What is a Fixture?
Real Estate Terms and Definitions:
Quick Definition: A fixture is something that is permanently attached to a property and belongs with the property when it is sold, such as a light fixture, ceiling fan, etc.
In-Depth Explanation of Fixtures
Fixtures are items which are attached to a piece of property in real estate. They are "afffixed". Fixtures commonly transfer from seller to buyer in the purchase of real estate, but since contracts can differ, it's best to be specific when writing a sales contract.
Real estate agents may say "If it's nailed, glued, or screwed to the property, it's a fixture." This is generally true. Large objects like refrigerators and ovens may seem like obvious components to stay in a home, but it they're just plugged in and not affixed, they'll often be taken by the sellers at closing.
Buyers and sellers should never rely solely on a generic rule, but as a starting point, they should assume that anything affixed to the property with a fastener or adhesive is a fixture and will convey from seller to buyer.
How fixtures could affect your real estate transaction:
Confusion over fixtures can, and does, create many problems in real estate transactions. It is always best for home sellers to take inventory of the home with their agents before listing it for sale, and make notes of all the items that will convey to the buyer, and those that the seller will keep.
Fixtures can be kept by the seller, if the seller states it clearly in the sales contract. It's best if the seller labels these items upfront as staying with the seller, and then reminds the buyers at the time of accepting an offer. When a buyer moves into a new home and finds some of the components missing that were expected to be present, unnecessary legal disputes occur.
Some of the most common items that create disputes between buyers and sellers are window treatments and components, wall hangings, mirrors, shelves, light fixtures, and appliances. The curtain rods might be attached to wall, but the curtains themselves might be taken by the sellers. The shelves on the wall might seem decorative, so the seller may take them before the sale.
The buyer may expect that laundry appliances, microwaves, or bathroom mirrors will remain in the home. If they're affixed in some way to the home, they should, in most cases, be left by the seller. There's no need to guess and hope at the close of the sale, though. If seller and buyer do an inventory of items before signing the purchase contract around, the agents and the clients will all know which items are rightfully conveying from seller to buyer, and which aren't.
Want to know more about fixtures?
This post is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice. Buyers and sellers of real estate should not rely upon it to make decisions. Consult with a licensed real estate broker and/or real estate attorney before making real estate related decisions.
We have real estate brokers, mortgage lenders, inspectors, title officers, and others who can answer your real estate-related questions. Give us a call or send us an email and we can put you in touch with someone who can answer your fixture questions or any other questions about home buying, selling, and the real estate world.
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Sam DeBord is Managing Broker with Seattle Homes Group and Coldwell Banker Danforth. Our team serves home buyers and sellers in Seattle, on the Eastside, and across the Puget Sound Region.
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