Important to list items that are not permanent fixtures when signing offer to purchase

09 September 2014

When listing or putting in an offer on a property, be sure to check that anything that is not of a permanent nature but appears to be fixtures and are meant to be included in the sale of the house, are listed in the offer to purchase, says Lanice Steward, managing director of Knight Frank Residential SA. 

An example of this is a satellite dish.  The majority of sellers will automatically include this as a fixture because the cost of moving it is about the same as putting up a new dish. (Today this is most unusual as the overwhelming majority of homes already have dishes.)  However, unless specified on the listing sheet or agreement of sale as a fixture, this could cause a problem should the owner decide to remove it. 

Other items such as pot plants, bookshelves that seem to be built in but are not, freestanding wardrobes, kitchen preparation islands or blocks on castor wheels, stoves that are plug-in and not built into the counter, fireplace screens, fireboxes (the kind that do not need a flue), swimming pool cleaning equipment, burglar alarms, etc., should be listed specifically in the deed of sale if they are to be included, and the buyer should ask about items that he thinks will remain in the home but the seller has not mentioned, said Steward.  

If the property has been rented to a tenant for a while, the landlord might not have realised that the tenant has installed a burglar alarm or the newer portable CCTV monitoring systems, and intends taking it with him when he leaves.  The buyer on the other hand, will have viewed the property thinking that they are all staying, and so mistakes can be made in assuming what is part of the sale and what is not, she said.

“Pay careful attention to detail,” she advised.  “There is no such thing as overdoing it, and in the listing sheet, it should actually mention whether certain items are owned or rented, so that there is clarity on what is staying or going.”