Should it stay, or should it go?

Packing up and moving can be stressful, but getting into a tiff with the new owner over whether or not the washer and dryer were included can be the straw that breaks the proverbial camel’s back. Read on for some guidelines on what stays, and what goes.

Rule of thumb is, if it’s attached to the house, it’s part of the house. Sounds simple enough, right? Many times there are questions about what stays with a house and what goes.

Our possessions can become emotional attachments. That’s why you’ll want to have a list of what doesn’t stay with the house just so there is no confusion with a potential buyer. It’s called “exclusions” in the trade. However, not everything is black and white. Consider your exclusions carefully. Remember they are buying your home because they like the way it looks. If you have too many exclusions, it is like stripping down a car. It’s not the same car.

Exclusions can become a source of conflict between you and the buyer if you don’t disclose all the necessary information up front. An exclusion isn’t a big issue until you forget to do it. Clarity builds trust. Before we get into the options of exclusions and their possible consequences, let’s take a look at some guidelines to help you identify what is normally considered to be part of the house:

Built-ins. These are bookshelves, cabinets, and benches and – if they’re part of the home’s construction and attached to the wall. If you have a framed mirror above the sink in the powder room and want to take it, list it as an exclusions. Technically it is not an exclusion but better to be safe.

Light fixtures. Ceiling fans, light fixtures and chandeliers. Yes, even that heirloom crystal chandelier that is the centerpiece of your dining room. If you can’t part with it, that’s ok. Just be sure to list it as an exclusion. Your buyer will understand its sentimental value as long as you let them know in advance.

Alarm systems. If they’re hardwired, they are considered part of the house. If they’re wireless, they’re not just let your buyer know.

Custom features. Custom window treatments, blinds, plantation shutters, and curtains. If the curtains match your bedspread and you can’t live without them, list them as an exclusion. Buyers understand if you let them know upfront.

Electronics. As with alarm systems, if they’re hardwired, like surround sound, they stay. A flat screen TV is often attached to a wall and therefore technically part of the house but if you want to take it, list it as an exclusion. There’s going to be some gray areas, so let your buyer know if you’re taking the TVs and equipment such as satellite dishes, phone system, and stereo equipment.

Appliances. There are some traditional considerations regarding what appliances stay with the home. Built-in refrigerators/microwaves generally stay. Washers and dryers usually go with the seller, but you must make it clear if you are planning to take them. They can always be negotiated.

A good time to decide on exclusions is when you are preparing your list of features and staging your home, or even as early as when you’ve made the decision to sell. If it’s attached to the house but you intend to take it, list it on the brochure, or better yet, if possible, replace it with something else before you show the house.

Some tips and thoughts about exclusions:

  • Keep your exclusions list short. A long list of the nice things on display that you’ll be taking with you might make buyers feel like they’re getting taken, like a bait and switch car lot deal.
  • You have the option of making your exclusions negotiable. If keeping that framed mirror that was an anniversary present tips your buyer into closing the deal, letting it go may be well worthwhile.
  • You’ll probably don’t want to take your TV but if you were planning to upgrade to a larger screen anyway, use the built-in flat screen as a selling point for the house. Otherwise, list it as an exclusion to avoid that gray area.
  • When discussing an exclusion, sentimental reasons go over much better than telling the buyer, “I don’t want to buy new light fixtures.” People are usually respectful of and sympathetic to personal reasons.
  • Moving is a great time to purge, to release the past, and get new stuff, so err on the side of letting things go – as long as the buyer wants them. Try not to get too attached to anything that’s attached to the house.
  • People are interested in your home because they like the whole look of it. Maintaining that look can sometimes make or break a sale.

Do your best to leave your emotions out of it. Of course, you’re going to be attached to items in your home. You bought them, you associate them with memories, and you love them. But the ultimate goal is to sell your home. You can replace great curtains, but you can’t replace a perfectly timed offer from buyers who are eager to make a deal.

Key Takeaways

  • Draw up a list of what doesn’t stay with the house so there are no misunderstandings with a
    potential buyer.
  • If it’s attached to the house but you intend to take it, list it on the brochure.
  • Keep your exclusions list short.
  • Don’t get emotionally attached.
  • Purge and move on.
  • The ultimate goal is to sell your home. You can replace things easier than you can replace a good
    offer.
  • A lot of exclusions can make a buyer feel like you’ve baited and switched. It can sometimes
    cause them to back out of the deal.