Are Those Chandeliers Mine?

Let's face it. Not every home seller's taste is something you wish to imitate, or even perpetuate. But what if some fixtures and decorating details of the house you are looking to buy are things you want to keep? How do you know what items are included in the sale price, and which will be removed by the seller? Here are a few guidelines for determining what goes and stays.

For starters, take a careful inventory of the house before you begin negotiations. Make a list of items you feel should be part of the purchase price. Just because you regard an item as a permanent fixture does not mean the seller does.

Take nothing for granted. Don't assume that sellers plan to leave any item behind. The Chinese doorbell could be a family heirloom they won't part with. And although it might seem odd that a seller would go to the trouble and expense of removing a built-in, something as intrinsic to a home as a hot tub, it has happened.

If the property is listed with an agency, the Multiple Listing Sheet should include items that are intended to be passed on with the house's sale. That's a starting point for your list. Common items you'll want to include are the range, refrigerator, microwave, and perhaps the washer and dryer. Other items to consider:
  • Outdoor storage buildings
  • Window treatments
  • Garage door openers
  • Portable air conditioning units
  • Chandeliers and other light fixtures
  • Ceiling fans
On the flip side, you can also list items you want to make sure the sellers remove, such as an unused oil storage tank or an old car that doesn't appear to run. Remember, you are basing your offer on the house as it sits with these items. If you discover that any item will not remain, you might want to reconsider the price.

One caveat: Make sure to take your list along for a final walk-through on the day the house closes escrow. If an item is missing, you'll have more clout to get it back or negotiate a price reduction if you bring it to everyone's attention before the papers are signed. Even though most sellers are honest, you should never rely on an oral agreement regarding any aspect of a real estate transaction. The contract should state clearly what stays and what goes, leaving no doubt as to what each party has agreed to.