Q: We are in contract to sell our home. We have a question concerning the term, “built-in appliances.”
Does that term include the refrigerator, washer, or dryer? The contract reads says that the house, “together with all improvements and attached items, including fixtures, built-in furnishings, built-in appliances, ceiling fans, light fixtures, attached wall-to-wall carpeting, rods, draperies and other window coverings.” There is a line about other items being included in the purchase, but it was left blank.
We have a normal 25-cubic foot side-by-side refrigerator that stands alone. It is not built into the kitchen cabinetry. We purchased it ourselves. It did not come from the builder when we bought the house.
In fact, we bought all of our own appliances, including the washer and dryer.
Are we obligated to leave our refrigerator, washer, or dryer for the new owner or should they make an offer to us if they are interested in any of these items?
Thank you so much. We really appreciate any advice you can give us.
A: In my neck of the woods, appliances are left in the house. Home buyers typically expect a house to come with appliances — even though your builder did not put them in.
But, depending on where you live, sometimes appliances do not go automatically with the home. Sometimes people take refrigerators, washer and dryers with them. Did the listing for your home include the refrigerator, washer and dryer? If it did, your buyer may be expecting them. If the prevalent practice in your area is that those appliances stay with the home, you may have to leave them behind.
To be safe, if you want to take your appliances with you, you should specifically exclude them in writing in the contract. That way, the buyers won’t be surprised when they walk into the house after the closing. However, you might want to talk to your real estate attorney to find out if the refrigerator, washer and dryer are considered appliances that stay with the home.
I called an attorney in Illinois and he indicated that in Illinois, those appliances would not be built in and could be taken by the seller. If the buyer had wanted them included in the sale, he should have specifically listed them in the contract. He also said that if the buyer made a mistake and forgot to insert them into the contract, they could argue that the purchase price included these items as they were included in all the marketing materials for the home.
He suggested you tread carefully on this issue, make sure no one promised the buyers these appliances and the listing sheet did not include them.