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What’s included and excluded in the Sale of a Home?

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What’s included in the Sale?

Dear Phyllis,

We just closed escrow and upon moving discovered that the seller removed the dining room light fixture and replaced it with a cheap apartment grade light. They also removed a brass pot rack from the kitchen. I am wondering what’s included in the sale and do you think we have any recourse?


Dear Ron,

Thank you for your question. Unless these items were excluded from your Real Estate Purchase Agreement, the seller had no right to remove them. Contact your real estate agent in writing and ask that they contact the seller’s Realtor® requesting that these items be returned and professionally reinstalled or that you be compensated for their replacement. I recommend you take photos of what is missing and compare them to the photos in the multiple listing service (MLS) as you may need to take the seller to small claim’s court.

Unfortunately, there is often confusion regarding what remains with the home upon close of escrow. One of the first rules in real estate is not to assume; everything should be in writing and signed by all parties. Unless otherwise noted, the Residential Purchase Agreement states:


All existing fixtures and fittings that are attached to the property; Existing electrical, mechanical, lighting, plumbing and heating fixtures, ceiling fans, fireplace inserts, gas logs and grates, solar power systems, built-in appliances, window and door screens, awnings, shutters, window coverings, attached floor coverings, television antennas, satellite dishes, air cooler/conditioners, pool/spa equipment, garage door openers/remote controls, mailbox, in-ground landscaping, trees/shrubs, water features and fountains, water softeners, water purifiers, security systems/alarms.

Unless otherwise stated, the following is also INCLUDED:

Existing integrated phone and home automation systems, including necessary components such as intranet and internet connected hardware or devices, control units (other than non-dedicated mobile devices, electronics and computers) and applicable software, permissions, passwords, codes and access information.

Unless otherwise stated, the following is EXCLUDED:

Audio and video components (such as flat screen TVs, speakers and other items) if any such item is not attached to the property, even if a bracket or other mechanism attached to the component or item is attached to the property; furniture and other items secured to the property for earthquake purposes.

If a home seller does not intend to include any of the above or if for instance their water softener is rented, the home seller and their Realtor must exclude it from the Purchase Contract.

Some examples:

*A built-in range or refrigerator is included but a freestanding range or refrigerator is not.

*The dining room chandelier is included UNLESS it is not permanently mounted but connected by a “swag type hook”.

*Potted plants are not included but the plants in the ground are.

*The built in stereo speakers are included however the stereo is not.

Generally when an item is nailed, bolted, wired, glued, built-in, cemented or planted, the personal property has become a fixture. Some common areas of confusion are flat screen televisions, garden statuary and (plug in style) outdoor fountains. Home buyers and sellers should have their real estate agent clarify in the contract if these items are included or excluded from the sale.

Thank you for your question and good luck to you, Ron!

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