I’ve sold my place and will be moving out of the province. I’m not taking most of my furniture with me. Can I leave it for the new owners?
It’s common to think that because we like our things, other people will too. In fact, sometimes buyers negotiate to include specific pieces in a purchase. However, this is often not the case. Despite some people’s good intention in leaving items for new owners, abandoned furniture is a frequent cause of complaints to real estate salespeople. In most real estate transactions, the expectation is that the new owner takes vacant possession of the property on closing day in broom-swept condition.
In those exceptions where the buyer and seller agree to have items included in a transaction, it should be noted in the purchase agreement. For instance, furniture built for a unique space or when a home will be demolished, it is sometimes acceptable for sellers to leave unwanted items to be disposed of as a part of the dismantling of the existing structure. Such exceptions should be negotiated and documented well in advance of the transaction closing date.
If you have items, in exceptional condition that were not included in the sale, that you think the buyer may want like: furniture, electronics, or perhaps, a lawnmower, snowblower or curtains, ask your salesperson to offer them to the buyer. If they accept, your salesperson can have the purchase agreement amended to reflect the new inclusions and their agreed upon price, or have the items documented in a separate written agreement.
If the buyer declines, it doesn’t mean that your unwanted items are destined for a landfill. There are many charity organizations that will happily take your gently used furniture and household items to distribute to others. Alternatively, you may want to consider hosting a content or estate sale to sell the items privately or reach out to a consignment store or an auctioneer to see what items may be sellable. Please remember the need for safety protocols during the pandemic should you choose to sell items privately.
If you find that you still have items remaining at the property, I recommend speaking with your salesperson, they will likely have some suggestions for having the items removed, though some may require you to pay for the items to be removed and delivered to their new home.
As was likely the case when you moved into the property, the buyer is expecting to open the door to a space that they can either move their belongings into immediately or begin any cleaning or work they have planned for the place. The closing date is already a stressful day. Lots of things need to happen from getting keys to dealing with lawyers, movers, cleaners and perhaps even some trades or inspectors. The last thing any new owner wants is to have to deal with disposing of someone else’s stuff.
The best way to avoid unwanted friction or disagreement over the condition of the property when the keys are handed over, is to take the time to review your obligations within the purchase agreement and leave the home in the condition that you and the buyer agreed to as a part of the sale.
If you have a question for Joe about the home buying or selling process, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Joseph Richer is Registrar of the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO). He is in charge of the administration and enforcement of all rules that govern real estate professionals in Ontario. You can find more tips at reco.on.ca, follow on Twitter @RECOhelps or on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/RECOhelps.