As you walk through an open house, gleaming stainless steel appliances and trendy light fixtures may catch your eye. But it’s possible that the seller plans on taking these items to their new home.
Buyers can be in for a costly surprise if they find out that the appliances, closet organizers, water heater, alarm system or other items they thought were part of the home are actually not included. For example, when I bought my current home about ten years ago, the seller wanted to keep all the wall sconces. We didn’t think much of it at the time, but when we moved in, we realized there were about a dozen of them in the home. We had a lot of empty electrical boxes to fill!
Failing to consider which items will be included with the sale of the home is one of the most common mistakes we see home buyers make. While it can be easy to get excited about a home and forget about the fine print, it’s important to take the right steps to ensure you know what you’re buying.
Take advantage of the expertise and guidance that your registered real estate professional can offer. When you’re ready to make an offer, ask your salesperson or broker to include written terms to clearly identify what is included or excluded with the purchase. Be specific and have descriptions of the items in question.
Keep in mind, what’s included is often negotiable. A seller might consider including an item in the sale that they had originally planned on bringing to their new home. It never hurts to ask.
If a seller is intent on excluding an item from the sale, such as a light fixture with sentimental value, you can ask them to include a replacement fixture with the sale. Something I wish I had done.
Additionally, you’ll want to confirm whether there are any rental or lease agreements in place for things like the water heater, furnace or alarm system. Have your real estate professional find out the monthly payments, the remaining term of the lease, and the cost to terminate or buy out the agreement. You should also include a clause in your offer stating whether or not you will assume those contracts. You don’t want to end up being on the hook for monthly payments for services you aren’t interested in keeping.
Buying a home is one of the largest purchases you’ll ever make, so ensure you have a clear understanding of what will or won’t work for you. Are you willing to invest in new appliances if your desired property doesn’t include them, or is that a deal-breaker? Communicate this information to your registered real estate professional so they can help guide you to properties that will meet your needs.
Also, be sure to consider the costs of any items that are excluded from the sale. While new light fixtures or window coverings may seem like relatively small purchases, believe me, they can add up when you consider how many of each are found throughout the home.
As I’ve said many times before, taking the time to make an informed decision when buying a home will go a long way in ensuring that you have a positive experience.
If you have a question for Joe about the home buying or selling process, please email email@example.com.
Joseph Richer is Registrar of the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO). He is in charge of the administration and enforcement of all rules that govern real estate professionals in Ontario.