Lately I’ve had several sellers asking me if it’s possible to sell not only the house, but everything in it. Situations like these occur for many different reasons; in one case it may be a divorcing couple that would rather sell it all than go through the pain of sorting out what’s mine, what’s yours, what we borrowed from the neighbor that we never returned. In other cases, the home may have belonged to a parent who’s passed on and it’s just easier to sell the home with its contents. Whatever the set of circumstances that leads someone to make the choice to sell it all at once, it can work out very well for seller AND purchaser, but must be handled properly in order to keep the transaction clean and avoid problems at or beyond closing. Here are some guidelines for getting your home ready to sell with some personal contents included in the sale:
1. Carefully go through the home and remove any and all items that you do not want to part with. You’ll want to keep it simple by leaving only those things that you are willing to negotiate on and never see again. Gramma Minnie’s antique fireplace bellow, while worth very little to someone else, may be priceless to you! There are things you won’t want to haggle over.
2. Personal items should always be negotiated on a separate bill of sale and not be included in the purchase contract. There are several reasons for this, the primary one being that if your home is being purchased with a loan, as approximately 90 percent of homes are, the lender will not be interested in financing the patio furniture, bed frames or rocking chairs. Additionally, the purchase contract should be as straightforward as possible and not made confusing by back and forth negotiations on the monetary value of an area rug. Occasionally one or two personal items may be included in the contract. Recently I wrote a contract to include a large mirror that was hanging on a wall and the barbecue grill on the patio but it was included at no monetary value so as not to create a problem with the lender and required no negotiation. Finally, you will be more likely to get closer to the full value of the personal items on a separate bill of sale as the buyers might be more likely to feel you should just “throw it in” for the amount of money they are paying for the home when written into the purchase contract.
3. Make sure your Realtor knows the best way to write the listing to make potential buyers aware of the availability of personal items without giving the impression that you’re willing to let them go for a song. Words are powerful in setting the tone for future negotiations.
4. Understand alternative ways of selling personal items. Your Realtor should be able to put you in touch with an estate sale company that will go into the house, value and tag each item, and take over the home for a weekend to run a 2 – 3 day sale which will be advertised to attract a large number of shoppers. They will donate unsold items to a worthy charity and of course, they will charge you either a set fee or a commission based upon the amount they are able to sell. It can be a great way to dispose of items and get some of the monetary value from them, without the emotional turmoil of watching things for which you may have cared a great deal at one time, walking out the door.