Every time realtors work with offers they are dealing with many issues that affect both the Buyer and the Seller. The contract is complex and many believe it is just fill in the blanks. If you've been around contracts as much as I have in the past 23 years, you'll know that is very far from the truth.
When your realtor represents you as the Seller, and you are completing the listing contract, there is a section discussing what chattels you are leaving. The section looks like this:
1.1 including the following goods not attached to the land and buildings: This section is important for you. You are agreeing to leave items like a fridge, stove, washer, dryer, etc!!! These are called chattels.
and all goods attached to the land and buildings, except: This section is the section too often missed, but is highly important. You need to decide are you leaving items like a water softener, a chandelier, cabinets, etc!!! These are ATTACHED GOODS.
Have this discussion with your realtor. When the offer gets negotiated, you cannot forget items like your water softener. If you think you are going to take it when you move, you may have a buyer leave their legal options open to sue you for the taken items.
The same goes for the Buyer, On the Offer to Purchase, make sure you include all chattels, and anything you want that is deemed attached. If you don't tell your realtor, then you may be upset on possession when it's all gone.
The Real Estate Council of Alberta Defines:
Attached & Unattached Goods
Attached goods are items you cannot remove from the property without causing damage or that are physically attached to the property via pipes, screws, bolts, or nails. Attached goods stay with the property unless there is a specific exclusion in the listing agreement or in a buyer’s offer to purchase. These include:
- water softener
- kitchen cabinets
- built-in appliances
- central vacuum system
- garage door opener
Unattached goods are movable items. Sellers usually take unattached goods from the property before the buyer takes possession. These include:
- wall art
- area rugs
- drapes hooked on curtain rods
- attachments for central vacuum system
- remotes for a garage door opener
- movable kitchen island
Attached goods are typically included with the property while unattached goods are not.
A good example of how attached/unattached goods can be confusing is a wall-mounted TV. The wall mount is attached to the property, and is an attached good, but the TV itself is only attached to the wall mount, and is an unattached good. In the absence of specific inclusions or exclusions indicated in the listing agreement or in a buyer’s offer to purchase, attached goods are typically included in the property while unattached goods are not. If a buyer wants an unattached good included in the purchase of the property, such as the garage door opener or the attachments for the central vacuum system, they need to list it as an inclusion in their offer to purchase. As the seller, you would have to agree to such an inclusion as part of your acceptance of their offer. If you plan to take the unattached good, you need to put that in a counter offer to the buyer.
NOTE: In commercial transactions, everything other than the four walls is typically “unattached” (e.g. equipment, hoists) and should be specified in a Purchase Contract.
Issues at possession
If a buyer is worried about inclusions and exclusions as the possession date nears, they can ask their real estate professional to include a term in the offer to purchase where the seller agrees to let them do a walk-through of the property before possession. This would give the buyer an opportunity to see the condition of the property and ensure inclusions or exclusions meet the terms of the agreed-upon contract. If they see a problem, they can negotiate a mutually satisfactory resolution before possession.
When there is a problem with attached or unattached goods after possession, and the seller does not cooperate, the buyer’s only remedy is legal action. You need to think about the value of the missing goods in relation to the costs of legal action to decide if it’s worth pursuing.
Your real estate professional will help you consider and write exclusions and inclusions when drafting agreements and offers to purchase. If you’re ever in doubt about whether something is attached or unattached, include it in the agreement or contract anyways. When in doubt, write it out.