I just bought a new home, but when I moved in I saw that the washer and dryer set was removed by the previous owners. Don’t these appliances now belong to me?
In this case, the answer is maybe. The “rightful owner” of your washer and dryer depends on the details of your Agreement of Purchase and Sale.
You shouldn’t assume furniture or appliances are included when you purchase a new home. You may find a home more appealing because of these items, but the sellers may want to take them when they move out, or they might return them if they were borrowed or rented to stage the home.
Buyers sometimes overlook these details when they get caught up in the excitement of the purchase of a home.
Before you present an offer, you and your real estate representative should determine which items you want to remain in the home and which ones will be removed.
When you’re making an offer, ask your agent to include written terms that clearly identify what is included with the purchase of the property. And, where possible, be specific when describing the items by noting their make, model, colour and serial number.
If you aren’t sure whether a particular item will be left behind by the sellers, then you should ask about it. And remember, you can often negotiate what’s included in the sale.
In some instances, a seller may insist on taking certain items with them when they leave. If this happens, you may consider asking them to include a replacement item with the sale.
Keep in mind that the seller can accept, refuse or negotiate whether to include items, and this may be one of the factors they consider when deciding how to handle an offer.
You’ll also want to know whether you’ll be on the hook to pay any outstanding leases or ongoing costs of the home’s major operating systems, such as the water heater, furnace or security system. Are these items owned, rented or leased?
Be sure to find out all the necessary details of any items that are not owned by the seller, such as the monthly cost, the remaining lease or rental term, whether the contract is transferable, and the availability of any option and related cost to terminate or buy out the agreement.
If you are taking over leased items, your offer should include details of the transferable lease items and the applicable lease agreement. If the furnace or hot water heater, for example, are rental items, ask for a copy of the rental or lease agreement, if available. The utility company may require you to sign a new agreement when you transfer the title, as well.
At the end of the day, it’s about peace of mind. When you know what items will come with the property, you’ll know what you need to replace later on. It’s an important way to avoid surprises so that you can enjoy your new home.
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.