Not only will we look at what sellers typically include and exclude when they sell their home in the Greater Boston area, but also how they should inform buyers about exclusions, and how they can avoid unnecessary problems.

What do people usually leave in their house when they sell?

It is pretty standard to include fixtures when you sell your home, unless you specify otherwise in MLS and/or on the show sheet.  Lighting fixtures and plumbing fixtures (sinks, faucets, toilets, etc.) are obviously on the list of fixtures as you can tell from the word “fixtures” in their description.  In addition, anything that has a permanent attachment to the physical property is a fixture:  built-ins, wall shelves, brackets for flat screen TV’s, etc.  But not paintings just hanging from a nail on the wall.

Do they usually leave appliances?

In most of the country, appliances are not typically included in a home sale.  But, in the Greater Boston area it is customary to include them: refrigerator, stove, dishwasher, garbage disposal, garbage compactor, washer, and dryer, etc.

What if I want to take a fixture when I sell?

Grandmother’s chandelier?  Light fixture you designed and made yourself?  The most prudent approach is to replace the fixture with a reasonable substitute before you go on the market.  It’s human nature to want what you are told you can’t have.  Eliminate that problem in advance by eliminating the fixture.

How are window treatments usually handled?

Blinds, shades, drapes, curtain rods fall into the grey area.  The hooks that hold them up are attached, but the items themselves are removable.  Sometimes these items are custom made to fit the windows and the seller has not further use for them, whereas the buyers need them (at least until they can order alternatives). These items should be included.  Other times, there are window treatments which were custom made to match the seller’s furniture and decorating scheme.  Buyers don’t usually fixate on these. They can be excluded in MLS and/or the listing sheet without undue concern.

Flat Screen TV’s?

Flat screen TV’s mounted to the wall are also a grey area like window treatments.  Most people have their own TVs and may very well want to attach them to your brackets…or not.  Again, you need to specify upfront whether the bracket is included and the same for the TV.  If you want to remove both, you should specify whether the resulting holes in the walls will be repaired, and whether the buyer wants the cable wire left sticking out of the wall so they don’t have to run a new wire.

Should I include the play set in the backyard?

Swings, and playground equipment can be a big plus for buyers with children of the right age.  On the other hand, it is burden for a buyer who doesn’t want them to dispose of them…much more so than the items discussed above.  In this case, it is advisable to give the buyers the choice in the listing material.  For example: “Swing set is included but, will be removed by Seller prior to closing at buyer’s request”.

I assume the buyer wants spare tiles, etc.?

There are many things that may be greatly appreciated by the buyers: matching paint, spare bathroom tiles, extra wallpaper, special cleaning fluids for non-standard appliances, spare parts for a variety of systems, etc.  But if they don’t want these good will gestures, you and your agent may find yourselves hustling to dispose of these items after the walk-through, before the closing.  And in the case of substances like paint and toxic cleaning solutions, you will have to figure out how to properly dispose of them at this inconvenient time.  The prudent approach is to explicitly ask the buyer about all these things well before closing, and to leave them or dispose of them as the buyer requests.

In Summary

We’ve walked through the ideal way to handle inclusion or exclusion of a variety of fixtures, appliances and miscellaneous items in a home sale.  The prevailing theme is to specify and clarify throughout the process in order to avoid problems.  It’s actually much easier to avoid problems relating to exclusions and inclusions in a home sale than it is to fix the problems once they arise.

Chris has advised hundreds of sellers on how to handle exclusions in a sale.  If you want to follow up with Chris, call him at 857-829-0282 or email him at Chris@Isellmass.com

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