Avoid Misunderstandings Over Fixtures and Furnishings.

The Closing is scheduled for 1 PM at the office of the Bank Attorney, you arrive at your dream home, ready to sign all of the mortgage documents, and close; when you realize that the sellers have moved out, taking all of the covers to all of the electrical outlets, light switch plates, architectural stained glass windows in the bathroom and mail box.   Fact or fantasy?  That’s a real example from everyday real estate practice in upstate New York, and lead to a very unpleasant closing.

Among the standard details of a real estate contract is a paragraph innocuously labeled “personalty” or “personal property.”   First time home buyers sometimes pay close attention to the details in the contract, but not always:

  1. Personal Property: Included in this sale: (a) The sale includes all of Seller’s right, title and interest, if any, in and to:

(i) the refrigerators including ice makers, freezers, ranges, ovens and built in microwave ovens, dishwashers, clothes washing machines, clothes dryers, cabinets and counters, lighting and plumbing fixtures, air conditioning equipment, venetian blinds, shades, screens, storm windows and other window treatments, wall-to-wall carpeting, bookshelves, switch plates, door hardware, built-ins, fireplace equipment, built in wine racks, mantels, stained glass, built in mirrors and articles of property and fixtures attached to or appurtenant to the Unit, except those listed in subpapa. 2(b), all of which included property and fixtures are represented to be owned by Seller, free and clear of all liens and encumbrances other than those encumbrances (“Permitted Exceptions”) set forth on Schedule A (strike inapplicable items); and

(ii) Light fixtures, will be replaced, 3 ac units, window treatments and washer and dryer will remain.

(b) Excluded from this sale are:

(i) furniture and furnishings (other than as specifically provided in this Contract); and  . . . .

(c)The property referred to in subpara. 2(a)(i) and (ii) may not be purchased if title to the Unit is not conveyed pursuant to this contract.

 

This article from the Washington Post does a nice job of explaining the different perspectives of Sellers and Buyers when it comes to what the house will look like on the day of the closing.   For example, are the state-of-the-art appliances, sleek lighting fixtures and tasteful window treatments included, particularly when the silk curtains match the wall or floor coverings, elegant chandeliers or crystal knobs on cabinet doors.  Be aware that Sellers may have a different view — like an heirloom chandelier, curtains made to coordinate with a bedroom set, an expensive, custom-designed kitchen exhaust fan that poses as a hanging light fixture or an imported wine cooler, are not included for various reasons.

The Bottom Line- experienced closing attorneys and realtors do not like to have difficult or unpleasant closings where the parties are dickering and compromising.    Please anticipate these issues so that we do not have to appease emotional buyers and intractable sellers at the last minute.  Preparation and communication is key to a smooth closing