Tuesday, April 29, 2014

What stays with the house when it is sold?

Sometimes there are misunderstandings about what goes and what stays when a home is sold. Nasty emails and phone calls between buyers, sellers and real estate agents after the sale are common. Some people even end up in court because buyers assume that sellers would be leaving something behind.

In many cases, it depends on laws of the state. In other cases, it merely depends on what is customary for your location. That’s why it is important to work with a local REALTOR® who knows the ins and outs of the local market.

The question to ask is “Is it permanently attached?” If so, it’s fixture, and usually, it stays. However, some fixtures fall into the category of personal property. And that’s where we enter a gray area.

What is personal property?

Beds and furniture … there’s little question that they are personal property. Mirrors, art, chandeliers … they may seem custom made to fit the home, but they still fall under the category of personal property, even though the art may look as if it were made specifically for the home. If there is a question, it’s always best to ask. And get it in writing.

Here are three things usually included in the sale:


It’s not the norm everywhere to include all major appliances - including refrigerators and dishwashers - with the property. Always ask your REALTOR® about what is customary. If there’s any doubt, be sure to put it in writing as to what exactly is to be left behind, up to and including name brands.

Window Coverings

If there are window coverings present, they usually stay with the new owner. However, be sure to ask. The seller may have had the drapes custom made to match the furniture and will want to take the drapes to their new home. Make sure to ask and get it in writing.

Flat Screen TVs

TVs used to fall under personal property 100% of the time. Used to. But now media rooms and the large, flat screen, high definition TVs that are now professionally mounted above the fireplace or on the wall like a piece of art with the wires running through the walls are common. As a result, TVs are considered fixtures. Again, make sure to ask and get it in writing.

Sometimes sellers decide that they want to keep something or that they will part with it for a price. Sellers should document everything that will be included and will be excluded so there’s no doubt in the buyer’s mind what stays and what goes. Buyers should be as detailed as possible from the beginning and always ask the real estate agent during the showing or open house. If they say it’s included, make sure to get it in writing.

One more warning: Sometimes sellers will advertise “Appliances are included” and replace their high end appliances with lower-end models. Make sure to specify that “existing appliances” are included. And get it in writing.

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