Homebuying is both an art and a science, whether we're talking about buying in the ultra-hot Highland Park real estate market or purchasing homes in Glassell Park, Mt. Washington or, our favorite neighborhood, Eagle Rock. There are tried and trued methods and rules that buyers should understand well in advance of signing on the line that's dotted. Here's one of those vital rules to remember:
When purchasing a home, never assume anything. I can’t count how many times I've heard homebuyers state: “But I assumed that the Seller would leave the refrigerator (or stove, or washer/dryer, or garden tools, etc.).”
Here is how it works under the current California purchase agreement—if it isn’t attached, it isn’t staying unless you specifically ask for it and the Seller agrees to leave it. I refer you to page 3, item 8 of the contract: “Items listed as included or excluded in the MLS, flyers or marketing materials are not included in the purchase price or excluded from the sale unless specified in paragraph 8 B or C.” I also include verbal statements from either agent or anyone else about what stays or goes as something to confirm in writing.
So do you want that birdbath that perfectly goes with the house but is just sitting on the ground outside? Then ask for it! In writing on Page 3, Item 8. Are you not sure if the birdbath (or washer/dryer, or bookcase, or kitchen island and bar stools) is going to stay? Trick question—if it isn’t specified in the purchase contract, it’s not supposed to stay!
Sometimes items that you thought were attached are not. If there is anything you want that you assume (that danger word again) is attached, ask for it anyway just to make sure. It’s better to err on the side of being thought silly for asking for the apparently built-in SubZero refrigerator than to see after the day escrow closes that it is gone.
Sellers, you need to pay attention also. If you want that wonderful chandelier that is the centerpiece of the whole dining room, you should replace it before you go on the market. Otherwise, you are supposed to leave it with the house. Putting it in the marketing remarks that it will be replaced in escrow is asking for the buyer to fixate on that as the main reason that they offered what they did for the house. You can negotiate that out in the contract, but why ask for trouble? Avoid problems, never give the buyer a chance to flip out over it. This is one of the rare times that it’s really better not to talk about something you know about the house.