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Sellers be clear about property fixtures and fittings
Legislation in South Africa is increasing the need for home owners to declare what is remaining and going in terms of property fixtures and fittings prior to buyers viewing the home. Preferably the items removed that the seller/s would like to keep.
“Although it is as yet untested in the real estate context, the CPA does provide that there should be no ambiguity, let alone deception, when goods or services are advertised for sale or promoted in any way,” he notes, “so our advice to sellers is always to remove any fixtures that will not be included in the sale before putting their homes on show.”
By definition, a fixture is moveable “personal”
Blinds are also usually permanently attached and thus could quite reasonably be assumed by a homebuyer to be included in the sale, as could ceiling fans, light fittings, built-in water features, fireplaces, ovens, bookcases and bars, swimming pool and borehole pumps, TV aerials and satellite dishes and plants or trees that are growing in the ground.
“And yet,” says Everitt, “we often come across sellers who would like to take some or all of these fixtures with them to their new homes, as well as their furniture, artwork, loose carpets and mirrors, pot plants and other items of ‘personal’
“We have also seen disputes arise over items that are themselves not fixed in place but without which certain fixtures do not work, such as garage door remotes, pool cleaners, the batteries for a solar power system and recently, the LPG cylinders for a gas stove and fireplace.”
But given the provisions of the CPA, he says, it may now not be enough for the seller just to state in the Offer to Purchase that certain fixtures will not form part of the sale. “Besides which, we don’t believe it is fair to show prospective buyers a home with all the ‘trimmings’
“On the other hand, it is better for sellers in the long run if, as part of staging their home before a showday, they take away the fixtures that are not for sale. What prospective buyers do not see, they cannot assume to be included or argue about later.”
Meanwhile, if buyers are still concerned, they should be sure to ask specifically if certain fixtures that they like are included in the sale, and to have these individually written into their Offer to Purchase.