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When it comes to a wall-mounted television…does it stay or does it go?

By Carl Horst

The process of buying a home is a case study in the art of negotiation.

Everything — from the purchase price to occupancy dates to the inclusion of appliances to “repairs” of issues raised during an inspection — are subjected to a give and take between the buyer and seller. Heck, even the commission a real estate professional earns is negotiable.

More often than not, the contract used by the buyers and sellers specifically deals with each of these issues. But when it comes to the matter of fixtures — you know, those things such as lights, ceiling fans, shades, etc. — things can become a little less black and white.

Lorie Garland, assistant vice president of legal services at the Ohio Association of REALTORS, says the OAR Legal Hotline has recently received calls on whether wall-mounted, flat screen televisions are considered fixtures.

“Most Local Board or standard contracts allow the parties to explicitly list the items that are included with the purchase and also have space that allows for a listing of items that are specifically excluded,” Garland said. “Wall-mounted televisions are relatively new in the marketplace and some of the contracts don’t specifically address whether they stay or go.”

Garland notes that if the contract doesn’t specifically address things like wall-mounted televisions, assumptions should not be made and that a discussion between the buyer and seller should transpire to avoid disputes.

“Obviously, the best option is having the contract be as exhaustive as possible with regard to what is part of the purchase and what is not,” she said. “That discussion, early in the process, can save all parties a lot of headaches down the line.”

Under Ohio law, if something is affixed to the property it stays. One factor to determine whether or not something is a fixture, is to look at how it’s attached to the property and what type of damage its removal will cause.

If disputes aren’t resolved between the parties, it can become a deal breaker and the buyer and seller might need to talk to an attorney.

“It’s highly unlikely that anyone involved in buying or selling a home wants the contract to fall apart over a wall-mounted television…at least one hopes,” Garland noted. “It’s just one more thing that REALTORS need to be aware of when working with buyers and sellers and make sure that everyone understands if it’s part of the purchase agreement.”

Tags: legal