Moving House? Some Things Should Stay

Family carries boxes during a move

Moving house is a long process—there’s a lot to do at every step, from finding a Loan Officer and real estate agent to bidding on that perfect place, signing the final papers, and setting up monthly payments.

But the most stressful part of it all can be taking stock of your stuff and deciding what to leave behind.

In the name of good homeowner citizenship, we put together this quick list of things that the new owner of your property is sure to appreciate.

What to leave behind

Anything in the REPC: You’ll need to leave any appliances or furniture covered in the Real Estate Purchase Contract. Your real estate agent can give you the specifics.

Anything screwed to the wall: Technically, if an item is affixed to the property, it’s considered real estate and not personal property. There’s a bit of wiggle room, but anything bolted down and necessary to a room’s functioning should stay. That typically includes light fixtures and bathroom mirrors, plus mounted cabinetry.

Forwarding address: In an ideal world, everyone updates their addresses  before moving day. But mistakes happen. If something is accidentally delivered to your old house after you're long gone—or an old friend drops by—the new owners will appreciate knowing where to find you.

Owner’s manuals: If you’re leaving behind any appliances or smart home systems, please leave the manuals behind for the new owner. And don't forget the guide to that outdoor sprinkler system!

Inspection & maintenance records: Almost as useful as manuals are records of how often your appliances have been maintained and repaired. The new owners will sing your praises if you make this stuff easy to find. Include a welcome note so they know what’s what and where to find everything.

Keys and access codes: You probably already have a plan to pass the front door keys to the new owner, but don’t forget about keys to back doors, sheds, and anything else that locks. The new owners will also need the garage door and alarm codes.

A garbage & recycling day schedule: Sure, the new owners can just call the city for this info, but wouldn’t it be nice to have it right there for them when they move in? A simple sticky note left on the fridge will do the trick.

Property-specific outdoor equipment: If you’ve purchased hoses and fittings specific to your property, they’re probably not worth moving to the new house. The same may be true of lawn mowers, specialized rakes and shovels, and hedge trimmers. Keep in mind that anything with gas in it is going to be pretty hazardous to move, anyway.

Leftover paint, swatches, & samples: Not only is paint unsafe to move, there’s a good chance you won’t want the exact same colors in your new place. The new owners will be very grateful for any leftovers you leave behind. And if you’ve saved those little cards that show specific paint colors and palettes, leave them near the samples for future reference.

Blinds & curtains: Unless your window treatments are heirloom-quality or super sentimental, it’s best to leave them behind. You’ll want ones that perfectly match your new place anyway, and this way the new owners won’t feel exposed while they search for new options. 

Light bulbs: Imagine what it would be like to move into a great new place, only to find yourself trapped in the dark because all the bulbs left with the previous owner? If you’ve installed fancy wireless lights, it’s fine to take those along with you. Just replace them with at least one standard bulb in each fixture as a courtesy.

House-specific décor: While no one will fault you for taking highly specific décor such as  large houseplants or that table chosen to perfectly suit a space, think hard before packing them up. If you don’t have an immediate place in mind for them at the new place, it may be best to leave them for the next owner to enjoy.

Toilet paper & hand soap: You don’t need to leave behind your entire big box haul of hand soap and toilet paper, but consider leaving at least a few days’ worth as a courtesy. The reasons why are obvious, right?

Something nice: This definitely isn’t required, but you can really help a new owner feel at home by leaving a few goodies behind. Some of our favorite new owner gifts are local maps and trail guides, a few frozen meals or a bottle of wine, or fresh flowers.

What not to leave

To be your best to the next owners, there are also quite a few things you shouldn’t leave behind. Pack, donate, or ditch all your personal possessions, and don’t leave junk in the crawl space or backyard. Excessive grime and dust are also no-no's, as is unwanted food in the fridge or freezer or anything in the garbage cans.

If you aren’t sure whether to take or leave something in particular, just remember the golden rule: leave only what you’d like left for you.

Here's hoping the previous owners of your new place do the same!

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