I fell in love with a home, largely due its award-worthy garden and landscaping. The garden consists of thousands of dollars’ worth of mature perennials. How can I be sure the sellers won’t take them with them when they move?

Landscaping can be a powerful motivator when it comes to buying a home. A property’s “curb appeal” can make or break your impression of the home’s appeal.

In your case, it is clear that the gardens and the perennials are a very important factor in your decision to buy the home. The question is, are the perennials considered part of the home that you have bought?

Generally speaking, inground plantings are considered part of the property and included as part of the sale because they have effectively become a permanent part of the property and can’t be moved without damaging the home’s landscaping. These would generally be deemed to be included (similar to a fixture) in the purchase agreement, unless they are specifically excluded.

It is worth noting that many grey areas exist when it comes to what’s included in or what’s excluded from a home sale. Many a dispute has arisen between buyers and sellers about the state of the home upon the closing date of a sale. The best approach is to treat the gardens with importance and to be very clear about your expectations of what is considered a part of the home or property being purchased – and request that inclusions be documented as such.

In this case, you want to make sure the seller understands that you want the garden and the perennials to remain intact as part of the sale.

First, your real estate professional can structure the offer to purchase to document the state of the garden and its contents, as well as your expectation that the garden would be intact once the sale closed.

Second, you and your real estate professional could discuss ways for you to visit your new home just prior to the sale actually closing. This would allow you to inspect the garden and the perennials and confirm they were in the same condition as when you made the offer. These types of arrangements are common in real estate transactions – and they are negotiable. Keeping in mind our four-season climate, this may not always be a plausible option.

Third, and in addition to the measures above, you can take pictures of the garden – and any other chattels and fixtures that are included with the property, for that matter – that may assist should the seller attempt to remove any items that are part of the APS.

If you and your real estate professional take these steps, you should feel confident that you will be able to enjoy the beautiful blooms in the garden that you fell in love with when purchasing the home.

If you have a question for Joe about the home buying or selling process, please email information@reco.on.ca.

Joseph Richer is Registrar of the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO). He is in charge of the administration and enforcement of all rules that govern real estate professionals in Ontario. You can find more tips at reco.on.ca, follow on Twitter @RECOhelps or on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/RECOhelps.

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