Leave It or Take It? What Stuff Stays and What Stuff Goes When You Sell Your House

By Craig Donofrio

Posted on July 12th, 2022

what stays when selling a house

Before you put your home on the market or start packing up your belongings, it’s good to have a general idea of what items sellers should leave for buyers and what should be taken to the new home.

Some stuff can be left behind as a negotiation tactic, especially if the buyer inquires about it. And if you're leaving behind the fridge and washing machines, you can use that as a selling point to bolster your purchase price.

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Not sure what stays with a house when you sell it? Read on to learn what kind of stuff you can leave behind when you sell your house.

What Definitely Stays: Built-in Items

As a general rule, when you’re selling your home, anything that’s attached or built into the house typically stays behind. For example, if your house has built-in bookshelves, you should leave those shelves for the buyer. The same is true of any fireplaces, bathroom fixtures and kitchen fixtures. The stove should be left behind for buyers.

You should also leave behind wall-to-wall carpeting and other flooring, hardware such as doorknobs and drawer pulls, light fixtures and any security systems or alarms, such as carbon monoxide monitors and smoke alarms. Items outside of the home should also be left behind if they are in the ground.

For example, unless you specifically state that you are taking these, any bushes, trees and other in-ground plants should be left with the house. Leave any extra paint behind for the new owners.

If there's something you want to take like a custom light fixture, replace it before showing your home. Even something cheap from a hardware store is better than nothing.

What Might Stay: Certain Appliances and Furnishings

You don’t have to leave behind your refrigerator or other purchased appliances, such as the microwave, washer or dryer, but a lot of sellers do.

Buyers sometimes anticipate that the appliances will stay, so if you do plan to take those items, put that in writing before closing so that you and the buyer are on the same page. There should be a line item on the purchase contract to do so.

» LEARN: Read this for more appliance advice when selling your home

Certain furnishings can also be left behind, but they don’t have to be. For example, if you have a swing set outside that your kids have outgrown and a buyer has younger kids, you can offer to sell it with the house.

It’s also possible that a buyer might fall in love with a certain item in your home that you were planning to take, such as your couch or a freestanding bookcase in the living area. In that case, you can decide to include those items in the sale of the house if they turn out to be a good negotiating tool.

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What Goes: Your Personal Belongings

Unless you negotiate a deal with a buyer, any items that belong to you and aren’t attached to or otherwise part of the house go with you when you sell.

Plan to take your furniture, art hanging on the walls, small throw rugs, hanging plants, beds, curtains, etc. with you when you move.

Exterior items, like patio umbrellas, should be taken with you. But if something is too big or bulky, you can ask the buyer's realtor if they're interested in keeping that item.

If you plan to take something that would normally be left behind, such as your prized rose bushes or a light fixture that is a family heirloom, make sure you put that in writing at the start of the selling process and tell your agent to relay that information so buyers are aware.

You don't have to replace an item unless the buyer requests it. However, it could lead to the buyer requesting more repairs to make up for the removed item, or they might like the home a little bit less.

To ensure you have a smooth home sale, have a good agent by your side. Our friends at Clever can help you find one. Clever offers a free agent-matching service that can pair you with an agent from brands like RE/MAX, Berkshire Hathaway, and Coldwell Banker. These Clever partner agents can help sell your house for $3,000 or 1% for home sales over $350,000.

Clever is free to use and can match you with several hand-picked local agents for you to choose from. If you can't find an agent you love, there's no obligation to continue.

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Posted in Moving, Preparing to Sell Your Home, Selling a House