Close your eyes and pretend you’ve sold your home and are getting ready to move out. Imagine your living room. You see the empty space where your couch was, the blank space where the television was mounted, and the bare windows once covered by full curtains. Wait a minute, make that a nearly blank space where the tv was and the almost bare windows because unless you included it in your selling agreement, the wall mount for your television needs to stay as do any blinds and curtain rods. You can take the curtains, though! Seem strange? Welcome to the wild world of real estate fixtures!
What is a Fixture?
When you hear the word fixture, what do you think of? Most people associate things chandeliers or track lights or plumbing fixtures like faucets, sinks, toilets, but in the real estate contract world a “fixture” is typically considered an item of property which is physically attached to or so closely associated with land or buildings so as to be treated as part of the real estate.
While this varies on a state-by-state basis, this can include, without limitation, physically attached items not easily removable without damage to the premises, items specifically adapted to the premises, and items customarily treated as fixtures. This is where working with an experienced real estate agent can be really beneficial because they can help navigate what is considered a fixture and write a contract that will allow you to keep or sell what you want.
What are some examples of Fixtures?
Fixtures can be found inside and outside your home. Outdoor fixtures include, but are not limited to:
- Garden bulbs
- Shrubs and Trees
- In-ground sprinkler system and component parts
- In-ground pet containment system (but not the collars)
- Storage buildings on permanent foundations
- Docks/piers on permanent foundations
- Attached antennas and satellite dishes
Indoor Fixtures can be items such as:
- screen and storm doors and windows
- electric lighting fixtures
- window shades
- curtain and traverse rods
- blinds and shutters
- central heating and cooling units and attached equipment
- water heaters, water softeners and treatment systems
- sump pumps
- attached or fitted floor coverings
- audio/visual wall mounting brackets (but not the audio/visual equipment)
- garage door openers and remote controls
- installed security systems
- central vacuum systems and accessories
- built-in appliances (like a dishwasher)
- ceiling fans
Do I really have to leave all this behind?
The beauty of real estate transactions is that nearly everything is negotiable. If there’s something that holds special meaning for you or you want to bring into your new home (or inversely, something that you want to include in the sale or leave behind) all you need to do is write it into the contract and it’s as good as done.
What about things I rent, not own?
You MUST remember to write into the contract that you will be keeping any rented items. This might seem like a no-brainer, but it can be very easy to forget about something like an L.P. tank or water treatment system. If this is omitted from the purchase contract, you could be held liable to purchase this item from the rental company and give it to the buyer of your property since without an exception written in the contract it should be theirs. This small oversight can be one costly mistake!
One of the best ways to avoid the headaches that can come with selling a home is to enlist the help of a professional real estate agent. In addition to helping you get top dollar for the sale of your home, they can help you navigate the sometimes complex world of real estate law and make sure you’re staying on the right side of the law!