Attached and Unattached Goods
Purpose: To explain the difference between attached and unattached goods and the importance to include or exclude them in a contract.
This bulletin applies to real estate brokerages, brokers, associate brokers and associates.
You should review the concept of attached/unattached goods with your client. Your client should understand the goods typically included or not included in the sale of a property. As a real estate professional, you must ensure your client’s listing agreement or offer reflects their wants regarding attached and unattached goods.
What are attached or unattached goods?
Attached goods are items you cannot remove from the property without causing damage. Attached goods stay with the property. The offer to purchase contract must identify any attached goods the seller will remove.
Unattached goods are movable items. The seller will remove these goods unless the buyer negotiates for them to stay. The offer to purchase contract must identify any unattached goods that are to remain.
What are inclusions or exclusions?
An exclusion is an attached good the seller will not include in the sale of the property. An inclusion is an unattached good the buyer wants or the seller will include in the sale of a property. The buyer and the seller can negotiate any inclusions or exclusions. The purchase contract must identify any inclusions or exclusions. The listing agreement must reflect what the seller will include or exclude.
It is up to the real estate professional to give competent advice and service when drafting contracts. If you are not sure if a sale includes or excludes a good, it is best practices to clarify the issue in the offer.
Mitigating issues at possession
There are steps the buyer and you can take to help mitigate problems at possession. The buyer can negotiate a term in the contract where the seller agrees to let the buyer walk-through the property immediately before possession. The purpose of this walk-through lets the buyer see the condition of the property and confirm any inclusions or exclusions meet the terms of the contract. If there is a problem the buyer identifies, the parties can then negotiate a mutually satisfactory resolution before possession.
Remedies after possession
When there is a problem with attached or unattached goods after possession, and the seller does not cooperate, legal action is the only remedy. The buyer should consider the value of the missing goods over the costs of legal action.
The dining room light is an example of an attached good that a seller may not want to include in the sale of the property. The best practice is for the listing to identify the dining room light fixture will not remain. The offer must also reflect this fact. The seller may indicate in the listing agreement if they will replace the light fixture, credit the buyer an amount for a new light fixture or do nothing.
The garage door opener controls and power head for built-in vacuum system or examples of unattached goods that a buyer wants to include the purchase price of the property. The buyer should clearly indicate in the offer that these unattached goods would remain with the property.
If you are not sure about whether something is to stay or go, put it in the offer.
Here are some examples of attached and unattached goods you might see in a contract:
- water softener
- curtain rod brackets and blinds
- built-in appliances (i.e. most dishwashers)
- kitchen cabinets
- built-in vacuum canister
- garage door opener
- carpet glued or stretched in
- wall art
- drapes hooked on curtain rod
- book shelves (not built-in)
- rolling kitchen cart
- movable kitchen island
- appliances that are not built-in (i.e. countertop microwave)
- built-in vacuum power head and attachments
- garage door remote controls
- fireplace screen, tools and remote controls
- area rug
- in commercial transactions, everything other than the four walls is typically “unattached” and should be specified in any Purchase Contract (i.e. equipment, hoists)