One thing that makes a real estate transaction so confusing is the issue of what stays with the house and become the new owner's, and what goes with the seller once they move out of the property. Oftentimes, sellers believe that if it’s something that they have installed in the home and spent money on, they can take it with them. Their views of what are fixtures and what can be considered as their personal belongings may be shrouded by their attachment to the home. Unfortunately, that’s just not how it works.
Taking out something you haven't disclosed upfront, including in writing, or even negotiated to keep with you, can cause the most heated debates during and even after the home sale. Also, it’ll be annoying for any buyer to find items like kitchen door handles to be missing from their rightful place.
It’s important that you clearly spell out and negotiate in your real estate purchase contracts what is included and what is not included in the sale of the home. It’s something that needs to be agreed upon by both parties to ensure a smooth transaction.So, what stays in the house and what goes with you when you move?
Anything that is bolted, mounted or nailed down
What is a fixture and what is not? According to real estate website Inman, a fixture is any personal property that is physically attached to the land or structure by bolts, nails, screws, cement, or any other attachment method. These are immovable elements of the home that are converted to real property. Likewise, if a house has been modified to fit an item perfectly, it is considered a fixture.
Fixtures can be a major cause of misunderstanding between sellers and buyers during the home sale process especially if they are not included in writing. If a wall has a hole that accommodates an air-conditioning unit, then it is most likely a fixture. If the home has a ceiling fan installation, a seller should replace his personal lovely ceiling fan with an old one he doesn't want to take. Fixtures stay with the house even if the sellers want it.
Likewise, the most common gray areas with fixtures are mirrors and flat-screen TVs and their mounting mechanisms. Mirrors are considered fixtures if they are bolted to the bathroom or bedroom wall. But if they are just hanging on a wall, sellers could take them since they are considered personal property.
Flat-screen TVs, on the other hand, are considered personal property of the sellers, especially if they are expensive, high-definition type. Similarly, they can also take the television’s mounting mechanism, unless it is detailed in the sale that the TV will be part of the home sale or the buyer wants to include it in the real estate negotiations.
Anything that is built-in or cemented into the ground
Window treatments and coverings
Hardware on the kitchen and bathroom
Plants, trees and any landscaping
Above-ground spa and/or swimming pool
- After discussing what stays and goes, specify the things you want to take with you on your property listing. As the seller, be specific and avoid saying uncertain things like “probably” or “most likely.” Be sure to document it all in writing and in your marketing materials so there won't be any confusion with the buyer. It’s a crucial thing for buyers especially when they make an offer for the home.
- Take anything you want to keep with you before listing your home for sale. Then replace them with something else that might go as fine or acceptable. Don’t make a show-stopping chandelier a part of your home staging if you have no plans to leave it on the house and pass it to the new owner.
- We understand the mixed feelings you have as you sell your home, but avoid giving any sentimental value on simple tools like doorknobs, 60-watt light bulbs, or pegboard hooks. Never take them with you when you vacate the property. Often, these are things that aren’t really worth chasing after but can annoy the new homeowner. Hiring an experienced local real estate agent can help you sell your home for top dollars so you don’t have to worry about leaving petty hardware behind.
- Perhaps it would be safer not to assume that everything you see on the property comes with it and will be part of the home sale. If there's something you really like and want it to stay in the house once you become the new owner, don’t be afraid to speak up! Include all of the items in your purchase offer and be as detailed as possible. That way, both parties will avoid any confusion, disappointment, or worse — nasty exchange of emails and even a lawsuit for the seller — once the deal closes.