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What stays and what goes when you sell a home?

Zillow • Aug 21, 2013 at 8:07 PM

By Monte Mohr

After you’ve sold your home, it’s important that you follow good seller’s etiquette, which means leaving your house in the proper condition when you turn over possession. Although everything in your house is negotiable, many times there are smaller items that may not have been specified when signing the contract. So if it’s not itemized in the contract, which items should stay and which go?

“Normal” expectations vary from one local market to another, and you should check with your agent about the standards in your area. But listed below are some rules of thumb when it comes to what stays in a home and what will be removed by the seller.


In many local markets it’s typical for a buyer and seller to designate who gets the fridge and the washer/dryer, but the rest of the home’s appliances such as the stove, microwave, and dishwasher are considered “fixtures” and should remain with the house. This is in large part because lenders generally will not approve financing for a home that does not have a working cooking source such as a stove.

Another item worth mentioning is the water heater; yes, there are sellers who want to take the water heater with them. This is not recommended because once again, lender guidelines will most likely require that the house have a functional water heater.

Other common items that are attached to the home which necessitate a discussion between the buyer and seller are water softening units and home security system equipment. If the seller does not specify otherwise, a buyer will expect these items to be present when they move into the home.


Items that are considered affixed to the property and should therefore remain with the home are plants, shrubs and trees. Some objects tend to cause more confusion and should be specifically negotiated between the buyer and seller. These are things like hot tubs, swing sets, gazebos, and the like. Patio furniture, grills and lawn decorations are considered personal property and should go with the seller.

Light Fixtures/Ceiling Fans/Window Treatments

Light fixtures can get somewhat complicated because there is such variation within this category. Items that are unmistakably attached to the home and would cause damage if removed should remain in the home. An example of this would be bathroom light fixtures or garage coach lights. Chandeliers, on the other hand, should be discussed between the buyer and seller to avoid any confusion as to who will keep the item. Lamps are considered personal items that go with the seller.

Ceiling fans are considered fixtures and should remain in the home unless the seller explicitly stated ahead of time that the item would not be included in the sale. If the seller specifies that a fixture will NOT remain with the property, they are responsible for removing the item without damaging the home.

Window treatments, like blinds and attached curtains, drapes and valances generally stay with a home. But once again, it’s a good idea for the buyer and seller to have a conversation. Many times sellers have had drapes custom made to match the furniture they will be taking with them. And just as often, buyers want to decorate with their own colors and personal taste. However, because window treatments are affixed to the house, it is always best to add these to your written contract. For example, an addendum can be added that specifies “drapes in master bedroom will not stay with property.” When in doubt, get in writing in the sales contract; doing so will protect both the buyer and the seller.

Monte Mohr has sold more than 2,500 homes, making him one of America’s top Realtors for the last 25 years. This experience has given him a unique perspective on the Nashville real estate market where he can be found at www.tennesseedreamhomes.com. He is also a regular contributor of real estate information to Nashville’s NBC affiliate station, WSMV Channel 4. To learn more about Monte Mohr’s experience as a real estate agent, to get free advice about your biggest real estate challenges or to request an interview, contact him at Info@TennesseeDreamHomes.com.

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