Do Furnishings Convey With The Property?

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If a home for sale has a refrigerator included on the listing report, and the buyer's agent does not write that it goes to the seller in a contract, is the buyer actually entitled to the refrigerator. I am actually going through this right now.

The listing does not matter. What does the purchase contract say? That is the complete controlling fact of the whole entire transaction.

If the contract is silent, what matters most is whether the refrigerator in question is appurtenant to the land or not. Appurtenances are things which are physically and structurally attached to the land which is always the primary thing being sold in a real estate transaction. For a standard house, nobody would seriously argue that they have the right to remove it, because it is attached securely to the property. There are service pipes coming out of the ground attached to the ground and a foundation it is attached to. There are electrical service wires, telephone wires, and cable TV wires. All of which would come up if you pulled the house away. So the house is appurtenant to the land. This is how all real estate transactions are really structured, by the way. You are buying the land, and the house, if there is one, comes along because it's attached to that land.

So if the refrigerator is somehow built in, such that removal would be a nontrivial project, then it's appurtenant to the land. If all you have to do us unplug it and push it away on a dolly, that's not appurtenant, and there is no more reason why they should have to leave that than why they should have to leave their dog, cat, or child.

Now this is not to say that you can't build an excellent court case based upon the fact that there was an implicit promise made in the listing, and everything else in the contract was built off of what that listing said. Talk to an attorney for more information than I can ever give you on that score.

Even if they're not obligated, the seller might leave the refrigerator anyway. Maybe they've got another, maybe they are just living up to what they promised even though they might not be legally required to do so. It's not like most people go around looking for ways to be evil. I've never met anyone who acted like a Disney villain. I have met some pretty shady characters, but mostly they're more sophisticated about it.

The thing to do, if you're concerned about the refrigerator or anything else where you want it to stay, is to put it in the purchase contract. If the listing says these appliances stay, putting it into the purchase contract won't offend the owner - it should be something they expect.

In any of these cases, the seller can force you to go to court by being an obstinate donkey, even when they haven't got a leg to stand on, legally speaking. It's not like you have the magic power of enforcing agreements. That power belongs solely to the executive branch of government, which will take no action in cases like this without a court order. Whatever the court says is final. Be aware, however, of the cost of bringing the law into it. Unless it's some $25,000 wonder fridge, it is not likely to be worth going to court over, and maybe not then. Much cheaper to buy a new refrigerator, and your expected return on investment is much higher.

Caveat Emptor

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2 Comments

Victor said:

Recently, we purchased a property where we explicitly checked in the contract that we get all the appliances. Now, these are not nice appliances, they are the generic type from KMart that go for $500 or so... During the walk through (which to my mistake was done the day before the closing), everything was there, but right after we closed, we returned to the house and found that the seller had taken the fridge and the stove.

In this situation, the recourse is to file an action against the seller, of course to do this my lawyer would charge me at least more than $1000, if not $2000. In which case, it would've been cheaper for me to just buy all new stuff. What a slum lord cheapass!!! Is there something else I could've done?

Dan Melson Author Profile Page said:

Not really unless there's something you can file a lien on.

Please be civil. Avoid profanity - I will delete the vast majority of it, usually by deleting the entire comment. To avoid comment spam, a comments account is required. They are freely available, and you can post comments immediately. Alternatively, you may use your Type Key registration, or sign up for one (They work at most Movable Type sites) All comments made are licensed to the site, but the fact that a comment has been allowed to remain should not be taken as an endorsement from me or the site. There is no point in attempting to foster discussion if only my own viewpoint is to be permitted. If you believe you see something damaging to you or some third party, I will most likely delete it upon request.
Logical failures (straw man, ad hominem, red herring, etcetera) will be pointed out - and I hope you'll point out any such errors I make as well. If there's something you don't understand, ask.
Nonetheless, the idea of comments should be constructive. Aim them at the issue, not the individual. Consider it a challenge to make your criticism constructive. Try to be respectful. Those who make a habit of trollish behavior will be banned.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Dan Melson published on January 28, 2014 7:00 AM.

Short Sale Negotiators and the Interests of Potential Buyers was the previous entry in this blog.

Where Would I Invest A Million Dollars? is the next entry in this blog.

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