Advice to home sellers: list every item not included in a sale

Home sellers and home buyers quite often have widely different views on what is included in the ‘sales list’ when the property is handed over – and for this reason it is essential to list every item in the house, clearly defining whether it is part of the property or will be taken away when the seller moves out. This list should be attached to and referred to in the Deed of Sale and in fact form a recognised part of it.

This advice was recently given by Bill Rawson, Chairman of the Rawson Property Group.

“When showing a prospective buyer around a home, an agent will, if he is efficient, tell him what items are not part of the property, but our experience is that it is essential to put this in writing otherwise difficulties can ensue.”

Two cases early on in his career, said Rawson, show how important such listing can be. In one case a marble fountain at the bottom of the garden was very definitely not included in the sale. This information was passed on to the wife of the buyer, but she forgot to tell her husband this – who was then extremely upset on taking occupation to find that the fountain was no longer there. In another case, said Rawson, the sale of the home included all the furniture but not the paintings, some of which were valuable. The buyer, however, had assumed that the phrase ‘all the furniture, fittings and fixtures’ had included the paintings – and was annoyed to find that this was not the case.

These cases are regrettable, said Rawson, because they sour what in most respects are otherwise very happy deals.

Speaking generally, said Rawson, blinds, awnings and overhead tarpaulins are always considered part of the property and it is therefore essential to list them as exceptions if the owner plans to take them with him. Similarly, any fixed furniture, e.g. a bar, a bar counter or a light chandelier can be kept apart from a sale – but this should be made clear at the outset.

“It is not at all unusual for a seller to want to take certain light fittings or fixtures, e.g. door knobs, with him. Again, however, this should be specified at the outset.”

The most common disagreements, said Rawson, always seem to arise over equipment. Dishwashers, washing machines, microwave ovens, in fact anything that is portable, even certain cupboards which, although built-in, are detachable, will be assumed to be part of the property unless the seller specifies that he plans to take them with him.

“The old legal maxim ‘silence gives consent’ can be especially valid here,” said Rawson. “If the seller has not specified in writing the items he plans to remove, the buyer has the right to assume that they will become his. The compiling of a full list of everything the seller plans to take with him is, therefore, an essential of the compilation of any Deed of Sale.”

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