You may have heard the unfortunate story from friends or family – they bought their dream home only to find that some of the items they thought would be considered property fixtures, and would be sold with the property, were removed before they moved in. If you are considering buying a property there are simple things you can do to try and avoid this situation happening to you.
What are property fixtures?
Property fixtures are objects attached to land or a building in such a way that they regarded as an irremovable part of the property you are considering buying.
Some typical property fixtures in a home include the hot water service, range top, wall oven, fixed floor coverings, light fittings, and a built-in (under bench) dishwasher.
Garden plants, including bushes and trees are also ‘fixtures’.
Owners are entitled to remove property fixtures when they sell their property. If they intend to do so, the items to be taken away should be specifically recorded in the contract of sale. If they are not recorded as being removed, they will pass to you with the property. To be in the best position when it comes time to move in, there are a few simple steps you can take:
- Make a list – If you are interested in buying, always quiz the agent about which items are sold with the property and, importantly, which are not. Make a list of both. Also ask the agent if the owner intends to remove anything from the garden. If the answer is yes, add the items to your list.
- Cross-check the contract – Make sure you check the contract of sale to see what items are being sold with the property and check them against the list you prepared when speaking with the agent. If there is a discrepancy, have it corrected to your satisfaction, before you sign.
- Take photos – Nowadays it is simple to take pictures of specific items being sold with a property and store them electronically. It is sound common sense to do this and you should attend to it, before signing the contract. If you create a photographic record, you can refer to it when you conduct your final inspection during the week preceding the settlement of your purchase. This way any discrepancies will be immediately apparent.
A word of warning
The standard contract of sale of real estate in widespread use in Victoria does not allow you to delay settlement because the items you have bought with the property are not in the same condition they were in when you signed the contract. If that is of genuine concern – taking into account the items involved – you may want to negotiate with the agent to see if the seller will agree to modify the contract to your satisfaction, before you sign.