Do Furnishings Convey With The Property?

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If a home for sale has a refrigerator included on the listing report, and the buyer's agent does not write that it goes to the seller in a contract, is the buyer actually entitled to the refrigerator. I am actually going through this right now.

The listing does not matter. What does the purchase contract say? That is the complete controlling fact of the whole entire transaction.

If the contract is silent, what matters most is whether the refrigerator in question is appurtenant to the land or not. Appurtenances are things which are physically and structurally attached to the land which is always the primary thing being sold in a real estate transaction. For a standard house, nobody would seriously argue that they have the right to remove it, because it is attached securely to the property. There are service pipes coming out of the ground attached to the ground and a foundation it is attached to. There are electrical service wires, telephone wires, and cable TV wires. All of which would come up if you pulled the house away. So the house is appurtenant to the land. This is how all real estate transactions are really structured, by the way. You are buying the land, and the house, if there is one, comes along because it's attached to that land.

So if the refrigerator is somehow built in, such that removal would be a nontrivial project, then it's appurtenant to the land. If all you have to do us unplug it and push it away on a dolly, that's not appurtenant, and there is no more reason why they should have to leave that than why they should have to leave their dog, cat, or child.

Now this is not to say that you can't build an excellent court case based upon the fact that there was an implicit promise made in the listing, and everything else in the contract was built off of what that listing said. Talk to an attorney for more information than I can ever give you on that score.

Even if they're not obligated, the seller might leave the refrigerator anyway. Maybe they've got another, maybe they are just living up to what they promised even though they might not be legally required to do so. Most people are mostly honorable.

In any of these cases, of course, the seller also can force you to go to court by being an obstinate donkey. It's not like you have the magic power of enforcing agreements. That power belongs solely to the executive branch, which will take no action in cases like this without a court order. Whatever the court says is final. Unless it's some $25,000 wonder fridge, however, it is not likely to be worth going to court over. Much cheaper to buy a new refrigerator, and your expected return on investment is much higher.

Caveat Emptor

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This page contains a single entry by Dan Melson published on February 24, 2008 7:00 AM.

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