Note what’s included in sale
CARPETS and curtains. This now dated real estate phrase was used in property sale transactions in the days of simplicity, the days of acceptance and the era when the first person you blamed when something went wrong was yourself.
Real estate deals in the days of old were all about the pleasure of selling your home, not all about the profit, record street prices and home staging.
Buying was a beautiful, quite often naive process. You would select a home you liked, that was it, no real analysis — you either liked it or you didn’t.
You might have checked that termites were not feasting on its bones and your lender might have wanted to ensure it existed before they handed over a paper cheque. Other than that — and maybe mum and dad giving a nod of approval — you were good to go.
Not only was the process very transparent, the home itself was less “integrated”, less “fully loaded”, certainly not “smart” and if it boasted green credentials that would refer to the colour of the front door!
In that market environment, “carpets and curtains” made total sense and was easy to comprehend.
Most items linked to a home were portable, prized by the homeowner and expensive to replace.
The curtains and the carpets were often the only items that would remain behind. Items within the home were either listed under the category of chattels or fixtures and fittings and this has not changed even in today’s highly complex and litigious sales markets.
But while the terms have not changed, our homes have evolved considerably and our modern-day desire to squeeze every last dollar from a buyer has led to the need to be aware of exactly what is and what isn’t within the purchase price.
What are the current carpets and curtains, what are the fixtures and fittings now and what are chattels?
To clarify, a chattel is defined as movable property, whereas fixtures and fittings are items actually attached in some way to the building.
In the days of old, it was pretty clear-cut and even if the odd light shade was missing on move-in day, you would get a little annoyed, but crashing contracts or going to court would not cross your mind.
Today’s market is a very different place. An agent relayed a recent story to me of how a purchaser managed to cause so much drama over one part of a home sound system, albeit an expensive part.
The auction sale was nearly aborted, purchaser and vendor had so much loathing for each other and the agent was stuck in the middle.
The agent ended up paying for the said items to keep the deal on track. I believe in this instance, the discrepancy came about because although the sound system in the main was fully integrated in the home, there were also two rather expensive freestanding speakers. These were not listed anywhere as the sellers were intending to remove them, yet the buyer argued they were part of the integrated sound system. The mistake made was not listing the speakers as an excluded chattel and presuming all parties would work that out.
The buyer did ask and was told they were not included, but nothing was ever written down.
My advice to you as a seller is list everything included and, bizarrely enough, excluded. This might take extra time but could save you thousands and avoid issues when you sell.
Many TVs are now fitted; do you want to leave those behind?
My final piece of advice relates to either taking pictures or listing make/model details of items. I have heard of cases of an appliance being included, let’s say a dishwasher. The buyer turns up on moving day to find a considerably inferior model in its place.
So take the time to list the lot and buyers need to clarify exactly what they are or are not paying for, noting model details, too. If you are tempted to negotiate for extras after the sale contract has been executed, perhaps on a later inspection, share this agreement in writing with all parties as soon as you can.
Agents should be aware of this too, if you haven’t already had experience of this.