If you’ve purchased a home (or even if you’ve just thought about buying a home), did you assume the refrigerator would be there when you closed?
Most people do, but the reality is that a refrigerator is not a standard inclusion in the purchase of real estate.
So, what’s included in a home purchase, what isn’t, and how can you ensure everything you need is present in a home when you move in?
Before we talk about inclusions and exclusions in the sale of a home, it’s important to distinguish between two terms: fixtures and personal property (aka chattel). These are the official terms, but on a more basic level, let’s define fixtures as anything that’s permanently attached to the house (in other words, you can’t just pick it up and walk away with it) and personal property as your personal, movable belongings.
The Pennsylvania Association of Realtors (PAR) Agreement of Sale contract offers an extensive list of items (i.e., fixtures) that are included in a standard sale, such as:
- Plumbing systems
- Heating systems
- Plantings and trees
- Storage sheds
- Wall-to-wall carpeting
- Built-in air conditioners
- Shades and blinds
If you’re buying or selling a home and you want any specific items included or excluded, you can always name them in the contract.
Say you’re touring a home and you love the rustic dining room table. If you and the seller agree to include it in the sale, all you have to do is add it to the contract (if you add it after the contract has been signed, you and the seller should both initial the change, or you can complete an addendum to the contract).
Real estate is highly regulated, but it can also be somewhat flexible. One of the keys to a successful real estate transaction is clear communication on the contract. Always get everything in writing since the contract is a legally binding document and the ultimate source of truth.
Reading, reviewing, and understanding the contract is important for every home buyer and seller, even if you’re using a standard contract.
If you have questions about your Pennsylvania real estate contract or are looking to buy a home, talk to your real estate agent (I’m happy to help) or real estate attorney.