What Stays With The House?
Ultimately what stays with the house depends on the contract that's negotiated between Buyer and Seller, but generally speaking, if it's built-in or screwed-in, it will stay.
Here are a few grey areas and potential pitfalls to consider. The best contracts will clearly spell these out to avoid misunderstandings:
Family Heirlooms: Sometimes fixtures have sentimental value where a Seller wants to take a built-in fixture with them prior to closing. For example, if a dining room chandelier was passed down from generation to generation, be sure this is made clear w/in your contract that it's specifically excluded from the sale--or better yet, take it down before listing the home for sale and avoid a potential issue altogether.
Wall-Mounted TVs: Wall-mount TV brackets are built into the wall, and therefore a fixture typically sold with the house. Sometimes removing this fixture could damage the wall, so consider if it's best for you to leave it for the Buyer or specifically exclude this from the sale. And consider clarifying if the TV will stay or go too, as TVs are deemed as personal property, and not included w/ the sale of real estate.
Drapes/Window Coverings: Consider if drapes or window coverings should be included with the sale. In Hawaii, they are generally included, but not always. Often times window shades or plantation shutters are custom-built to the window sizing, so determine ahead of time if this makes sense or not.
Alarm Systems: Most alarm systems are built-in and would stay with the home, but with the advent of easy-to-install video doorbells, it's a good idea to clarify if/what will be included. Sometimes these doorbells are built-in, or have motion sensors integrated into built-in flood lights, while other times they are simply freestanding devices.
Photovoltaic: Are panels owned outright or leased? If they are owned, the Seller will sell this as a fixture to the Buyer as part of the sale. However, if panels are leased, ownership of the panels may reside with the entity that is leasing them to the current homeowner and therefore may require an application to transfer the lease to the new Buyer before you close.
Potted Plants: While landscaping can't be removed before closing, potted plants pose a different issue since they're not "built in". Potted plants aren't fixtures, so Sellers are supposed to take them, but many times Sellers may be amenable to leaving them. Best to have that sorted out in advance lest your prized bonsai tree gets lost in the shuffle!
Lastly, it's worthwhile to note that Sellers are not allowed to substitute any fixtures prior to closing unless specifically agreed to in writing. So don't worry, Seller's can't swap out that expensive Viking refrigerator for a cheaper model!
Questions? For more info, call Shaila at 808-741-7155 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Hawaii Homes & Estates LLC. License No: RB-20456.