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What Stays and What Goes – negotiating attached and unattached goods in a purchase or sale of a home

When buying or selling a home, it’s important to know what items will be included in the sale. As a buyer, you don’t want to be disappointed on possession day to find that something you expected to be there is not. And as a seller, you don’t want to give up something you cherish or even be sued after the sale. 

To avoid disputes, attached and unattached goods (as they’re referred to in Alberta’s standard Residential Purchase Contract – also known as chattels and fixtures) should always be identified in both the listing and purchase contracts to avoid later disappointment by either party.

As the name suggests, unattached goods are items that can be easily removed from the home without causing damage to the property. These items are generally assumed to be excluded from the purchase unless specifically identified in section 1.b of the Purchase Contract. Unattached goods commonly included here are large appliances like the refrigerator, stove, and dishwasher, or a hot tub.

Attached goods are fixed to the home (nails, bolts, glue, pipes, etc.) and are generally assumed to be included in the purchase. These include items like window coverings, ceiling fans, light fixtures/chandeliers, and even flower beds or shrubs.

When listing your home for sale, it’s important to decide what will stay and what will go and include them in your listing and purchase contracts. You should also talk to your Realtor about removing items you intend to keep before you start showing your home to potential buyers (like your grandmother’s antique mirror or your favourite chandelier) so the buyer doesn’t expect them to be included or ask for them during negotiations. If you intend to “swap out” items, you should do it before showings or be clear about it in the contracts too… for example, if you’re taking the gas range and replacing it with the stove in your garage or trading the designer light fixtures for standard ones, your buyers should know upfront.

If you’re a potential buyer, it’s a good idea to be very specific about the appliances and items you want or expect to be included and have your Realtor write them into your offer.

Be thorough with your Realtor and cover the gray areas too… for example, wall mounted TVs (the mounts are generally considered to be attached, but what about the TV itself?), hot tubs, ornate mirrors or curtain rods, built- in shelving (including the ones in your garage), and even light fixtures and ceiling fans are common items of contention. Addressing them up front in the listing and purchase contracts is the best way to avoid issues – and possible legal disputes – after possession.

Written by CIR REALTY



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