What Stays with a Home Upon the Sale?

Let’s admit that sometimes it never crosses a buyer’s mind as to what is staying with the house after the transaction closes. In the MLS listing details, it shows what is included in the sale of the home. But that can often be overlooked. Normal items that are included are a dishwasher, oven/range, microwave and the refrigerator. But there are other potential items that can also be commonly transferred in a sale. These include a washer/dryer, a pool table or a children’s play structure.

What’s Included in the Sale and What’s Not?

It’s a great question to ask and also to think about. Anything that is attached to the property is generally considered as a “fixture”. These types of items include built-in shelving units, window shades and shutters, ceiling fans and lighting. But, in many home sales, it can be more complicated as a seller may have a stained glass light fixture that is sentimental to them and, therefore, exclude the item from the sale of the property. Excluding personal property from a sale can be done contractually and is not an unusual request that we see from sellers. Other items that commonly are sold with the house may include a flat screen TV, wine cooler or bar refrigerator.

For the Seller

If you have an item (such as a chandelier that is a family heirloom), the easiest thing to do is to remove the fixture before listing the house and replace it with a new fixture. By doing so, you can ensure less confusion and provide for a smoother transaction.

For the Buyer

If a buyer is unsure of what stays versus what goes, then the best thing to do is ask. Should the buyer want something specifically to stay with the home, then the best thing to do is put it in the contract. The pre-closing walkthrough can also be a great time for the buyer to make sure that the seller didn’t remove items that were supposed to stay with the property. While traditional sales usually don’t have any complications with regards to fixtures, many short sales have been notorious for the sellers illegally removing the fixtures. Some agents have even seen sellers take all of the light bulbs out of light fixtures as well as any batteries out of smoke detectors. When a seller does violate a contract and takes fixtures, a buyer doesn’t have much recourse.

These items are typically included in the sale of a home:

Hardware: This can include specialized light switch plates, drawer knobs or cabinet pulls.

Landscaping: Basically anything that is planted in the ground should stay. Moveable planters/ pots are usually taken by the seller. Whereas planting beds stay with the property.

Custom items specific to the home: Plantation shutters, custom-made blinds and curtains.

Built-ins: Window seats, bookshelves and benches.

Smoke detectors, sprinkler systems and carbon monoxide detectors.

Alarm systems: Unless they are wireless or have certain restrictions through the alarm company for transfer of ownership.

Wall mounts: Many homes have mounted flat screen TV’s. If the removal of the wall mount may damage the wall then it may be best to leave them in place for the new owner to utilize.

Appliances: Most commonly included in the sale are the oven/range, dishwasher and microwave. Refrigerators are also sold with the property as well. Note that some lenders will not approve a loan if an oven is not installed. Leaving appliances can be an enticing incentive to purchase a home as many buyers like to move in without the hassle of buying appliances.

Air conditioning units: Obviously, the larger ones are a fixture of the property and an attraction for buyers. However, a portable air conditioner in a bedroom window can either sell with the property or be taken by the seller.

The general rule of thumb when selling is that if it is nailed down, then it stays with the property. The topic of what stays with a home versus what goes with one is something that is brought up in every listing contract and further spelled out in the MLS listing details. As a home buyer or seller, it is important to understand what stays with the home.

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