When purchasing a resale home, it is typical for the seller to sell the home with the fixtures and chattels included in the purchase price. Fixtures are items that are fixed or attached to the property in such a manner that they become part of the land that is being sold. Chattels are items of personal property such as appliances and window coverings. A properly drafted agreement of purchase and sale should clearly indicate which fixtures and chattels are included in the purchase price in which are excluded from the purchase price.
Typically, after the transaction closes the purchaser will move into the home and will find the fixtures and chattels in order, but in some cases the purchaser may find that seller has removed, replaced damaged fixtures and or chattels. This column offers several measures that can reduce such risks so that there are no surprises after closing.
One of the most effective methods by which the purchaser can ensure that the chattels have not been removed or replaced and that there has been no damage to property, is to insist on a final inspection of the property just prior to closing. By instructing your realtor to insert the appropriate clause into the Agreement, the purchaser obtains the right to visit the property prior to closing. If during this visit, the purchaser discovers that an item has been removed, replaced or damaged, he or she should immediately seek with its lawyer prior to closing. This will give the lawyer an opportunity to hopefully resolve the issue prior to the closing date and to avoid nasty surprises after closing.
Another way for the purchaser to effectively prevent post-closing disputes is to clearly specify the items that are included in the Agreement by inserting the serial numbers. By specifying pertinent items in this manner, the seller will be reluctant to replace or remove any items prior to closing and the purchaser will have the peace of mind knowing that they are getting exactly what the paid for.
Even the most careful purchaser faces the risk of dealing with an unscrupulous seller. The purchaser should attempt to reduce the risks associated with this type of seller by adopting the measures discussed in this column. If, however the purchaser moves into the home only to discover that an item is missing or damaged, they should immediately contact their real estate agent and lawyer. Oftentimes, the seller may have mistakenly removed an item and will return it promptly when contacted. If the seller refuses to do so, the purchaser will need to commence a lawsuit and go to court to sue seller for damages for the return of the item. Problems of this kind are rare, but taking adequate cautions can go a long way avoiding nasty surprises after closing.