Plants, landscaping can be included in your home purchase offer

Can the owners of the house I’m buying take the perennials with them?

With summer just around the corner, many of us look forward to enjoying time outdoors, including in our backyards. So it is understandable that a well landscaped garden with mature plants and trees on a property can be very appealing and a powerful motivating factor in home buying.

It sounds like you do too and that perennials play a role in your purchasing decision. The question is: do they count as part of the purchase?

Typically, floor plants are considered part of the home and are included in the sale. This is because they are an integral part of the property and cannot be removed without damaging the landscaping. These would be included in the bill of sale – much like all interior fittings, unless and until specified as excluded.

Having said that, I would like to point out that there are many gray areas when it comes to what is included or excluded from a particular home sale. Unfortunately, disputes arise between buyers and sellers about the condition of a home on the closing date of the sale.

To prevent this from happening to you, I would advise you to exercise your due diligence and take steps to protect your interests. I would suggest that you share with your real estate agent the importance of the plants and landscaping, ask questions, and go through your expectations of what you think is part of the home.

Carefully record and document all furniture and fixtures, including any plantings, to be included in the home and ask that they be included in the agreement. For specific moveable items, even beyond garden plants, add names, model numbers, or online photos to make it clear what they are. It would not be helpful to include general statements. Be precise.

This allows your agent to ensure that the purchase agreement specifically states the condition of the garden and its contents, as well as clearly documenting any other fixtures and fittings that will need to be in place once the sale is complete.

You and your agent can also discuss ways to view your new home just before closing time. This gives you the opportunity to inspect the garden and perennials and make sure they are in the same condition that you submitted the bid. This is a common practice in real estate transactions and can be addressed during negotiations. However, depending on when your completion date is, and knowing the limited growing season we have in Ontario, this may not always be a plausible option.

If you and your agent take all of these steps, you should be confident that you and the seller are on the same page, the perennials will still be there on the day of the deal, and you can enjoy them for years to come. All the best.

If you have a question about the home buying or selling process, please email information@reco.on.ca.

Joe Richer is a registrar for the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO). This column is for general informational purposes only and is not intended as legal or professional advice regarding real estate transactions. Follow RECO on Twitter: @RECOhelps

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