I’m selling my home and I’ve invested a lot of money and effort in my landscaping. Can I take some of my plants with me when I move?

Studies have shown that plants can improve mood, reduce stress and recharge us. So, it is understandable that people develop a deep connection to their garden, especially when they’ve invested time nurturing and perfecting it. While a seller may be very attached to the landscaping of their home, this connection can be the same for the buyer when they first see the house and can be a significant motivator for them when they make an offer to purchase.

With that, the short answer to your question is yes you can take some of your plants when you sell, but there are several considerations before you start digging up your garden. There are some grey areas when it comes to what’s included in or excluded from any home sale.

In-ground plants are generally considered part of the home and included in the sale. They are seen as a permanent part of the property, just as indoor fixtures would be considered part of the purchase agreement. Removing parts of the landscaping changes the aesthetic of a home, which might have been part of the new home buyer’s decision to buy the property.

For sellers: Before you list your home, think about the elements that are non-negotiable for you and this includes your garden. If you think you would like to take your plants and landscaping, you will want to discuss this with your real estate agent early on.

Your real estate agent can assist you in understanding and documenting all chattels and fixtures, including any plantings, that may be included or excluded from a sale agreement. It is generally not recommended to include general broad statements. Be specific. For specific chattels even beyond garden plants, you may wish to include names, model numbers, or online photos to be clear what each is. When I bought my current home, the seller wanted to take several light fixtures, so it was in the agreement.

For buyers: Upon seeing a home for sale, discuss the elements of the home that are most important to you. If the garden helps make the home for you, ask your real estate agent to get clear documentation from the sellers on what is considered part of the purchase agreement – outlining the fixtures and chattels that will be included in the sale. You can also discuss ways for you to visit your new home just before closing day. This will give you an opportunity to inspect the property/home to confirm they are in the same condition as when you made the offer. This is a common practice in real estate transactions and can be addressed during negotiations.

If you do decide to move some of your plants, you can avoid issues later if you negotiate which plants you might take with the buyer. You might want a landscaper to help successfully transplant them too.

Whether you are the seller or the buyer, making your wishes known at the beginning of the process will raise your confidence that you are getting what you want – whether that is taking a piece of your former home with you or buying a house with a garden that makes it feel like home for you.

If you have a question for Joe about the home buying or selling process, please email information@reco.on.ca.

This column is for general information purposes only and is not meant as legal or professional advice on real estate transactions.

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.

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