We recently closed a purchase transaction for a couple who signed an agreement for a home valued at just under $1M. The “Chattels Included” section on the standard OREA form included the words “all window coverings now on the property.” Naturally, our clients thought they were getting all window coverings, whether they were blinds, shades, curtains or any other type.
Prior to closing, during one of their visits to the property, our clients discovered that some curtains had been removed, and some of the fancier blinds had been replaced with cheaper ones. The sellers were urged to return the window coverings that were present at the time of signing the agreement but refused to do so. An agreement to holdback funds also could not be reached.
To avoid further hassle and expenses, our clients closed on their new home, and will now be seeking compensation from the sellers in court. This is generally not the ideal option for anyone, as it involves, time, money and stress.
Purchasers and sellers typically do not see the need to be overly specific when listing items in the “chattels included” section of their agreement of purchase and sale. The thought of the sellers replacing their stainless steel appliances with cheaper ones prior to closing generally does not even cross a purchaser’s mind. I have come across many purchasers who say they trust the sellers and do not want to offend them by being too specific with the items listed in this section.
My advice to purchasers and sellers is to list as much detail as possible to make it clear to any third party as to what was intended to be purchased or sold with the home.
Being specific in an agreement of purchase and sale will not offend anyone — it benefits both parties and ensures that everyone gets and gives only what they intended. In the case of appliances, for example, model and/or serial numbers could be included in an attached schedule. In the case of window coverings, more specific terms could be used such as wooden horizontal blinds and curtains.
Pictures can also be attached for greater clarity. Remember, disputes like the one mentioned above do not only occur as a result of bad faith. It is quite possible that the sellers in the above scenario never intended on selling certain window coverings (possibly due to them being custom made to match their furniture), and the agreement should not have read “all window coverings.”
I am guessing that our clients will be successful in their claim, as the sellers have disputed that curtains are a type of window covering.