RE Q&A: What if a Seller Replaces the Good Stuff?

During a final walk-through, the buyer realized the seller had replaced expensive chandeliers and appliances with cheaper versions. What do they do next?

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Question: We are buying a new home and did our walk-through before the closing. Not only was the fancy chandelier changed for a simple ceiling light, but the high-end washer and dryer had been replaced with well-used basic models.

We are distraught. What can we do? – Jon

Answer: When people agree to buy and sell a property, they must sign a written agreement. The contract must have the specific terms of the deal, such as timing, price, contingencies, and what is and is not included with the home.

Buying property includes the land, the structures built on it, and the appliances and fixtures permanently attached to the structures. This includes things like doors, pool filters, light fixtures and garage openers.

Standard real estate contracts include a pre-printed section listing what is included. Most of these lists include kitchen appliances, lights, window treatments, and other fixtures. The contracts also have space to add or exclude specified items.

Your first step is to review your purchase contract to ensure the washer, dryer, and chandelier are included. Chandeliers can have sentimental value and are a fixture I often see expressly excluded.

If your contract lists these items as included, even, for example, if it lists “appliances” that would include the washer and dryer, it means that the exact item in the home when you sign the contract must be there at closing. It cannot be replaced unless it breaks during the contract term, and then it needs to be replaced with something similar.

If the contract lists, for example, the stove, it must be the same stove that was there or a similar replacement, not a lesser model. Similarly, if the dishwasher worked when you signed the contract, it must also work on closing day.

After reviewing your contract, you might need to delay closing while the appliances and chandelier are returned or a monetary credit is negotiated.

In my law practice, the problems I see usually involve laundry machines, chandeliers and automated pool cleaners, so make sure you address these items when buying or selling if these items are important to you.

Copyright © South Florida Sun Sentinel, Gary M. Singer. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC. All rights reserved.


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