A common surprise for many Buyers when they complete their walk-through or move into their new home is what isn’t there. Buyers many find that the curtains that matched the living room perfectly are nowhere in sight and be further disappointed when the ornate chandelier that was hanging in the dining room during the showing is replaced by a standard brass one. The confusion and expectations are due to not understanding the difference between fixtures and personal property, the Seller’s failure to prepare the house properly, and/or miscommunication when the listing agreement and sales contract were prepared.
Fixtures are anything that is affixed to the property. Things like doorknobs, scones, chandeliers are all examples of fixtures. There are other items that are integral to the operation and living conditions that are also considered fixtures; such as refrigerators, stoves, sprinkler systems, and pool equipment. All of the items must stay with the home unless otherwise negotiated.
Personal property is fairly self-explanatory. It is all the possessions of the Seller such as furniture, decorations, pictures, and maintenance equipment. All of the personal items are not considered part of the sale of a home and the Seller is expected to move all of these items out upon completion of the sale.
Some Sellers have sentimental or other reasons they may want to take a fixture, such a chandelier, with them when they move. Before listing a property for sale, Sellers should advise their Realtor what they intend to take with them, remove the item(s), and replace the items before the house goes on the market. Replacing the item before listing leaves no room or misunderstanding of what is and isn’t included in the sale.
While viewing a house, a Buyer may fall in love with a dining room set or the draperies in a particular room. Buyers should ask that the items be left in the house or offer to purchase the items, the negotiation and payment for such an agreement can be included in the sales contract or handled separately. Not all Sellers are willing to part with their personal effects however and Buyers should avoid making it a sticking point of their offer.
When there is real confusion about what is or isn’t a part of the house they best advice for both sides of the deal is to ask.