Buyers want all of my decor and furnishings

October 11, 2019

I have always had a knack for interior design so when we listed our home I staged it ‘fixer upper’ style with lots of antiques I have acquired over the years. Now I am regretting that decision- We have had three different offers come in and ALL three have wanted all of my furnishings and decor to stay with the house. I let the first two walk because much of my decorations are antiques as well as family heirlooms and therefore priceless to me. The third offer which we are currently in negotiations with wants it ALL and by all I mean every single thing- decor, bedroom suits, couches, televisions, lawn mower, grill, patio furniture, everything. I guess my question is when did it become normal practice for buyers to demand personal belongings in a real estate transaction? Is this normal? Each deal has fallen through because of my reluctance to essentially give away my personal belongings and I just cannot wrap my mind around when this type of thing became normal. At this point I am beginning to think it would be best to unstage the home, any thoughts or advice are appreciated...

Comments (44)

  • maddielee

    I’d love to see photos of your listing, it must really be furnished beautifully.

    Just have the realtor tell any potential buyers that your belongings don’t convey. Or list the items that you might be interested in selling and the price you are offering.

    Good luck!

  • apple_pie_order

    It isn't normal in my area to ask for the entire house contents in an offer on a single-family home. However, for remote vacation cabins and condos, the property may be marketed as a package that includes the contents. Have you talked to your agent?

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  • calidesign

    That is ridiculous. It's more prevalent with vacation properties, but certainly not expected. Your realtor should be clear when showing the home that your furnishings are your own, personal to you, and not for sale. They must not be clear or you wouldn't have that many offers coming in that way. Have a talk with your realtor about expectations, and offer your design services (for an hourly rate) to the new owners if they like your style! The good news is that you are getting offers, so hold firm and wait for the offer that works for you.

  • PRO
    Sina Sadeddin Architectural Design

    I suggest talking to your real estate agent. Are they implying to potential buyers (or their agents) that you're open to this? Is it listed as such on the online listing? It's odd that three different buyers want all the items and are backing out because of it.

  • branson4020

    It is pretty routine to ask for appliances like washer, dryer, fridge to stay behind. But it is certainly NOT the norm to ask for all your personal property.

  • einportlandor

    Is your house located in an area comprised primarily of second homes? If so, it is very common for vacation houses to be sold fully furnished. This could be the root of the misunderstanding. If not, I agree with others that this is a problem for your realtor to solve by providing clarity up front. Good luck with your sale.

  • happy_homesteader

    We do live in a town with vacation properties on a lake but our home is in a residential neighborhood two miles from the lake. My home isn’t lake themed or the like and those lake homes are half a million or more, they are in a completely different league than my house. All of the buyers have been from out of town and basically wanted “all or nothing”. I understand most vacation properties and cabins are furnished but my home is a modest suburban home.

  • PRO

    Bet me on this: you will NOT get enough money to make up for the loss of all that is familiar to you!!!

    Unless the place you are going to has no room for something? Don't do this!!! Do not!

  • PRO

    It always turns to huge regret, UNLESS you have no need , or its generic and not the least sentimental..... or valuable .

    Youll puke when you find it on the curb a month later.... getting rained on!

    Its for their temporary convenience. Trust

    me please

  • jay06

    Your offers are most likely coming from people who want a second, furnished home in your lake town but can't afford a place on the lake. It most likely doesn't matter what your furniture looks like. They just want furniture. So, "unstaging" probably won't make a difference regarding the type of offer you get. Where do you store your staging items? If they're stored onsite like in the basement, buyers will still see them anyway. If you don't want to sell any of your items, just wait for an offer you can live with.

  • Janie

    It is not normal or expected! You need to speak to the realtors right away for somehow they are misleading potential buyers. I am retired and live half of the year in a mountain/lake 'vacation' area and the other half on the ocean which of course is a 'vacation' area too. I've seen a lot of listings. The negotiations should not ever get to the point where the deal falls through because the personal possessions are not part of the deal - it should be stated BY THE REALTOR up front. It sounds to me like they are trying to push a deal to a buyer who wants your home as a second home and/or a rental and maybe they're all hoping you'll cave and give away your prize possessions.

  • worthy

    On our last sale, the buyers from Guandong asked for all our furnishings as well at an extra cost.

    We found it flattering. And considering the irreparable damage done to most of it since by our offspring and movers, it would have been a good move.

  • PRO

    Whatever you are certain you want to keep? Get it out of there. "Flattery" lasts a week


  • functionthenlook

    I bet they are only offering a fraction of what it is worth. I have pieces that because of sentimental or it would be near impossible to replace I would not part with. I would remove the furniture you want to keep and put it in storage. If you need furniture to stage I would get used furniture from Craigslist.

  • latifolia

    Agree with Jay and Janie. Many people think vacation rental properties are the road to riches, and they want a turnkey property. They are looking in a lake town and your property is the best one within their budget.

    Our Caribbean house is on a remote island, and properties there are sold with all furnishings, kitchen stuff, linens - even boats and cars. It would cost too much to ship stuff out and replace it.

    Your only option would be to put your things in storage and decorate with stuff from Ikea.

  • PRO
    JudyG Designs

    Unless you specify in the contract that you are willing to negotiate on furnishings, it is not the norm and why 3 potential buyers thought the furnishings went with the house is confusing to me. Reread your contract with the real estate firm.

    I sold my two previous homes furnished, excluding the valuable (to me) pieces.

    None would have worked in the new houses so it gave me a chance to start again, which I love to do.

    This last move was a downsize, and, the buyers asked what I would sell. I took photos of each room and listed the items and prices. We negotiated one room at a time.

    Both of us were very satisfied with the outcome. They had some beautiful furniture, art, and decor pieces and I was substantially compensated.

    Remember, if you sell your things it is not part of the house sale. It is a separate check and you do not pay a commission to the broker.

  • chloebud

    This is very odd to me. I couldn't agree more regarding the realtor being more clear at the start with potential buyers.

  • allison0704

    Like you, our home is filled with family pieces, antiques and etchings I've collected over 38 years. I still have many of the pieces we purchased as newlyweds. We recently sold our home, but only after it was on the market for a year. No one would have thought, but that's another story. Anyway, we ended up getting two offers one weekend and the second offer wanted "all artwork and paintings." I had left all of the European etchings and lithographs, along with things I had found and framed so we would not need to repaint. There was no furniture in the house by then, but listing photos showed it. The first couple (did not ask for art) ended up getting the house due to an all cash, quick closing. But in the "best in final," the other couple asked if we could "just leave what art and paintings (we) do not want, to cover nail holes."

    We have sold three vacation/second homes fully furnished, but removed personal and sentimental things before listing.

    Don't walk, but run away from these offers. If you've gotten three, you'll get more. Like stated above, replacing your items will cost you more in the long run. Not to mention the regret.

  • mainenell

    You said some of them are antiques. Are you sure you don’t have some VERY valuable ones in there? (Although it would seem odd that 3 different buyers were able to identify them as such.)

  • raee_gw zone 5b-6a Ohio

    I was told, when we were selling my mother's condo, that it is a common expectation in some Asian countries. Sure enough, when we finally got an offer, the (Chinese) buyer asked for the furniture and artwork to be included. No antiques, but good quality and some items fairly new. We negotiated on that - some family members wanted particular items (including myself, but I let a few things go for the sake of making the sale) but overall it was a relief to not have to dispose of all the furniture - as well as to finally get the place sold after 2 years on the market.

  • jani


  • NYCish

    I don’t know about this. Its their offer on your property (is it explicitly stated that furnishing aren’t included?). It’s called a negotiation for a reason. They aren’t demanding anything. You can counter as you see fit.

    Also...there is a price for everything. So set yours. I don’t think you need to take this as some sort of a personal affront. Mark the things you are unwilling to sell and price the rest accordingly. Some people don’t want to be bothered to shop; seeing something furnished is as turnkey as it gets.

  • partim

    "No. " is a complete sentence.

  • GeorgiaPeach 1970

    Have you ever seen Funny Farm with Chevy Chase? They even wanted the dog!

  • K R

    Wow that’s so weird, but flattering I guess!

  • roccouple

    I’d take anything of value out. Replace with rented furniture or thrift store pieces. I think this is creepy frankly. But if it’s happened 3 times it’ll probably happen 4 times then 5 unless something changes

  • suezbell

    Just guessing here but you may well have a few pieces that are worth a whole lot more than you realize and someone was trying to acquire those to sell to pay for a chuck of the asking price of the home. Suggest you get an appraisal from an antique pro if only for insurance purposes. Maybe contact someone from antique road show.

    Do take those things you value most out of the home. Leave only as much as you are willing to part with. Know how much it will cost you to replace the items you are leaving in the home and add that to the asking price as well. Then raise the price of the home with a separate price -- even higher -- if sold furnished.

  • Lars

    When we bought our vacation house in Cathedral City, the seller demanded that she be allowed to leave everything behind, whether we wanted it or not, and so we had the task of getting rid of her decorations, many of which were major dust collectors. We are still in the process of getting rid of her decor.

  • Linda

    Are you in a vacation home area? This has happened to me once before too, but we were selling a vacation home and the people simply wanted it as is because it fit the house perfectly and people buying second homes dont have a second set of furniture to fill it. I've been a realtor for many years, occasionally, buyers will ask for furnishings. (I hate to negotiate furniture). Simply tell your agent to tell the buyers, the furnishings are sentimental family heirlooms and do not convey, they can decorate on their own.Are they buying your stuff or your house?

  • PRO
    Joseph Corlett, LLC

    My grandfather sold my late grandmother's antique lamp to an antique dealer. I was sick about it. Then I realized that if my cats had pulled that lamp over, they've done that trick previously, I would have been even more sick. I no longer have to cart that lamp to every home I live in for the rest of my life. What a relief. It went to someone who chose it and hopefully doesn't have cats.

    It is tremendously flattering to get such an offer. Nothing tastes as sweet as marketplace vindication. Nothing. Raise your price through the roof and enjoy that cocktail on that island in Greece please.

  • PRO

    No offense to the money motivated among us. Nothing on earth is more boring than a home with no past suggested, all brand new everything. A bit soulless and much like a home staging in its generic "quality" Think long and hard before you part with your own past.

    As a designer? There is nothing I hate more, than a totally CLEAN AND EMPTY slate. Give me a clue as to who you really are.

  • cpartist

    Furniture and furnishings should be a separate price from the sale of the house, if you want to sell the furniture and furnishings.

    If you have things like chandeliers, sconces or pendants you want to take with you, go now to HD or Lowes and buy inexpensive lights to replace what's there. We did and the buyer of our condo was very happy. Truth is she would have hated our expensive chandelier and sconces. They now hang in our new house.

  • njmomma

    Waiting for pictures........

  • PRO

    I was a licensed Realtor for 16 years. It is NOT common practice to convey personal possessions/furnishings with the property, although sometimes it is done in resort areas and the listing contract and price reflects this. Yours apparently does not, and your real estate agent is misrepresenting the terms of your contract if he/she is not openly expressing to interested buyers that these are personal items and do NOT convey with the property. By allowing potential buyers to even consider the furnishings as part of the transaction, this agent is misrepresenting your wishes and this type of activity does hamper your receiving clean and acceptable offers. You’ve had two failed offers, and now potentially a third, due to this very problem - which appears to be due to the fact that the agent wasn’t clear in explaining that personal property was NOT included in the listing price. This should not be your problem! IMHO, I would consider finding an agent who could better represent your terms of sale.

  • Helen

    I agree with the above

    Since it might be seen as a vacation property, your realtor has to be explicit in terms of letting buyers know that it does NOT come furnished. You need to have a discussion with the realtor as to why this has happened three times - the realtor might be hinting at this possibility to make the sales easier

    It is not normal for furnishings in the US to be conveyed with the property. If anything, it is the complete opposite - e.g. if a home has been very professionally done with custom items, it might be conveyed that some or all could be purchased.

    There are certain legalities in terms of what is expected to be conveyed on purchase. Anything that is attached to the walls - e.g. what is legally termed fixtures - would be part of the purchase price and if not part of the purchase, they would have to be specifically mentioned as NOT being included. This means chandeliers and sconces. As posted, if these are to be excluded, the best action is to replace them. When I sold my parents' place, there were very elaborate antique chandeliers which were taken down as "demanded" by the realtor.

  • partim

    The listing should be amended to specify your wishes.

  • acm

    boggles the mind!

  • natesg

    My antiques and heirlooms are priceless to me too. You’ll regret getting rid of any of them. Would love to see the listing photos.

  • midcenturymodernlove

    Can we see it? And HECK NO, the furnishings are not included in the price. They are your personal property. Buyer can make separate offer AFTER purchasing house on items, if he likes, but you are under no obligation.

  • Rekha A 9a Houston area

    It is common on vacation properties. But not otherwise. Amend the listing to explicitly say furnishings will not be included.

  • Denita

    I'm a Realtor. It isn't normal in my market to include furnishings with the sale at all. And, if they are included it is at sellers convenience and not worth anything. And yes, the furnishings are considered 'personality' and not real estate so a separate agreement, with inventory, is best/required.

    I just want to mention, there is a place in the MLS that specifies if the property comes furnished or not. Have your Realtor check the listing to see if the wrong field was selected. It's possible, especially if the agent used an assistant or someone else to input the listing. Check it now.

    If you are including appliances, there is even a place to list which appliances are included. There is also a place in the MLS for your Realtor to put in custom broker notes to the other agents, like: NO furnishings included to prevent these frustrating offers.

    Lastly, like partim stated above, "NO" is quite effective:)

  • wannabath

    We sell our home often and get these offers just about every time we sell. Try to explain to an uneducated buyer that yes my rug cost $5k and selling to you for $1k is a great deal. It is flattering and sometimes when you put so much work into a home you like it to stay like it is kind of like an artist you don't want it messed with.

    When a buyer sees a property the see it with its contents and this is why staging has become the new selling tool. It is easy with staging to stay current with interior design trends. This is why staged houses always look fresh.

    I look at it this way, most of the time items were purchased specifically for that home and wont work in a new place so offering them for sale can actually save you money in the end.

    Its simple make a list of what you WONT sell and pricing for the other items. You might wind up better off in the end. moving a dining set for $1k to a new home where it Doesn't work is a waste of money where you could have profited that $1k

  • PRO
    Filipe Custom Woodwork

    Agree with Judyg Designs. Have not come across that issue. Realtor is the first point of contact between seller and buyer and he needs to be specific it is UNFURNISHED before even entertaining an offer or letting them set a foot in the home. it's a waste of time for you and theirs. He should also be specific in the listing UNFURNISHED.

    I have heard of sellers either leaving some pieces or selling some, but leaving everything and expecting that then that means there is an issue with communication with the listing or realtor.

  • clt3

    We purchased a house furnished, but the furnishings were negotiated separately. They did not want to move them out of state. This did not include art work. We were, however, extremely surprised (and not in a good way) to find food in the refrigerator, boxes of sheet music, personal family pictures, boxes of vinyl records, etc. I think they got tired of packing and left their junk for us to deal with.

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