Indianapolis Area Real Estate Blog

You Can't Take it With You When You Go!

Defining Real vs. Personal Property

It's so tempting for a seller to take something from their home when they pack up and move. Recently, one of our buyers walked in the door of their new home to find the light which was once hanging above a pool table had been removed by the sellers. I can almost see the logic; it was a billiard's light, quite nice and definitely looked good with the pool table. Problem is, it was attached to the home and the buyer expected it to be there, not an empty spot where it once hung.

What was once personal property became real property the moment it was attached to the home. Detach it, put it back in the box and it is once again personal property. We always recommend our sellers think about things they may not want to sell with the home. Lighting fixtures of sentimental value are one such item. I prefer they be taken down and replaced before the home is listed for sale, so there is no doubt in the buyers mind what fixtures they will be buying. Just saying it is not included and will be replaced, leaves the buyer wondering what will be there.

Real Property and the Indiana Real Estate Purchase Agreement

The Indiana Residential Purchase Agreement clearly defines what will stay with the home and is considered real property. Included is the property address, the legal description and a list of items considered to be permanent improvements and fixtures. Included specifically in this list are lighting fixtures, ceiling fans, towel bars and racks, blinds, drapery rods and landscaping, among other items. It is perfectly fine for a seller to take a potted plant, but you can't remove the plants from the yard. 

Real Property vs. Personal Property

There's also a place to input additional requested items, such as washer, dryer, refrigerator or the play set out back. Alternatively, you could exclude the play set. The contract specifically states this agreement will determine what items are included and excluded. If there is no exclusion, the seller must leave all items specified as real property.

If in doubt, ask your REALTOR® and make sure it is spelled out in the purchase agreement.


#1 By Josh B - PMB at 6/15/2011 0:48 PM

As a property management company in San Diego, we deal with this issue often - as it happens often. You better believe you want to define what stays with the property and what doesn't, otherwise you will often times find questionable fixtures, appliances, etc. made their way out with the seller. When in doubt, get it in writing!!

#2 By Sharon Phillips at 6/21/2011 9:40 AM

This is so true. I try to get everything in writing with my client. I always ask them what are they taken and what are they going to leave sometime the buyer offers on some of the things in the house if they like them. You don't want any problems with your client or the buyer so please get things in writing and make sure you as the agent check it also.

#3 By Travis Vayssie at 7/18/2011 0:44 PM

I am a realtor in Orange County and have had this same issue multiple times. The problems lies with the seller not knowing what they can and cannot take. I try every time to explain this to them, but without fail they end up taking something that belongs to the home.

#4 By Hamid Grinage at 7/21/2011 1:38 PM

This is a great post! It only took one issue for me to remember to be clear in the beginning about what is/isn't included!

#5 By Fort Wayne Banks at 7/21/2011 2:19 PM

Both Sharon and Josh are right, you have to get everything in writing or else you could lose out on a great opportunity.

#6 By Homes in Corona Craig at 8/4/2011 0:47 AM

I have this problem more often with my Short Sale sellers. It's incredible that their thought process is 'I paid for those blinds... I'm taking them'. Yes... you paid for them, you probably can't use them on the house you're going to and... YOU SOLD THE HOME... You don't get to 'part it out' like a car that doesn't run. Geeeze!!

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