By Monte Mohr

If you're in the market to buy a house you need to be aware that sometimes what you see is not what you get. It's really important that you have a qualified real estate professional guiding you through the buying process so you can avoid any surprises.

Real estate transactions can be riddled with gray areas when it comes to the personal property you see in a house. Your sales contract may or may not itemize every feature that is to be left behind when you take possession as the new owner. As a buyer it's never safe to assume that something you see with the property comes with the house.

When buying a home, make sure that your sales contract includes specific details about any feature you want. Your requests need to be in writing to avoid any disappointment or surprises at the closing table. While disputes can occur over just about anything, there are a few property features that more commonly known to lead to misunderstandings. If you pay close attention to the items below, you can greatly reduce your chances of feeling disappointed or frustrated at closing.

Household Appliances


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This is a biggie. Standard practice fluctuates between local markets. And believe it or not, there are markets where it isn't standard for sellers to leave behind major household appliances such as refrigerators, dishwashers, or washer/dryers. If you liked the appliances you saw when touring the home, you must be VERY specific in requesting that the "existing" appliances be included. Buyers who simply request "appliances to be included in the sale" have been known to be shocked when the high-end appliances they were expecting are swapped out for low-end replacements.

Window Coverings

Unlike the fluctuating standards that apply to household appliances, it is customary in almost all markets that the new owner keeps any window coverings that are present. Window coverings can include blinds, shades, and curtains or drapes. Typically, blinds and/or shades are custom fit for windows and they are usually attached to the wall. And even though curtains/drapes generally hang from a mounted rod that is attached to the wall, they are decorative and there have been sellers who want keep their drapes -- particularly if they were made to match the furniture. When in doubt, put it into writing and include the window coverings; but remember to specify that you want the "existing window coverings."

Personal Items That Are "Attached" to the Property

This can be a tricky area to navigate so work closely with your real estate agent. The old school train of thought was that "if it's attached to the house, it stays with the new owner," but that thinking does not necessarily hold true anymore. Should a large custom mirror go to the new owner or stay with the original owner? What about that flat screen TV that's so beautifully mounted to the wall? Many times it's a thin line that separates an included property feature from personal property. Perhaps there's a custom light fixture, ceiling fan, or chandelier that is perfectly suited for the home, but the seller intends to take it with them. Be sure to think about these items carefully and if you feel strongly that they should remain in the home, get it in writing and put it into the sales contract.

Monte Mohr has sold more than 2,500 homes, making him one of America's top Realtors for the last 25 years. This experience has given him a unique perspective on the Nashville real estate market where he can be found at http://www.tennesseedreamhomes.com. He is also a regular contributor of real estate advice to Nashville's NBC affiliate station, WSMV Channel 4. To learn more about Monte Mohr's experience as a real estate agent, to get free advice about your biggest real estate challenges or to request an interview, please contact him at Info@TennesseeDreamHomes.com.