When real estate agents are out and about showing homes, those homes are usually staged, lived in, and/or full of furniture, appliances, etc. So when agents get the property under contract, what exactly is conveyed with it? The “As Is” and Standard Florida Realtors/Florida Bar contracts are useful tools and have been drafted by attorneys in order to afford realtors, buyers, and sellers with the utmost protection. However, these standard form contracts are not all-inclusive and completely exhaustive. Section 1(d) of each contract pertains to the personal property owned by the Seller, which exists on the property on the date of the initial offer.
Both contracts define Personal Property items as: “range(s)/oven(s), refrigerator(s), dishwasher(s), disposal, ceiling fan(s), intercom, light fixture(s), drapery rods and draperies, blinds, window treatments, smoke detector(s), garage door opener(s), security gate and other access devices, and storm shutters/panels.”All of the above listed items are intended and expected to be conveyed with the property unless redacted elsewhere in the contract (usually in Section 1(e) of the contract).
Section 1(d) also provides a few blank lines where additional personal property items that are to be included with the purchase can be written in. Often filled into those lines is the phrase “this property is turn-key furnished” or “all appliances and all furniture/furnishings.” What exactly does “turn-key furnished” mean? What constitutes an “appliance” or a piece of furniture? What is the difference between “furniture” and a “furnishing”? Is silverware included? What about place mats? Pillows? Is a television an appliance? Like so many other things, words are open to interpretation and everyone is going to have a different opinion of what “turn-key furnished” or an “appliance” means. Real estate attorneys can assist in drafting language defining what “turn-key furnished” or an “appliance” means, but again, language is always open to interpretation and can lead to differing opinions.
The interpretation of “turn-key furnished” and/or “appliances” and “furnishings” only matters to two parties: the buyer and seller. However, every buyer and seller is different. So what’s the best way to make sure that the personal property intended to be conveyed from the seller to the buyer are exactly the same? A detailed inventory list attached as an exhibit to the contract leaves no room for confusion. If the listing agent knows that the sellers are wanting to sell the home as “turn-key furnished,” the agent should walk through the property with them and create a detailed inventory list. The time when listing pictures are being taken is an opportune time to have an inventory completed. That way, when the property goes live on the MLS, there is absolutely no misunderstanding of what personal property is being conveyed with the real property. If a buyer wants to purchase a certain home with all furnishings and appliances included, the buyer’s agent should have a conversation with the listing agent and work together to create a detailed inventory list and present it to the buyer(s) prior to signing a contract. It is always best to set clear expectations at the beginning of a negotiation.
As always, if you have any questions in regards to how to effectively create an inventory list or about the conveyance of personal property, we encourage you to reach out to one of the attorneys at Berlin Patten Ebling, or speak with your local real estate attorney for guidance.
This communication is not intended to establish an attorney client relationship, and to the extent anything contained herein could be construed as legal advice or guidance, you are strongly encouraged to consult with your own attorney before relying upon any information contained herein.
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Berlin Patten Ebling, PLLC is one of Southwest Florida's few law firms concentrating on legal, settlement and litigation services specifically focused on real estate and land development. We believe the key to an effective real estate transaction is extreme attention to detail, exemplary service, and frequent and continued contact with all parties. For more information or to contact us, please visit www.berlinpatten.com