Not sure what you’re allowed to take with you when you move? Here are some rules to keep in mind before—and after—closing the deal.

If it’s nailed down, bolted, or mounted, it probably stays behind

Ever walked through a property you were interested in purchasing, and you notice that there was a glaring hole where a storage shed use to be? The previous owner probably had sold it, even though it was supposed to stay. While most buyers and sellers probably know that “fixtures”—immovable elements of a home such as built-in furniture, fences, or, yes, a storage shed—must stay behind, there can still be some confusion.

The No. 1 gray area tends to be the mounting mechanism for big-screen TVs. Obviously, it’s attached to the home, so it’s supposed to stay with the house. But commonsense says, ‘Well, if somebody has a $3,000 TV hanging on the wall, unless they’re including [the TV] with the house, [the mounting mechanism] doesn’t stay.’”

This has really become a real battling point with buyers and sellers if it’s not specifically referenced. Generally speaking if a house has been modified for an item, it’s probably a fixture. For example if an air-conditioning unit is placed in a window, it’s arguably personal property and the buyer can take it with them, but if a hole has been cut in the wall to accommodate the unit, then it’s most likely a fixture.

With that said, you want to avoid “arguably”, “probably”, or “most likely” when it comes to selling your home, instead you need to be specific and firm. If you want it, then you need to say so upfront.

Mother Nature Stays

Unless the property listing specifically mentions that you intend to take the prized rose patch with you, then as a seller you cannot remove any landscaping.

You can’t just dig up a plant/ tree and take it with you; it’s part of the property.

Anything anchored in the ground stays

Other backyard items are also potential sources of misunderstanding between buyers and sellers.

Technically, if a basketball hoop is cemented into the ground, then it’s considered to go with the house. Freestanding ones sitting on the lawn, however, would be something buyers could take with them.

Ditto for swing sets: If it’s anchored in the ground, it stays.

Lighting Fixtures Stay

Even if you’re attached to your show-stopping dining room chandelier, don’t pack it up and leave electrical wires hanging when you leave. And if you’re thinking about swapping out that chandelier right before closing—and hoping the buyer won’t notice? Forget about it.

When you buy a property, you’re buying what you saw the day you saw the property and wrote the offer on the house, so for sellers to change something out after that date is illegal. Yes—illegal. 

You can declare your intention to remove it, but be aware that excluded items often become sticking points between buyers and sellers.

If you want to keep your stellar chandelier then you need to remove it before listing your house, and put something else there.

Curtains? Yep, window treatments stay, too

You may have spent a fortune on those custom blinds in your living room, but technically, you’re supposed to leave ‘em hanging.

Curtains are always considered personal property, because they just slide off, but rods and blinds, are considered part of the house because they’re affixed and attached.

Mirrors are another murky area, he adds, but pretty easy to figure out: If they’re hung like paintings on a wall, then they’re personal property. Bolted to the studs? They’re fixtures.

An experienced local real estate agent, like Carlos G, can be your best option to achieve a desirable outcome. San Diego agents are familiar with local market conditions and can provide guidance on pricing your home and making repairs without spending more than you need to.