Personal property is the most intangible and potentially contentious item in a purchase and sale agreement. In some cases, sellers may agree to throw in some personal property to sweeten a deal and make a buyer more interested in a home purchase. In other cases, a buyer may erroneously assume that personal property comes along with the property. In either case, it’s important to write into the contract a thorough, comprehensive description of any personal property that is included in the home purchase. Without a complete description, misunderstandings or outright deceit may arise.
What’s Included in Personal Property?
Personal property includes many items that you see when you attend an open-house and fall in love with your new home. Some items of personal property are obvious; things like area rugs, furniture, door mats and lawn equipment. But other items of personal property often come into dispute in home purchases, such as appliances, blinds, draperies and even what appears to be permanent fixtures.
One home buyer was angry when the seller removed a $5,000 bar from the finished basement. The buyer asserted that the bar was a permanent fixture and it was part of what made the home seem so attractive. But the seller claimed that it was personal property, and it wasn’t in the contract, so the seller was legally permitted to take the bar.
By making a complete list of all personal property that is included in the sale, you can avoid these types of disputes.
List a Complete Description of all Personal Property in the Sale
If you and the seller agree to include items of personal property in the sale, document them very carefully. Include complete descriptions, and pictures when possible. Descriptions should include serial numbers where applicable. If you have complete descriptions in the contract, you can take legal action if these items vanish during the move. But without good descriptions, it can be impossible to recover any personal property that you believe should have been sold with the home