The Real Answer to “Does This Come With the House?”

published Sep 12, 2018
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(Image credit: Julia Steele)

If you’ve ever looked at a house for sale and thought to yourself, “That is an incredible washer/dryer set, fridge, piece of artwork, etc.” then you’ll be pleased to know that if you play your cards right, you actually can get it with the house. It just needs to be in your inclusions/exclusions list.

An inclusion/exclusion list (in some cases and countries, they’re referred to as a chattel or property list) is a rundown of what comes with the house and what doesn’t. This section is found in your real estate purchase agreement and it defines what will be considered a “fixture,” or things like shutters, carpeting, cabinets, mirrors, and landscaping that are considered part of the home (though some states consider more items fixtures than others), as well as what items of moveable personal property are included in the sale—”inclusions”—and what is not—”exclusions.” Sometimes it will appear as a checklist, other times it will be a fill-in section completed with you and your agent.

The inclusion and exclusions list basically says whether or not the dishwasher, microwave, fans, play sets, antique chandelier, and even curtains are included with the sale, and it also can be a way for you to get more bang for your buck in the home sale. Though all inclusions and exclusions have to be agreed upon by both buyers and sellers, things that are commonly thrown in as part of the sale are pool tables, large appliances, furniture, and bar stools—many things that actually can save both the seller and buyer money in moving fees. Many sellers see it as a positive, too, since in some less-competitive markets, sellers may include certain items they don’t mind parting with to make the home be seen as more turn key, saving buyers time and money and making a property that much more attractive.

But hard to move items aren’t the only things that can be on an inclusion/exclusion list. In less competitive markets where buyers have more power, they can ask for things like clothes, furniture, decorations, and more to be included in the home sale. “Anything can be on the list, but it’s important to maintain modest expectations,” says Abigail Mervar, a broker and realtor in central North Carolina. “The seller might just agree to it in order to close on a deal, but it isn’t always that simple.”

In her five-year career thus far, she’s seen some pretty outlandish things—like pets, motorcycles, and even pantry staples like rice and cereal—worked into their contract lists. All these requests have been denied from the sellers. The cliché of “the worst they can say is no” rings true, of course, but that resounding “no” to even one aspect of your property list will continue negotiations and counteroffers even longer. And in an already emotional process, outlandish asks can ruin goodwill between buyers and sellers. Sellers might have ties to a lot of the possessions within their home, so exercising tact can make all the difference when making certain requests.

With these things in mind, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t take inventory of some of the furniture or goods present in a home when you go for a walkthrough. Home purchases are substantial amounts of money, and it’s never a bad thing to want as much as you can get for the investment you’re about to make. Always enlist the judgment and guidance of your real estate agent, too. Go into your home purchase with clear expectations, optimism, and a pinch of bravado when it comes time to ask for the things that you want—but be practical. In order to save everyone some time and frustration, it’s vital that you are specific in your requests and that you ensure your deal doesn’t hinge on the things you’ve asked for in the property list; besides, it would be fun to go out and get new things for your new space anyways. You never know—your confidence and ability to ask for what you want could land you some pretty great stuff along with a new house in the end.