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Everything about the house you just looked at is perfect. The location is great. The layout is ideal, and the square footage is more than adequate. There's a built-in spa on the back deck and a charming weathervane on the roof. You're ready to make an offer before anyone else does.
Don't get in too much of a hurry. There are lots of things to consider before you begin negotiations to buy the house.

Whoa! - Slow Down
Walk through the house again, making a list of items you feel should be part of the purchase price. Just because you regard an item as a permanent fixture does not mean the seller does.

Take Nothing for Granted
Never assume that sellers plan to leave any item behind. The weathervane could be a gift they won't part with. And it may seem odd that a seller would go to the trouble and expense of removing a built-in spa, but I've seen it happen.

If the property is listed with an agency, the Multiple Listing Sheet should include items that are intended to convey with the house. That's a starting point for your list. Common items you'll want to include are the range, refrigerator, microwave, and perhaps the washer and dryer.

How about a large mirror over a fireplace mantel, or even the mantel itself. I was involved in one transaction where the seller made it clear from the beginning that the mantel would not remain. But what if the seller forgot to mention that to her agent? Seeing it listed on an offer to purchase would trigger her memory. Personally I think that for buyer's protection every closing should take place at the house you buy, even if it involves bringing folding tables and chairs for a paperwork.

Other items to consider adding to the list are:

  • Outdoor storage buildings
  • Window treatments
  • Garage door openers
  • Portable air conditioning units
  • Chandeliers and other light fixtures
  • Ceiling fans
  • You might also list items you want to make sure the sellers remove, such as an unused oil storage tank or an old car that doesn't appear to run.

You are basing your offer on the house as it sits with these items. If you discover that any item will not remain you may wish to reconsider the price.

Where to Put It
There may be space for your list within the offer to purchase. If not, make the list on a separate sheet of paper and attach it as an addendum to the contract, where it must be signed by all parties.

Check It Out At Walk-Through
Take your list along for a final walk-through on the day of closing. If an item is missing, you'll have more clout to get it back or negotiate a price reduction if you bring it to everyone's attention before the papers are signed.
Even though most sellers are honest, you should never rely on an oral agreement regarding any aspect of a real estate transaction. The contract should state clearly what stays and what goes, leaving no doubt as to what each party has agreed to.