What stays and what goes when a home sells can be a source of major headaches. What may seem clear can quickly become muddy especially if communication breaks down between buyer and seller. Different states have different seller disclosure laws regarding what remains; in Georgia it’s a question of whether an item is considered a fixture or personal property. Generally, if an item is fastened or attached to the property, it’s considered a fixture and should transfer with it. Things screwed, nailed, bolted, glued…typically transfer. Things hung, leaning against, freestanding next to…typically don’t. As with everything real estate, no two scenarios are the same and the GA property seller’s disclosure includes an entire page stipulating what stays and goes. The overriding advice is to put everything in writing, communicate clearly and ensure everything is as it should be before closing. Even then, these are a few of the areas that can become contentious…
Do Home Appliances Transfer When a Home Sells?
Well…mostly yes. Built ins like dishwashers, ovens, microwaves transfer. Sellers typically dictate refrigerators, washers and dryers which are not necessarily built in. However, what about a wine chiller, kegerater, extra freezer or garage beer refrigerator? How about that 84” Sub Zero? And that one of a kind shower head? The seller’s disclosure encourages sellers to check what transfers and even to clarify in the case of multiple items like refrigerators. It sounds crazy but arguments over what constitutes a “built in” can get heated. Sellers must be very specific about what they want to take, buyers very specific about what they want to keep.
Does the Home Theater Transfer When a Home Sells?
An HD projector mounted to the ceiling projecting on to an eight foot video wall pushing sound through massive speakers might be expected to transfer; will they? By definition these components are fixtures and may be a great enticement to buy the home. Is their future addressed in the contract? One of the most common points of contention are TV mounts. No doubt it’s fixed to the wall, does it remain? If so, did the seller remember to remove the mount on their TV? If the mounts are removed, who fixes the wall? And how about that Ring Doorbell? And that security camera system? Sellers must be very specific about what they want to take, buyers very specific about what they want to keep.
Do the Chandeliers, Light Fixtures and Nest T-Stat Transfer?
What remains with a home at sale is a frequent source of contention. Most issues can be avoided with a thorough seller’s disclosure and clear, written communication between the parties during the course of the contract. Assumptions are the enemy of a successful transaction.
This sounds rhetorical, it’s not. Chandeliers and light fixtures are commonly disputed; Uncle Timmy gave the foyer fixture as a wedding present forty years ago but the seller neglected to note it as being removed. Those hammered brass pendants with globes hand blown in Jamaica suddenly disappear the morning of closing; that’s why the buyer bought the home and now it’s all ruined. Window treatments are a similar trap. What stays; the drapes and hardware? Just the hardware? Just the mounts or the rods too? How about those NEST thermostats? How about the blinds and plantation shutters? Fixtures by definition but are they checked? Sellers must be very specific about what they want to take, buyers very specific about what they want to keep. Agents must ride herd on both.
These examples are by no means all inclusive; there is literally no end to the variables and issues that pop up during the sale of a home. Complicating things, Georgia is a “buyer beware” state; sellers have remarkably wide latitude with disclosures. Consider that gorgeous hanging mirror that went missing, Wi-Fi components, playsets, a car lift in the garage, a hot tub, pool and patio furniture…the list depends on the home. It’s critical for all parties – especially agents who should be counseling their clients – to be very clear on what stays and what transfers. That of course opens the next box…if it goes who replaces it? With what? Is the replacement comparable? If the walls are damaged removing something, who repairs it? What happens if the buyer isn’t happy with the repairs? What happens if all of this isn’t completed by closing? And on and on and on….
We’ve been selling real estate full time for over 30 years; that level of experience benefits our clients at every level. There are NO standards for agents; failing to properly select a real estate agent will lead to headaches, including financial ones. The benefit of a professional agent properly managing and addressing real estate contracts cannot be overstated.