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Before signing, always review the contract to make sure it includes everything expected

By ERIC FEICHTHALER - Real Estate Law | Feb 25, 2021

Eric Feichthaler

Dear Mr. Feichthaler:

I recently signed a contract to purchase a house in Cape Coral. The owners recently upgraded their washer and dryer to a very high end model, and I expected it would be included in the purchase. The sellers actually told me it would be.

I took a moment to review the contract and see that there is a pre-printed list of items, like stove and refrigerator, but the washer and dryer are not included. I am concerned that on closing day, the washer and dryer will be gone, and that I will need to spend thousands to replace with similar equipment. What should I do?

— Nancy G.

Dear Nancy:

Before signing a contract for the purchase and sale of real estate, it is always vital to review the contract for specifics on what is included and excluded. In the standard “as-is” contract used in most Cape Coral real estate transactions, the washer and dryer are not automatically included. Any discussions you have with the seller will likely be considered negotiations, with the signed, written contract being the authority on what is included. With it not expressly included, you have a few options.

First, you can ask the seller to sign an addendum specifically adding the washer and dryer to the purchase. Ideally, you are still within your inspection period, which would allow you to cancel the contract at any time, for any reason. If the seller does not agree in writing to what they agreed to verbally, you could cancel the contract. If the inspection period has passed, the seller may be less inclined to revise the contract. You may have other ways to terminate the agreement to purchase, but more details would be needed.

In many cases, leaving out personal property like this was simply an oversight, and the seller will happily agree to the change, rather than potentially lose you as a buyer. Whether you hire a real estate attorney to review a contract, or you are reviewing on your own, I always advise that purchases like this will likely be among the largest financial transactions a person will make in their lives. It is so important to carefully review what you are signing before going forward. Doing so provides a much better chance of a smooth purchase that is completed with no surprises. I hope you will experience that in this transaction.

Eric P. Feichthaler has lived in Cape Coral for over 33 years and graduated from Mariner High School in Cape Coral. After completing law school at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., he returned to Southwest Florida to practice law and raise a family. He served as mayor of Cape Coral from 2005-2008, and continues his service to the community through the Cape Coral Caring Center, Cape Coral Historical Museum, and Cape Coral Kiwanis. He has been married to his wife, Mary, for over 20 years, and they have four children together. He earned his board certification in Real Estate Law from the Florida Bar. He is AV Preeminent rated by Martindale-Hubbell for professional ethics and legal ability, and is a Supreme Court Certified Circuit Civil Mediator.

Mr. Feichthaler can be reached at eric@capecoralattorney.com, or (239) 542-4733.

This article is general in nature and not intended as legal advice to anyone. Individuals should seek legal counsel before acting on any matter of legal rights and obligations.