Should the Washer, Dryer and Refrigerator go with the house?

french door frigThe Washer, Dryer and Refrigerator are generally NOT Real Estate items that go with a house. They are considered to be Personal Property. That is why sometimes you will see a spot where these things go…but no appliance there. That will pretty much NEVER happen with a stove or oven or dishwasher.

A house comes with a stove and oven…pretty much always. It either comes with a dishwasher or it doesn’t, but if it doesn’t have one, it’s not because the seller took it with him. It’s because he never had one. More typical in very old homes, of course, than newer ones.

Because they are personal property, even when the washer, dryer and refrigerator ARE included, they are not usually inspected by the home inspector, nor are they covered appliances in a normal home warranty basic package. Yes-Stove. No-Refrigerator. Yes-Dishwasher. No-clothes washer.

Now let’s look at the odds of your getting a washer, dryer and/or refrigerator in your home or condo purchase.

72% of the sellers of homes sold that were not bank owned or short sales, offered the refrigerator as included in the asking price.

47% of the sellers of homes sold that were not bank owned or short sales, offered the washer and dryer as included in the asking price.

90% of the sellers of condos sold that were not bank owned or short sales, offered the refrigerator as included in the asking price.

70% of the sellers of condos sold that were not bank owned or short sales, offered the washer and dryer as included in the asking price.

52% of the short sale sellers of homes offered the refrigerator as included in the asking price.

29% of the short sale sellers of homes offered the washer & dryer as included in the asking price.

Before I post the stats for Bank Owned Property Sales, note that a bank generally makes “no representations” or guarantees. So there may BE a refrigerator or washer and dryer in that bank sold home, but they are not warranting that it will still be there at closing. If it’s there; it’s there. If it’s not; it’s not. In other words, you can’t refuse to close because the refrigerator took a walk during escrow. Nor can you demand that the bank seller buy you a new washer, dryer or refrigerator if that happens. It’s treated like any other Personal Property left in the home by the previous owner before it foreclosed. It just may happen to be there.

That said, some REO property listing agents did note the following as included.

Only 4% of REO homes sold noted the washer, dryer AND refrigerator as included.

17% noted the Refrigerator as included.

6% noted the washer and dryer as included.

So you are more likely to get a refrigerator in that home purchase

than a washer and dryer

by all accounts.

By no means is it a “given” that the washer, dryer and refrigerator will be included. On the other hand if there is a stove, an oven, a dishwasher and a garbage disposal, it would be rare indeed if any of those appliances were not included and those are usually all covered in the home warranty basic plan.

Microwaves? Most always yes if they are built in like a range hood…and not if they are sitting on the kitchen counter like the toaster and the coffee pot.


(Required Disclosure) Stats are not compiled, verified or published by The Northwest Multiple Listing Service.) Seems odd to have to disclose that, given I’ve never seen an mls do stats about appliances…but just to be safe, including the required disclosure.

32 thoughts on “Should the Washer, Dryer and Refrigerator go with the house?

  1. So when buying a $475,000 home built in 1989, should one consider that there are no appliances when all of them are original? They are in my book considered used up at this point and extended well beyond their life cycle. Would the answer depend on who you ask and at what level they are involved in the transaction?

  2. David,

    Often when the appliances are old the contract will say “washer, dryer and refrigerator AS-IS”, meaning if any decide to finally die during escrow, the seller isn’t going to go and buy a new one prior to closing to put in the house. Same does not hold true for a “built in” appliance like a dishwasher or the electric stove which are supposed to be “in working order” at time of closing.

    I don’t know what you mean by “Would the answer depend on who you ask and at what level they are involved in the transaction?”

    When a property is listed there is a section for “included appliances”, so there is a discussion about it between the Listing Agent and the seller before the home goes in the mls. Then at time of contract, the agent writing the Purchase and Sale agreement (i.e. “offer”) will check the boxes noting appliances that the buyer is asking for, which do not have to match the ones that have been offered by the seller.

    That is why I noted “offered the refrigerator” in my post vs “was sold with” the refrigerator. There may be some where the seller offered but the buyer said “no thanks” and wanted the seller to dispose of the them before closing. There are also some where the seller didn’t offer, but the buyer asked for them and got them as part of the initial contract negotiations.

    I’m looking at a new construction listing on my desk here for over $600,000. “Appliances Included: Dishwasher, garbage disposal, microwave, range/oven”. That doesn’t mean the buyer can’t ask for “an appliance package” meaning washer, dryer and refrigerator as part of the offer.

    In fact the rule of thumb has been that the LESS expensive the property, the more the agent pushes for the seller to include the washer, dryer and refrigerator. That’s why you see in the stats in the post that more condos offer them than single family homes. Theory being that someone buying a condo for $157,000 is less likely to be able to afford to run out and buy new appliances than someone buying a $450,000 house.

    The deciding factor for the seller is sometimes whether or not they came with the house when they purchased the house. If they bought them last year, and washers, dryers and refrigerators these days can be very costly with lots of personal features, they want to take them to their new home. If they got them with the house, they often assume that they are supposed to include them when they sell the house.

    I wrote this post because recently I am noticing some home buyers looking at a space where the washer and dryer are supposed to be the same way they would look at a big hole where the dishwasher is supposed to be.

    Looking at a home warranty brochure. It’s only $255 to cover the plumbing, electrical, central heating system, hot water tank, dishwasher, oven, built in microwave, trash compactor, garage door openers, ceiling fans, toilets, sump pump, built in whirlpool tub, telephone wiring, garage door openers, attic and exhaust fans, doorbell, smoke detectors, instant hot water dispenser and central vacuum.

    But if you want to cover the wash and dryer in the home warranty, it’s an additional $75.
    If you want to cover a built in “sub zero type” refrigerator, it’s an additional $50
    If you want to cover a built in regular refrigerator, it’s an additional $25

    Different warranty brands will have some differences, but noting that washer, dryer and refrigerator are not part of the basic coverages for most warranty companies and not part of the home inspection either, is something worth noting. Otherwise agents take for granted that “everyone knows that” when how would they?

    Refrigerators started to be included when Sub Zero came out and they were built in to match the kitchen cabinets. Before that most every seller planned to take it with them to their new home, unless they really wanted new ones.

    Still…leaving the washer dryer and fridge was considered “a gift” or to “sweeten the pot”. Actually had a seller say recently that they wanted to not include them, and use them to “sweeten the pot” during negotiations. My response was the buyer will likely get ticked off that you thought that would “sweeten the pot”. In fact the final negotiating, that almost nixed everything, was about the washer and dryer. Holding them out like a carrot does not “sweeten the pot” these days. It ticks people off. 🙂

  3. Also worth noting, but off topic, WA is one of the only States I’ve seen that includes curtains as the norm in the boilerplate of the contract. Most all include the blinds or other attached window covering hardware, like the curtain rod. But not the curtain itself. In WA, curtains and drapes are included as shown.

    This can create problems when someone from another State packs up and moves, taking their curtains with them. It also creates problems when the curtains belong to the Home Stager and not the seller. 🙂

  4. Also, in a home inspection the inspector will most always check the stove, oven and dishwasher. When he gets to the washer and dryer, he will more often check for leaks in the plumbing TO the washer, and likely turn over the washer for that reason, but not check the actual washer and dryer. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a home inspector evaluate a refrigerator.

  5. If you are selling to a FHA buyer then leave the built-ins – range and dishwasher – because FHA guidelines require them. All the other stuff can go.

    I’d want to buy my own fridge, and W/D to make sure I had energy efficient models.

    • Haven’t yet seen anyone take the built-ins Jonathan, FHA loan or not. But I’m sure someone has.

      I did see an agent try to push the stove out once…but I stopped him. LOL! It was a house going into foreclosure.

  6. Ardell, have you noticed that distressed properties tend to have appliances removed? I had an REO where days before closing, the washer/dryer disappeared. I’m also hearing that plants from the yard are being ripped off too.

    I think folks who are buying distressed homes should be aware that just because it has a washer/dryer or fridge in it at contract…there may not be one at closing.

  7. I haven’t had much trouble with that. Had one where an expensive Japanese Red Maple Bush was there, but it looked like someone had tried to remove it, and then gave up. But it was that way when we first saw the house, so it could have been done by the previous owner who was foreclosed on.

    This is what I said about REO property in the post.

    “Before I post the stats for Bank Owned Property Sales, note that a bank generally makes “no representations

  8. Practices/customs vary by state. Back east most refrigerators convey unless excluded.

    In doing a comparable price analysis, a buyer needs to account for the
    conveyance of the appliances or not. As the buyer, I want a reduced price or a credit if there is no W/D or refigerator.

    • Your opinion is becoming very commonplace, I agree. Most agents will counsel the seller to include the washer, dryer and refrigerator for that reason. I don’t believe there is any inherent difference between East Coast and West Coast on that though.

      This agent advice to the seller is almost always based on the “guess” of whether people buying the home can afford to go out and buy new appliances right away, and before closing. With most people these days stretching to afford down payments, now that “zero down” has gone away, the expectation that they will have enough money to buy appliances in addition to the cost of buying the house, is less.

      Part of the problem is the high cost of these appliances and fewer people selling their homes at a profit.

      If someone is making no money on the sale of their house, and they just put in a washer and dryer that cost them $1,200 (that they are still making payments on) or a new refrigerator that cost $2,500 (that they are still making payments on), they don’t understand why they should leave them in the house and continue to make payments on them. If their cash at closing is less than the remaining payments on those appliances, it is a very tough choice to leave them behind “for free”.

      In that situation, the seller is likely best off removing the newer appliances they are still making payments on, and replacing them with cheaper working ones bought from Craigslist BEFORE they put the home on market. That resolves the situation for the most part, as long as the appliances are decent looking and in good working order and the refrigerator is not a mismatch to the rest of the kitchen appliances.

      They could offer them to the buyer of the home for the balance due on them, but as you pointed out, that would likely just tick the buyer off.

  9. Clients are looking to feel good about their purchaes. Any extras they can get will make the deal go through, and the buyer will feel good about it. Large appliances can be expensive, but when considering the price/cost of a home, they may appear insignificant. It’s definately something to consider if you want a buyer to be looking at your home, verses the competitors.

  10. I have a question, if you tell your agent the kitchen fridge is included but specifically say the one in the garage is NOT included and he marks that the refrigerator(s) (because that is how it is in the contract) is included, does that mean the one in the garage too? And if the sellers took the one in the garage and the buyers then demanded it or else they will go to small claims court, can the seller just get another fridge and give it to them? (the fridge is seriously worth about $100 but was sent away)… hm. what do you think?

  11. Jessie,

    Just double checked our contracts here and they say refrigerator and not refrigerator(s). What you told your agent was to be included in the mls listing is of no never-mind as buyers can always note additional items to be included as part of the offer that were not offered in the listing.

    That said, this is a fairly common problem. When I write an offer with two refrigerators in the house I always ask my buyer clients if they want to write in the basement fridge or garage fridge and I treat that as a separate item so as to be clear. If they don’t care one way or the other if it stays or goes, we usually just check the refrigerator box. But I have to say that usually the seller does leave both or asks if we want the older secondary fridge before they move it out of the house.

    The only time I had a real problem was when the seller moved the ugly old refrigerator up to the kitchen and left with the good one that was in the kitchen. I happened to have an attorney at that closing and the attorney arranged for a cash adjustment vs moving refrigerators around after closing.

    Did you try offering them the $100? Would it cost more than $100 to move it back there? It seems you are acknowledging that your contract had the option for refrigerator(s) to be plural, and they obviously expected it to stay. If you didn’t move too very far away, it might be easier to send it back. Often the agents resolve this type of issue by finding a solution that works for everyone.

    It’s funny you mentioned this today as I have an escrow where I am concerned that the sellers are not aware of the boxes checked being different than what was “offered in the listing”. They did sign, but you have to wonder sometimes if people pay any attention to all of those checkboxes.

    It’s always a good idea when washers, dryers and refrigerators are included in the contract, differently from that in the listing, to send a reminder to the sellers to not have their movers take them away.

    I would say the #1 oops that leaves at closing are the garage door openers. People often drive off with them inadvertently and have to bring or mail them back.

  12. I just bought a new house and on the contract it had indicated that the Fridge will come with the house. When I moved with the previous owner had taken the fridge. My agent says there’s not much we can do about it but I makes me question why there’s a contract in the first place. What are my options and what should I do?

  13. I usually remind the agent for the seller about the washer, dryer and refrigerator before the seller moves out, as it is pretty hard to get them delivered back to the house.

    I would send a certified letter to the Designated Broker of both brokerages, the one that represented you and the one that represented the seller. Depending on what Companies they are, they would usually work out a satisfactory result. Otherwise, small claims court of the seller moved locally vs out of State. But often the Brokerages will resolve these types of issues.

    Was it a new expensive refrigerator? Try to get the picture from the mls photos. It might be easy to identify the make and model from the photo.

  14. It did not look like an expensive refrigerator, it was fairly small and seemed a bit older. I don’t have any photo of the fridge either. I checked with our agent and they said the seller was willing to help out $100 for us to buy a new fridge. I’m not sure if that’s a good offer though.

  15. The problem with refrigerators leaving when they aren’t supposed to is they are very difficult to transport them back to that spot in the house. Even more difficult in a Seattle townhome, as example, with a full flight of steps and a hardwood floor at the top. Lots of trouble, cost and potential liability for damage to the walls and floors. Often more trouble than it’s worth.

    That is why a dollar credit toward a new one that is delivered and put in place by the store you order it from is almost always the better remedy to bringing the other one back.

    The only true “remedy” is to remind the seller NOT to take it away before they leave and I have not had any issues with refrigerators past the first experience with it back in the early 90s. Once is enough for that problem.

    You can probably buy the same one from Craigslist for $100…but the person you buy it from won’t deliver it. The buying it is the easy part.

  16. Hello, we just sold our house and the buyer did ask for the refrig, stove/range, microwave and DW. We ahve no problem with this at all. However, our oven hood was not in the agreement (cost us $1,400) and we want to take it with us. Is an over hood considered personal property? Can we take this with us? John

  17. JC. No you can not. You can ask a lawyer what happens if you do. But even if the buyer forgot to check the box for dishwasher or range, no one would expect to see a dishwasher or range hood gone before closing. If you wanted to keep your range hood you should have replaced it with a cheap one before you put the home on market, as the one they see is the one they expect to get, so you can’t change it after the fact.

    I don’t remember anyone ever putting range hood in an agreement, nor have I ever seen a seller take one out. It just is not something that is usually specifically addressed. We don’t write in the knobs on the cabinet doors, and I did have a problem with someone taking those once. Not everything in the house that goes with the house is pinned down specifically in the contract.

    I did once see a buyer write in that the light bulbs had to stay, but it was a bit insulting to the seller and they took everything not written in that they normally would have left in the home as a result.

    Now that you mention it though…I may be writing in “range hood” in my future offers. 🙂

    • Light bulbs might have been an insignificant thing in the past, but with LED bulbs costing up to $50 a piece this will become a bigger issue in the future. The solution is the same as suggested before, the seller should replace those expensive bulbs with cheap incandescent ones before showing, but I’m sure a few folks will forget then abscond with the expensive bulbs after closing.

  18. How about if the MLS listing stated the washer and dryer were included but the purchase agreement does not include them? Can the seller take them? (There was no discussion about them)

  19. Lori,

    Very often the mls listing does NOT include the washer and dryer, but the buyer includes them in the offer. If the seller signs that offer without change, then the buyer gets the washer and dryer even though they were not offered in the mls listing. So the reverse would be true as well.

      • The Contract governs the terms of the purchase and not the listing data. The mls listing data “offers” it but the contract confirms whether or not you want it. Sometimes a seller will still leave it if the agent explains their error in not including it in the offer. But if the seller already moved away and it was not in the house at closing, then yes. By not asking for it in the offer that would mean you wanted it removed by closing and you can’t ask for them to bring it back.

  20. Hi Ardell. I know this is an older post, so I don’t really expect a reply. But here goes.
    My Dad just got an offer on his house and accepted it (verbally, so far). Buyer checked the “refrigerator(s)” box to be included in the sale. There is only one refrigerator, and a separate freezer. Is the freezer considered as a refrigerator, or is it technically not included in the sale? I know it’s nit-picky, but the buyers included in the offer that the seller pay $700 additional toward the closing costs. I think that’s pretty nit-picky too!

    • Sorry this reply is late. First time comments get stuck in the moderation bin with the spam sometimes. I’m sure you have already resolved this, but for the benefit of future readers I will respond.

      The buyer asking for $700 toward closing costs is not “nit picky” if in fact the buyer needs $700 toward closing costs to meet the lender’s requirements as to “cash to close” being readily available at time of offer. It is also possible that the $700, since it is an unusual amount, represents an actual repair needed at the house that they found either while viewing the home or as a result of a pre-inspection. Or it could be the aggregate cost of some small repairs needed. But if the buyer included it in the offer, best to assume they had good reason to do so regardless of purchase price (which you note in a 2nd comment.)

      As to refrigerator being checked and there being a freezer in the garage in addition to the refrigerator in the kitchen, that is a very common issue. If the freezer was not called out separately in the offer then it is not usually included EXCEPT that often the seller still leaves it there. If the house is vacant at the time of the offer the seller is usually not coming back to get it and sometimes that becomes an issue if the seller doesn’t want it left at the house. If the home is occupied at time of offer and the sellers have no need for it where they are going or no room for it where they are going, they sometimes leave it for the buyer. Extra things like an extra freezer or a hot tub are sometimes not noted in the offer and are handled during the period between mutual acceptance and closing. Rarely do these issues cause a failure in a contract. Most times the buyer and seller agree and neither feels very strongly as to whether it stays or goes.

      Again, apologies for the delay. It’s been a busy June and July here in the Seattle Area and I was juggling a lot of balls all at once. 🙂

  21. I have a legal question about personal property that was included in the original sales contract.
    I am in the process of purchasing a home in Austin, TX which is scheduled to close on June 30th (in about a week).
    In the original contract the seller agreed to include (for $1) the refrigerator, washer and dryer and a BBQ grill which is attached to a natural gas line in the back of the house. The BBQ grill is not part of any outdoor kitchen and is a type that is on wheels and can be rolled away.
    About a week ago, during the final loan approval process, the lender asked the buyer agent (my agent) to amend the contract to remove the BBQ grill from the original contract and to include it in a personal property addendum, if I still wanted the BBQ grill as part of the home purchase… I’m not sure why the lender wanted to do this, but in order to comply with the lender, I signed the amended contract, specially stating that I still wanted to grill as part of the sale and to send me a new addendum for the BBQ grill.
    After signing the amended contract to remove the BBQ grill from the list, the seller refuses to sign the new addendum for the BBQ grill to be included as part of the sale.
    The seller is now saying that he wants the BBQ grill and the washer and dryer.
    The washer and dryer is still part of the original contract which was amended to remove only the BBQ grill from the list.
    I don’t have any questions about the washer and dryer, because it’s still part of the contract, but as far as the BBQ grill I’m a little unclear.
    I suppose, technically, they can claim the BBQ grill as not being part of the contract since it was amended, however I’m wondering if this matter is actionable under the Specific Performance law.

    • Apologies this is late. I just released your comment from the “pending” comment bin where it was mixed in with some spam. Assuming you have already either gotten the BBQ…or not, I will answer this for you, but also for others who have similar issues who may be reading this in the future.

      In a cash transaction there is not much need to distinguish between real property and personal property. Still a very good idea to have a separate “bill of sale” for most personal property rather than include it in the real property contracts.

      For as far back as I can remember, washer-dryer-refrigerator as a group and separately have always been considered optional as to being included with a house sale. It is important to make this distinction as a home warranty does not automatically cover these items but they do cover stoves and dishwashers and built in microwaves.

      The gas hookup IS part of real estate…the BBQ grill hooked to it is not. Same is true for the washer and dryer hookups vs the actual washer and dryer.

      You ask why the lender wanted the BBQ grill removed from the contract. Pretty simply because they do not want the appearance of it being part of the financing. Whether it is a BBQ grill or a sofa or a boat, all things that the buyer may end up “getting” from the seller, these personal property items should be paid for separately out of closing and a separate Bill of Sale contract.

      So your wanting an addendum to the real estate contract to add it back after the lender said take it out…doesn’t make much sense. If it can’t be in the contract then it can’t be in an addendum to the contract. Same difference.

      Why the seller changed his mind about the washer and dryer and BBQ grill often has something to do with unrelated things that happened from the time you made the offer until the time you closed. Maybe the BBQ issue caused the close date to be late. Maybe the seller was upset about something else you said or did by the end.

      These are small things in the grand scheme of a real estate transaction that agents usually handle in due course. As to being able to sue for specific performance over a BBQ grill as part of a real estate transaction…no…makes no sense since you were the one who asked him to remove it. Usually not necessary to include it in a bill of sale at the same time as you are asking him to remove it for lender reasons. But if you asked him to remove it from the contract without asking him to sign a separate Bill of Sale at the same time, I don’t think you have much recourse there.

      I am in the middle of a transaction where the seller is leaving a couple of TVs. I did not include them in the offer and I did not write a bill of sale because if he does leave them it will be because he doesn’t need them and they are a gift and not part of the purchase. He also left a little saucepan. That is not in the contract either. As real estate agents we don’t want to get too involved in personal property exchanges, especially if they are free or for $1.

      You say that you bought the refrigerator, washer, dryer and BBQ all for $1. Seems to me if he is upset with you for other reasons he can keep them all and hand you back your $1. Stating them separately for $1 was the means by which they made it clear to you there were not included in the purchase price. So if you did end up with everything except the BBQ grill…consider yourself pretty lucky.

      Sometimes it is easier for buyers to understand the personal property vs real property issue by ludicrous example. Washer, dryer, refrigerator, BBQ is the same as the alarm clock on the night stand or the watch on the seller’s arm. They are all personal property and just because some of those are used regularly while at the home vs outside of the home, does not make them any more or less personal property. The dog is at the house and personal property. Asking for the BBQ grill is the in real estate terms the same as asking him for his alarm clock or his watch or his dog. It’s just no “real estate”. Washers, Dryers and Refrigerators are a gray area, usually because if they are electric they just plug in to the wall the same as the alarm clock. These things should be handled on a case by case issue, but never on a financed transaction should personal property outside of a washer dryer and refrigerator be noted in the real estate contract.

      A Bill of Sale is NOT “an addendum” to the real estate contract as you note in your question. It is a separate contract you deal with separately and usually in a small claims court. Odds are in your case your original agreement takes that down to being a case for $1. I don’t know the price of the house, but likely your agent will deal with this to your satisfaction. That is what usually happens.

  22. We’re considering buying a condo.which includes washer and dryer. I love the ones I have so I’d hate to leave them to the new owners of the house we just sold (especially because I feel they got a bargain, including a very nice refrigerator). I am not sure the washer and dryer are working fine and don’t like the idea of getting stuck with them and then having to sell them or give them away. How would you solve this problem?

    • Esther,

      You said, “… I’d hate to leave them to the new owners of the house we just sold (especially because I feel they got a bargain, including a very nice refrigerator). ”

      Most of the time, and pretty much always, you don’t get to decide this at this late stage in the real estate transaction. It sounds like you are already “in contract” with “the new owners of the house you just sold” and that contract will firmly dictate whether or not you have any choice in the matter.

      If your contract says you are supposed to leave the washer and dryer at that agreed upon price, then you have to leave them. If the contract includes the refrigerator but not the washer and dryer, then you are not supposed to leave them in the unit at closing and must remove them unless there is an addendum to the contract allowing you to leave them behind.

      You can amend the contract to ADD something you want to give to them for free, but you can’t amend the contract to NOT GIVE them something you already agreed to give to them in the real estate contract. In our contracts it is easy to miss what you agreed to as to appliances because they are little check boxes. Do check with your agent or attorney as to what you already agreed to do in that contract.

      You can ask the buyers if they really need them because you want to keep them even if you agreed to leave them there, but you need a mutual agreement to change the contract and don’t have the unilateral right to do so.

      You asked: “How would you solve this problem?”

      1) First and foremost find out if you can remove the ones that are in the house, since you already agreed to something. If you did not agree to leave them in the house then you can move them. Problem solved!

      2) When you make your offer on the condo, do not include the washer and dryer as staying and in fact make it clear that they need to be NOT there at closing. Problem solved.

      It sounds like you don’t want the ones in the condo either way. If you can’t take the ones from the house then you probably should just buy new ones for the condo and not bother with the ones that are there.

      Washers and Dryers being included in a sale are always optional BEFORE you are in contract and have agreed to include them or asked for them to be included. Stoves and dishwashers do not have that option, but washers, dryers and usually refrigerators (unless they are “built in”) usually do.

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