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Navigating the Fine Line: What Sellers Can Take and What Stays When Selling a Home

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Selling a home can be an emotional and overwhelming process, and there is a lot to consider.

One area that often brings confusion for both sellers and buyers is what personal property can be taken by the seller, and what should remain with the home.

In this blog post, we’ll shed light on the essentials of what sellers can legally take with them, when they sell their property, and what items are typically expected to be left behind.

What Sellers Can Take

  1. Personal Belongings: Sellers are generally entitled to take their personal belongings that are not attached to the property. This includes items such as clothing, furniture, electronics, and other personal possessions.

  2. Potted Plants and Garden Décor: Sellers can usually take potted plants and garden decorations that are not planted in the ground, or permanently installed.  However, if a plant is rooted and part of the landscaping, it should remain.

What Stays Behind

  1. Permanent Fixtures: Anything that requires a tool to remove, or is bolted, nailed, wired, cemented, or permanently
    glued to the property becomes a fixture – and fixtures stay behind when the seller leaves. These include items like built-in appliances, HVAC systems, light fixtures that are hardwired, and in-wall shelving. Items that are required to operate the fixtures or home systems, for example smart HVAC controllers and garage door remotes, generally convey with the property.

  2. Structural Elements: Elements that are integral to the structure of the house, such as walls, windows, doors, and built-in cabinets, must remain with the property.

  3. Landscaping: Landscaping features that are in the ground, like trees, bushes, and flowerbeds, should remain as part of the property. Heavy water features that are difficult to move, may be considered a fixture, and thus convey with the property. 

  4. Built-In Features: Features like countertops, bathroom vanities, and kitchen cabinets that are permanently attached should not be removed by the seller.

  5. Any Agreed-Upon Inclusions: Sellers should carefully review the purchase agreement to see if any specific items are listed as inclusions in the sale. If an item is agreed upon as part of the sale, the seller should leave it behind.

Avoiding Confusion

To prevent misunderstandings and legal disputes, clear communication is essential between the seller and the buyer. 

Here are some suggested steps to ensure a smooth transition:

  1. Make a Detailed Inventory: Create a comprehensive list of items that will be included in the sale and those that you plans to take with you. Where possible, remove and/or replace the items that you want to take before you list the home. Share this comprehensive list with potential buyers.

  2. Specify in the Purchase Agreement: The purchase agreement should explicitly outline what items will be included in the sale. If certain items are of particular importance to either party, it’s wise to detail them in writing.

  3. Walk-Through Inspection: Consider conducting a final walk-through with the buyer before closing. This is an opportunity to confirm that the property is in the agreed-upon condition and that all inclusions are present.

  4. Consult Professionals: If there’s any uncertainty about whether an item should stay or go, it’s advisable to seek guidance from legal professionals, or real estate agents experienced in such matters.



In conclusion, navigating the divide between what sellers can take and what should stay behind requires really understanding the distinction between personal property and fixtures.

By taking deliberate steps to avoid any confusion, sellers can help to ensure a seamless transaction that satisfies all parties involved.

Remember, transparency and clarity are key to a successful real estate sale.


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