‘We’re Keeping the Toilet Seat’: Why Sellers Are Taking Parts of Their Home To Go

by
On Jan 13, 2022
Listed in Real Estate News

By Larissa Runkle
Jan 11, 2022

f you’ve ever moved out of a home, then you know how hard it can be to leave the space you’ve grown to love. You might even have become very attached to the glass-front kitchen cabinets, that entryway built-in, or your favorite tree in the backyard over the years.

But traditionally, these are items that are firmly rooted (pun intended) in the home and stay behind for the next owner to enjoy.

Not anymore.

For some sellers, their attachment to things runs a tad deeper—as in, all the way down to the bathroom plumbing or kitchen fixtures that they insist on packing up when they leave their home.

So we asked real estate agents across the country to tell us about the weird things they’ve heard sellers taking with them on moving day. And if you’re a buyer, we also have tips on how to negotiate to keep those items firmly attached to your new home—even when dealing with an overly attached seller.

Unusual items sellers take with them

Sellers have been known to pack up all sorts of bizarre things when they leave. And that goes for items both in and outside the home.

“I was working with a real estate agent, and we came across a seller who was adamant about taking his outdoor plants with him after selling,” says Scott Rubzin, founder of Tiffany Property Investments. “I believe that this trend started during the emergence of COVID, with people forming real emotional attachments with their personal belongings.”

Jeff Johnson, real estate agent and acquisition manager of Simple Homebuyers, shared a similarly interesting story.

“I once heard about a seller who insisted on taking the rain showerheads from each of the four bathrooms of their house,” says Johnson.

It’s all about the fancy fixtures

Some sellers don’t stop at the showerheads.

“The craziest thing I heard a seller take with them was the toilet seat in the master bedroom,” says real estate expert Liz Hutz, of Cash Home Buyers North Carolina. “I believe that it happened because the seat was imported from Japan and was super high-tech, with a built-in bidet.”

And it isn’t just critical plumbing fixtures that can go missing from a newly sold home.

“Stripping interior doorknobs from doors is definitely one of the strangest things a seller once did,” says Stephen Keighery, CEO of Home Buyer Louisiana. “Their argument was that the doorknobs were supposedly customized and should be theirs to keep. And though they may have a point, doorknobs are still considered part of the fixtures that can’t be taken out of the house when selling.”

What should legally stay in a home

No matter how attached sellers may be to certain parts of their home (or bathroom), they have a legal obligation not to strip the place. And that’s especially true if the sellers are already under contract with a buyer.

So if you have your eye on a home, the best way to ensure your new home comes with all of its plumbing, doorknobs, and plantings is to have it written into the contract.

“It’s important to ask a seller what fixtures are included in the sale,” says David Reischer, an attorney and CEO of LegalAdvice.com. “Legally, anything that’s permanently attached to the property is considered a fixture and is by law generally included. However, sometimes, state laws vary as to what is—and what is not—included in the sale.”

The lowdown on semiattached fixtures

So what about a home’s semiattached fixtures or items such as a grill, wall mounts, or even light fixtures? Like many things in real estate, it’s all about confident negotiation.

Reischer recommends that buyers interested in keeping anything semiattached write this explicitly into the sale’s contract to avoid issues down the road.

“Buyers can pre-request a seller explain the items available to them once the house has been bought,” adds Rubzin. “Or they can pay extra money to retain accessories that the seller is stubborn about taking with them. Real estate agents can also step in and arrange a one-on-one meeting between the buyer and the seller, which can make it a lot easier to discuss.”

The bottom line

While it doesn’t happen every day, overly attached sellers can make you feel as if your new home’s been robbed—before you even move in. You can avoid any nasty surprises by working with a real estate agent who will advocate for your interests and include them in the contract.

That way, you won’t fall victim to any last-minute bonds your sellers might form to their fancy imported toilet seat.

Larissa Runkle divides her time between a cabin in the San Juan Mountains and traveling in a converted van with her partner and pup. She writes for finance, real estate, and lifestyle publications, and is also at work on several fiction projects.
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