Conveyances - Fixtures Versus Personal Property

What stays and what goes? Are you wondering what's a fixture in real estate and what isn't? 

Today is all about fixtures versus personal property. Do you need to know the difference? Why should you care?

As a rule, fixtures stay with the house, and personal property does not. As a seller, you need to understand what must be left behind. As a buyer, you need to make sure you aren't loving the house because of the personal property that will leave with the seller.

So, let's get clear on the difference. A fixture is anything that is permanently attached or fixed to the house, that includes: items that are nailed, screwed, cemented, glued, or bolted to the walls and or ceilings. These are considered fixtures things like lights, ceiling fans, appliances.

Here's one that confuses a lot of people. If you have a wall mounted television, the television itself is personal property, but the brackets that are actually attached to the wall are fixtures, so they must be left in place, unless, of course, agreed to by both parties.

Another one that tends to confuse people is the washer and dryer. These are actually considered personal property, unless they are built-ins. Last time I sold my own personal home, I had a crystal chandelier that I just loved. So before I listed the house, I took it down and I put up a different one. That way there was no confusion that it did not stay, because it wasn't even there.

I highly recommend doing that for anything you don't want to convey, if that's at all possible. Part of real estate law is spelling out what is part of the house, and therefore part of the sale. There's a section right in the Virginia residential sales contract it's a whole list titled, "the items marked yes below currently are installed or offered" this is where you as the seller can spell out things that may not convey.

For instance, if you want to take the washer and dryer with you, make sure it is not listed in this section, and there shouldn't be any problem. Certain things must stay, for example the kitchen stove, the garage door and remote, the window treatments that are affixed to the wall. you get the idea.

FYI- doorknobs must stay! You laugh, but I've seen it. Remember though everything is negotiable, as long as it's agreed upon by both parties and it's written into the contract, personal property can stay and fixtures can be removed. It is important to know that if the buyer is getting a loan to purchase the property, the inclusion of personal property can cause confusion and problems when the loan goes to underwriting. The easiest way to deal with this situation is put the sale of personal property on a separate bill of sale. That way it isn't in the contract causing loan issues.

If there is nothing written into the contract, and no separate bill of sale, it should be assumed that all fixtures will stay and all personal property will go. It's important to be sure that you and your realtor are on the same page when you are listing your home. Go over what you think should be included, and excluded, from the sale.

If you are buying, ask questions. It's much better to be clear up front, than disappointed after the sale has closed. I hope this video has cleared up some of the confusion for you about what is a fixture and what is personal property. 

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