What “Conveys” with the Home?

The question really is, “What is considered to be part of the house – like a door – and what is considered to be part of the seller’s personal property – like a chair?” The personal property of the seller, like clothes and furniture, are of course, not part of the house and are not included in the sale.

An old rule of thumb that sometimes works says that if an item is attached to the home (for example, with a nail or a screw) then the item is more likely to be considered to be part of the home.

A family picture sitting on a shelf or just hanging on a nail is the personal property of the seller. (The picture is not nailed to the wall, it’s just hanging on a nail. Yeah, this is confusing for everyone, including the seller.)

An 80-inch flat screen TV that is actually mounted to a wall might be considered to be part of the home like any door that is screwed to a wall. If that same TV were just sitting on a shelf or just hanging on a nail, it would definitely be considered to be the seller’s personal property just like all the other furniture.

Confusing, ain’t it! We have lots of room for disagreements and there are a LOT of such disagreements.

To avoid drama later, it’s always best to spell it out in your very first offer exactly what you want to be included in the sale of the house.

This is especially true for items that often cause disputes like wall-mounted TVs (The buyer says, “The TV is attached to the wall so it’s part of the house.” The seller says, “No, it’s not. The TV wall mount is attached to the wall and is part of the house but the TV itself isn’t so the TV doesn’t convey with the home”); garage cabinets, book shelves and wall units (are they attached to the wall like a door or just sitting on the floor like a chair?); and appliances like wine refrigerators that some people will consider to be “built-in” and others will not.

Refrigerator, Washer and Dryer – NOT Part of Home

Typically, the refrigerator, clothes washer and clothes dryer are considered to be the seller’s personal property and will NOT convey with the home unless the contract specifically states those items are in fact included in the sale.

Be sure and include any such personal property items you want in your very first offer. The seller may not, of course, agree to include those items in the sale – it’s all part of the negotiations – but if you don’t ask, you won’t get them.

In our example, I would consider the 80-inch wall-mounted TV to be part of the home and I think it should convey with the home, unless the contract says otherwise. However, many other real estate agents firmly believe that wall-mounted TVs are never part of a house.

The drama begins when the seller doesn’t agree with the buyer, which is very common, and the seller takes the 80-inch wall-mounted TV when he moves out. That’s why it’s best to specifically mention the TV in your very first offer so there is no confusion later about whether it is included in the sale or not.

Items That ARE Part of the Home

Here is a list of items that ARE by default included in the sale of a home when using the “Residential Resale Real Estate Purchase Contract” from the Arizona Association of Realtors. (The buyer and seller can, of course, agree in the written contract to exclude any of these items from the sale so the seller can keep them.)

  • Free-standing range/oven
  • Ceiling fans
  • Attached floor coverings
  • Window and door screens, sun screens
  • Garage door openers and controls
  • Outdoor landscaping, fountains, and lighting
  • Pellet, wood-burning or gas-log stoves
  • Storage sheds
  • Light fixtures
  • Towel, curtain and drapery rods
  • Flush-mounted speakers
  • Storm windows and doors
  • Attached media antennas/satellite dishes
  • Attached fireplace equipment
  • Timers
  • Draperies and other window coverings
  • Shutters and awnings
  • Water-misting systems
  • Mailbox
  • Central Vacuum, hose, and attachements
  • Built-in appliances

If owned by the seller, the following items also are included in the sale:

  • Pool and spa equipment (including any mechanical or other cleaning systems)
  • Security and/or fire systems and/or alarms
  • Water softeners
  • Water purification systems

You can see the full list of items on Lines 30-44 of this old version of the Purchase Contract.

These are the items that by default are automatically included in the sale of the home.

For other items to be included in the sale, such as a piece of furniture or free-standing garage cabinets, the contract must specifically state they are included in the sale.

Disputes over items that the buyer thought were included in the sale and the seller thought were not included in the sale usually pop up right before closing when everyone is already pretty frazzled. For a smoother home purchase, it’s best to specifically mention in the contract any items you think may confuse the seller.

Beware! If the MLS listing says the refrigerator, for example, will convey with the home but at the end of the day the refrigerator is NOT listed in your purchase contract as being included in the sale of the home, then the refrigerator is NOT included in the sale of the home.

It doesn’t matter what the MLS listing says. It only matters what the contract says.

The opposite example helps show the logic.

If the MLS listing says the refrigerator will NOT convey with the home but at the end of the day the refrigerator is indeed listed in your purchase contract as being included in the sale of the home, then the refrigerator is included in the sale of the home.

It doesn’t matter what the MLS listing says. It only matters what the contract says.

NEXT TIP >> Can I strengthen my offer without paying more?

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How to Buy an Arizona Home – All Tips

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