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Ask Eli: What Stays When a House Sells?

This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Eli Tucker, Arlington-based Realtor and Arlington resident. Please submit your questions to him via email for response in future columns. Enjoy!

Question: What is customary to leave behind when we sell our house? Is there anything we have to leave or take?

Answer: The answer to this question varies by state/region so it’s important to understand what’s customary or required in your area. Throughout the entire DMV (D.C., Maryland, Virginia) it’s customary to leave/convey all appliances, anything fixed to the home (e.g. light and plumbing fixtures) and take electronics or anything not attached to the home (e.g. free-standing shelves).

Fortunately, the Northern Virginia sales contract has a section dedicated to what conveys, including a yes/no option for the 30+ items below:

Around here, it’s customary for the items listed above to convey if they’re present, so if you intend to take any of them with you, such a washer/dryer, you should be sure to let your Agent and potential buyers know ahead of time.

In addition to some of the obvious conveyances like landscaping, carpet and heating/cooling systems there are some not-so-obvious items that convey unless stated otherwise.

Those include light fixtures (chandeliers), attached shelving and wall mounts for electronics. The electronics (and wiring) themselves do not convey, so in practical terms — the TV comes with you but the wall-mount stays.

Other Tips/Grey Areas

You do not have to remove nails and other hardware used for hanging photos and other personal items. In fact, if you do remove them, you’ve technically changed the condition of the home and can be held responsible for patching and painting.

You are responsible for leaving the property “broom clean.” Broom clean is a bit of a grey area, but it surely means you do not have to hire a professional cleaning service or scrub the grout. Regardless of what the contract says, I always recommend sellers use an altered version of a common axiom and convey their home in the condition and cleanliness that they’d like a home to be conveyed to them.

You are also responsible for leaving the home “free and clear of trash and debris” which certainly means not leaving junk in the attic, clothes in the closet, or food in the refrigerator but it’s common (and generally appreciated) to leave behind extra matching paint, extra tiles or floor boards and other items used to for replacement or repair.

It’s generally a good idea to run these items by your buyer first, before leaving them behind, so you don’t get a call 30 minutes before   closing to haul away a bunch of stuff they don’t want.

Price and contingencies generally command all of the attention in contract negotiations, but ensuring you’ve accurately documented what conveys also deserves your attention to avoid a major disagreement in the last hour.

If you have any other questions about what’s customary when selling a home in Northern Virginia or the great D.C. Metro area, feel free to email me at [email protected].

If you’d like a question answered in my weekly column or to set-up an in-person meeting to discuss local real estate, please send an email to [email protected]. To read any of my older posts, visit the blog section of my website at www.EliResidential.com. Call me directly at (703) 539-2529.

Eli Tucker is a licensed Realtor in Virginia, Washington D.C., and Maryland with Real Living At Home, 2420 Wilson Blvd #101 Arlington, VA 22201, (202) 518-8781.

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