Including movables in property sales complicates matters
SELLERS sometimes include a number of movables, furniture, curtains or white goods in sale agreements as part of the purchase price, but this can complicate matters, says Lanice Steward, managing director of Knight Frank.
“No transfer duty is payable on movable items so any items of material value should be excluded from sale agreements and a private sale of these items should be arranged between buyer and seller. If the price of these was added to the price of the home, the transfer duty would increase.
“In any event, whether movable items are sold separately or as part of the agreement, it’s important to identify them.
“Be as specific as possible and take digital photos of items that are meant to remain in the home.
“We have come across instances where certain kitchen equipment was meant to be included and when the buyer moved in, found that the original stove, microwave, fridge and washing machine had been replaced by cheaper models that the buyers would not have chosen. There have also been instances where plastic patio furniture was substituted for the teak table and chairs the buyer had agreed to pay for.”
A case mentioned in a recent Smith Tabata Buchanan Boyes legal update warns about this sort of situation. In this particular case, Steenkamp NO and Others v CA du Toit Central (Pty) Ltd, the property was a guesthouse where the seller presented a list of items that were included in the sale and the buyer did not sign it initially, saying that the price agreed on in the offer to purchase was for all the items in the apartment on the date of the agreement being signed.
He later signed the list, again saying that he presumed the list included all the items agreed on when the sale took place.
He could not check as he was in Bloemfontein and the apartment was in Mossel Bay.
A little while later Mrs Steenkamp removed certain items that were meant to remain in the guesthouse, and the buyer instituted action against the Steenkamps for breach of contract. The court subsequently found in the buyer’s favour.
“A property sale is usually complicated enough without adding lists of movable property,” says Steward. “It is always best, and would have been in the case above, to keep each transaction separate and clear, as well as in writing. All the legal costs and the time wasted could have been avoided had this been done.”