Not once, but twice last week one of our REALTORS® conducted final viewings of homes our clients have purchased only to discover items included in the agreement of purchase and sale had been removed from the property.
The purpose of a final viewing (often referred to as a final inspection) is for the buyer to have the opportunity to tour the property one last time usually just prior to closing to verify that everything is in order as contracted for in the agreement of purchase and sale. In other words, it’s an opportunity to make certain that any appliances included in the purchase price remain on the property and that the condition of the house is the same as when it was viewed prior to purchasing.
As evidenced last week during two individual final viewings, one of the more problematic areas between buyers and sellers is the rights and obligations regarding chattels included in the purchase price and fixtures that will be removed or replace prior to the closing day.
So, what are chattels and fixtures anyways? I think lawyer, author, instructor, speaker and all around nice guy Mark Weisleder explains in best by this simple principle” If it takes a tool, that’s the rule”.
As Mark explains in his book titled “Put the Pen Down!”, if you require a tool to remove something from the house, it is most probably a fixture. If you can pull it out easily, like a plug from a wall, it’s a chattel. But even with simple principles, it can be very confusing. A garage door opener looks like a chattel because you can hold the remote in your hand, but it’s a fixture because it’s part of the built-in garage door assembly. A front door key is also a fixture since it’s part of the front door lock. What about mirrors or sliding doors you can remove by lifting them out of their slots? What about carpets that are not tacked down, or a dishwasher that’s connected by a simple valve you can remove with your hand?
To avoid confusion, take the necessary time as a buyer and seller to be very detailed, clear and concise regarding fixtures and chattels. If you’re a seller, it’s a good idea to remove or replace any fixtures you intend on taking with you when you move. If you’re a buyer, there is no such thing as too much detail regarding the chattels you expect to receive on closing. Go ahead and list the make and model (and serial number, if available) of all appliances that are being included, and also note the colour and location of all drapes, carpeting, pool equipment, satellite dishes, sheds, bushes, and anything else you expect to be on the property when you move in.
Oh, by the way, it was window coverings that were missing which were contracted for in the agreement of purchase of one of the properties we represented a buyer in purchasing. The other missing item from the other property we helped a buyer purchase was the stairs to an above ground pool! And ironically enough, as I wrote this we just received an email from one of our sellers to inform us that he is removing the electronic key pad on the front door of his house and replacing it with a dead bolt. Our advice … oh no you’re not!
Have you had a similar experience when buying or selling real estate? Tell us about it!