I recently completed a purchase for a wonderful young couple. This was not their first home but it was a significantly nicer, more expensive home than their first. Over the course of three weeks, we previewed 27 homes and put in two offers. Unfortunately, we did not get the first home but were pleased when our offer for the second was accepted.
During the inspection period, several items were identified that needed repair or replacement. One of these items was the dishwasher. However, before we could submit our list of items we wanted to be repaired or replaced the seller’s agent notified us the seller had installed a new, brand name dishwasher. This was a welcome surprise.
Three weeks later we are doing our final, pre-closing walkthrough and guess what? The new brand name dishwasher had been removed and replaced with a used, sub-standard machine. I couldn’t believe my eyes! I immediately contacted the seller’s agent who was equally surprised. He contacted his client and within 30 minutes responded. His client claimed that the new dishwasher had quit working so he purchased this used unit and had the other replaced. Although this seemed perfectly logical to the seller it was a deal breaker for my clients. We had given up many items as concessions and this was simply the straw that was breaking the camels back. The seller claimed that he did nothing wrong since he replaced a non-working dishwasher with a working model.
The problem is that the replacement unit was not the one in place when we agreed to purchase the house. In short, once the purchase agreement is signed all items appurtenant (meaning attached to, or part of) the home are no longer the property of the seller but are the property of the buyer. These items include dishwasher, garbage disposal, built-in microwave ovens, a/c units, built-in bookcases, closet shelving, clothes rods, TV wall mounts, blinds and shutters, and the like. Before removing or changing any appurtenant item requires permission of the buyer and should be formalized by an addendum to the purchase agreement.
In this instance, my client could have terminated the contract for breach and would have been entitled to a refund of his security deposit. Fortunately, the seller agreed to compensate my client $450 to allow the deal to close escrow. But the aggravation and time and effort it took to resolve the matter was unnecessary. So remember, if it’s part of the house it stays with the house.