What comes with a house?
It’s a question that comes up often when house searching—what comes with the house? Do all the appliances stay? The rugs? Curtains? The answer: well, it depends! Real Property and personal property are two very different things, but are also easily confused. Real property is the land itself, the house, the garage—anything that is permanently attached to the property. Personal property is, generally speaking, the stuff inside our outside (tractors, furniture, clothes, decor, etc.) Only the real property conveys, unless personal property is included in the contract. Usually, personal property does not come with the house. However, sometimes it does; and to add more confusion, personal property can become real property too!
So…what items are definitely coming with the house? Many items, in addition to the house and garage, are automatically included (unless explicitly excluded) in Texas Real Estate Commission’s One to Four Family Residential Contract (Resale) form. The contract automatically includes: screens, shutters, flooring, ceiling fans, mail boxes, tv mounts and brackets, stove, fireplace screens, curtains and rods, blinds, keys, heating and AC units, chandeliers, light fixtures, kitchen equipment, shrubs, landscaping and more.
While this may seem like a kind of ridiculous yet obvious list (and this isn’t even all of it!), there is good reason that it is included in the standardized forms. A purchase contract should list it everything, whether it seems obvious or not. What may seem like a “DUH!” to you, may be questionable to someone else.
Personal property is NOT included in the sale—unless agreed upon in writing by both parties. There are two options for including personal property with a sale: a contract addendum or a bill of sale. Everything in a home purchase is negotiable, yes, even personal property (but please don’t ask for the cute puppy to be included!). Although fridges are often thought to be included, it does not automatically stay—it is personal property. It is not permanently attached and therefore does not come with the house, unless agreed upon in the purchase contract.
The key is that if it is permanently installed and attached to the property, then it comes with the house. So…what makes something permanently installed or a built-in? For example, if there is a pile of loose paver stones in the backyard, they are not included in the sale. However, if a sidewalk is built out of the paver stones, they become installed and attached and are included with the house. Along the same vein, if there is a new kitchen light fixture in a box in the garage, it does not go with the house; but once that light is installed, it stays with the house. What about a flat screen TV mounted above the fireplace? The TV wall mount is included but the TV is not! Landscaping that is in the ground (unless it’s a crop, but that’s another story) is included—if its in a cute little pot on the porch, it does not come with the house. If you have questions on what stays and what goes, always ask—do not assume it stays!
The contract dictates it all and everything that is included should be in writing and clearly evident, so there is no confusion. The lines are easily blurred, so when in doubt, it is best to specifically ask or write it in. Not to say that house hunting is a way to “shop” someone’s stuff , but there are certain circumstances when it is advisable (like a refrigerator). My best advice is to keep your focus on the real estate, not the personal property.
Lisa E. Priest loves contract talk and is a Texas REALTOR® with Picket Fence Realty, Inc. You can reach her via phone or text at 903-948-3343 or read more at BuyPalestine.com.