Updated: Jan 26, 2020
Wondering how to move out of your house now that it's sold? Whether you've lived there for 30 years or 3 you've surely accumulated a lot of stuff. Then you prepped your home to sell. From the first coat of paint you used to freshen up your homes trim to the stress of wrangling your way to a deal, you've been through a lot in that place. Now you've made it to the final hours of selling your home and it's time to move out! OMG!
Don’t worry, this is the easy part... but you want to do it right way. Here's how to get through the last leg of your journey without a hitch.
How to move out on time
Once the paperwork is signed at closing, the buyers will officially own the house ... and you won’t. That means, technically, if you or your stuff is still there after the closing the buyer owns your "stuff" that was left behind so let's make sure that doesn't happen.
"Most" buyers will understand if you need a bit more time and have a legitimate reason—like if you can't move your kayak until the weekend due to your work schedule. BUT, make sure to discuss these issues as soon as possible long before the day of closing. In general, you want to be completely out of your home a few hours before the buyers are scheduled to sign away at the closing table.
Decide What to Leave Behind
To make sure you’re leaving behind everything the buyer wanted—and that you agreed to—double-check the closing documents. There should be an itemized list of what comes with the house. You should discuss with your realtor the week of closing again too to make sure everyone is on the same page. And even if the buyers didn’t formally request them, it's just good form to leave certain types of things behind.
Such as? Generally speaking, you should leave behind anything that's bolted to the wall. Some homeowners want to take their fans and blinds to the next home, but generally if it's screwed in, it stays unless it was discussed early on in the transaction with the buyers and usually replaced with some other fixture.
Also, if you and the buyers agreed to transfer any services—such as alarm monitoring or pest control—be sure to set that up before you go. Leave the buyers a detailed note in the house, or ask your agent to get in touch with theirs to make sure the transfer goes smoothly.
If you do inadvertently take an item that the buyers had requested, they have the right to ask for it back—and they could potentially sue you in civil court for the cost of a replacement. So, when in doubt, feel free to check with the buyers before you grab and go.
But...DON'T Leave Anything Else Behind!
Just as important as what you leave behind is what you don't. Your buyers have a right to move into a home that's been cleared of furniture and other movable items they didn't expressly request.
You'd be surprised what I've walked into. Some folks leave all kinds of unwanted clothes, furniture, paint cans, and other items, thinking they are helping the buyers or just didn't want to be bothered.
If you truly think your buyers might love to have your old kiddie equipment or left over paint, go ahead and ask—but please don't assume they'll welcome your leftovers.
Even if you’re careful, you might forget something—at which point the buyers may contact their agent to get it back to you, but they also have the legal right to just keep or get rid of it. So double-check areas like the attic, garage, basement, storage shed, kitchen, and bathroom drawers where people commonly overlook items.
Did you Clean Up?
It's common courtesy to leave the place not only clear of your possessions but also clean. However, that doesn't mean you need to hire a 5 man cleaning crew. In most cases, a simple broom-swept home will do. That also means wiping down the countertops, cleaning out drawers, sweeping or vacuuming all the floors, and giving the bathroom and kitchen appliances a once-over so the new owners aren't grossed out when they arrive. And please clean out your fridge! EWWW!
Are you forgetting anything?
Before you close the door for the last time, run through a quick checklist. Did you eyeball every room for stray items? Have you forwarded your mail and turned off the utilities? Do you pack the well hidden boudoir photos you took for husband? (JK!)
We all get in a bit of a rush even in the best planned moves, but you technically won’t be able to get back in, so it can’t hurt to do a final run-through before you move out.
Once you’re ready, it's time to leave. You can call your agent to let her know you’re out, although it's usually a courtesy more than a necessity. If you're feeling truly gracious, and had a really nice interaction/transaction with your new buyers then feel free to leave a note, a card, or bottle of bubbly congratulating the people who've inherited your former home. Given all the fond memories you've built between those walls, wouldn't it be nice to start the home's new owners off on the right foot?
Then go straight to the bar and get yourself some Champagne, too. Make it the good stuff—you've earned it. Congrats on the sale of your home. Time for new beginnings!
If you're interested in discussing the sale of your own home, reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org. We'd be delighted to help.