What is a Fixture?

Continuing our series about the things that stay in a home upon the sale of that home, we are going to look at “What is a Fixture” in this article.  The confusion and miscommunication over what is a fixture and what is not a fixture can create havoc during a real estate transaction.

In our previous article – What Stays in the Home – we discussed the types of items that stay in a home.  A fixture simply stated is any landscaping in the ground, items mounted to the walls such as window shutters and or blinds, cabinets and built-in items like bookcases.

When I sell a home for a client, one of the first things I do is walk through the house discussing fixtures.  Personal property that is affixed or fastened to a home becomes a fixture and they are real property when attached to the property.

When I work with a seller, I ask if there are any fixed items that they plan to remove.  If they indicate they will be removing a certain item, I suggest that they replace it with something else if necessary.  This must be done BEFORE potential buyers begin to see the home.  Once I have started to market and show the home, a buyer may ask about that very fixture and if we tell them it’s not part of the sell, nine times out of ten, the buyer wants it too.

It’s often amazing what items attract potential buyers.  I have had clients who remove items from their home knowing they cannot use it at their new home.  However, they had become attached to it and decided not to leave it because they paid a lot of money when they bought the item.  I often counsel sellers about the cost of storing their items rather than allowing them to be sold with the house.  My advice on this issue is:  if it’s a fixture and you can’t take it with you when you go, then don’t.  There is no sense in paying for something to be in a box in storage because you paid a little bit of money for it.  Let the new person enjoy it as it was part of the ambiance of the home!

Here are a couple of things to keep in mind when trying to determine if your item is a fixture.

  • Method of attachment. How is the item attached?  Is it permanently affixed to the wall, or other area by nails, glue, cement, pipes, or screws?  Some items, such as smoke alarms can be removed, however because they are attached through wires, they are still a fixture.


  • When thinking of the attachment method, consider what the party was trying to accomplish when the item was installed.  If they were attempting to make it into a permanent attachment, it is a fixture.  A bookshelf is a great example of this type of fixture.  

When I write up an offer for a buyer, I always include any items they pointed out to me that they wish to keep in the home after the purchase.  This helps alleviate any confusion.  It’s always a good idea to detail these out with the agent in advance.  Some items such as washers and dryers, hot tubs, or sound systems can often be negotiated out in the contract.

If you have further questions about what is or what is not a fixture, give me a call or contact me online.  I will be happy to help you keep those items that mean a great deal to you when we get your house listed on the market.



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