Things Left Behind

HouseplantsWhen a seller leaves their house for a buyer at closing, they are supposed to leave it empty and in broom clean condition. Fixtures that were agreed upon during the contract signing remain. Items like kitchen appliances, attached lighting, sometimes draperies. The buyer has a chance to do a final walk through before their closing to make sure the house is empty other than what should remain and that no damage has occurred since the contract was signed.

Some final walk throughs go better than others. In some instances, sellers hire professional cleaners once they’ve moved out to put a sparkle on the place. Sometimes they’re running out the door and don’t even do a final vacuuming. Sometimes sellers leave items behind in their basements and garages. It’s common to hear a seller say “but it was there when I bought the house” when a buyer complains about the random items left that they don’t want.

In order to try and avert walk through issues I have a discussion with my sellers ahead of time. We ask the buyers if they want the left over paint, extra doors or additional wood trim left from previous projects. Sometimes the buyers say “yes” and sometimes “no.” We react accordingly to their requests.

Sometimes my sellers aren’t around though, so I need to deal with things. I recently had a seller who lived across country and I was managing their sale. The house had been 99% cleaned out, but some items in the garage just didn’t make it into the dumpster they arranged for. The closing was in a week and I needed the garage cleaned out. So what did I do? I hauled the items to the curb the night before trash day, put up a “Free” sign and posted a post on Craigslist alerting people to the free stuff. The next day when I went to pull the trash bins back to the garage, everything had magically disappeared. No bulk trash permit needed to be purchased and the buyer would be happy for their walk through.

Sometimes sellers don’t have enough room for their belongings when they move, so they ask me if I want items. One thing my job has made me averse to is accumulating stuff. Usually I thank them for their generosity, but say no and suggest they put it on the curb (honestly, people will take anything from the curb and it will go on to lead a happy life), or post it on Craigslist for sale or for free. But one thing I am a sucker for is plants. I really like plants and I’ve had more than one seller offer me house plants because they just can’t transport them to their next destination. I generally take the plants. We have one room that’s a little overrun with orphan plants. But they’re all unique and interesting and I’ve learned how to take care of all different types, even though I may not know their names.

When you leave your house, try to clean it out the best you can. There are resources to help you get rid of items cheaply. And sometimes there are crazy real estate agents that will take your plants if they can’t make the journey.