When you’re looking at homes to buy, there will be certain features that capture your attention most. If there's a feature or detail that really catches your eye, you probably expect it to be there once closing day rolls around and the house is yours. What some buyers don’t realize, unfortunately, is that not every fixture in a home that’s for sale will automatically come with the house. You might assume that the beautiful built-in bookcases in the home office will stay, but there’s a chance the seller is thinking the opposite. It's the same with any high-end appliances that strike your fancy. It's important that both the buyer and the seller are clear about their expectations when it comes to what goes and what stays. As a quick reference, here are some examples of items that should definitely stay with the house when the sellers leave.
Built-Ins and Major Pieces
Elements like cabinets, window seats, bookshelves, and other custom built-ins typically tend to come with the house. Generally, if it takes a contractor to remove something, or the removal would require repairs to be made, you can assume it conveys. It’s always a good idea to ask and make sure, though.
Doorknobs, drawer pulls, cabinet handles, towel bars, and other hardware fixtures should all convey with the house. For the most part, if a seller has an attachment to any hardware, they should replace it with something else before showing the home. If they don’t specifically state that any hardware won’t be included in the sale of the house, it’s safe to assume it’ll stay.
Certain Kitchen Appliances
Some appliances are not required for the sale of a home. For instance, you’re not entitled to a refrigerator or washer and dryer, but in some cases the seller will include them. Some mortgage lenders require that the seller include a stove, but it doesn’t have to be the very same stove you saw during the open house. If the seller has a special stove they’d like to take with them, they could switch it out for a cheaper, more basic one.
We’re not talking garden gnomes and path lights here, but actual landscaping. Any trees, shrubs, and flowering plants, and embedded stepping stones, for example, should stay when the sellers leave. If the sellers want to dig up a special small tree or bush and take it with them, that’s their prerogative, but they should let you know ahead of time.
Overhead Light Fixtures
Unless it’s expressly stated otherwise in the contract, any attached light fixtures or ceiling fans should convey with the house. A good agent will let their sellers know that they should go ahead and take down any fixtures they want to take with them when they move and just replace them with something else. But if you get to your pre-closing walkthrough to find that every overhead light fixture and bulb has been uninstalled, you might have a bone to pick with the seller.
Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
These are required to be left behind, and most mortgage lenders require them to be in good working order as well. This isn’t typically a point of contention, as any house the seller moves into should already have smoke detectors installed. There shouldn’t be any reason for them to take these safety features with them.
For the most part, anything that’s not physically attached to the house or required by your mortgage lender tends to go with the seller. If there’s something you really want that isn’t typically included in the sale of a home, you can try to negotiate with the seller. For instance, if the sellers are keeping their fridge, but you feel that the fridge fits perfectly in the kitchen and would like to keep it, you can always offer to include it in the purchase price of the home or work out a deal later on.