Does the Fridge Come With the House?

We have seen numerous deals over the years hit a snag based on the misconception or miscommunication of what stays with a home and what is leaving with the seller. The answer begins with knowing the difference between real and personal property. In the broadest since, real property is ownership of real estate and the bundle of rights associated with owning the real estate. While personal property is ownership of anything which is not real estate. Most buyers and sellers intuitively know the difference between what is real and what is personal property. The issue arises when sellers begin converting personal property to real property by affixing the personal property to the real property. These items are known as “fixtures”. Fixtures, such as ceiling fans, chandeliers, toilets, etc. transfer with the property and the buyer acquires the rights to the fixtures at closing.

Issues arise when the parties have different expectations and those expectations are not communicated to the other parties. The sellers are within their rights to exclude certain fixtures from staying with the home and the buyers are within their rights to ask for personal property to stay with the home. This can all be part of the contract negotiations. The key is communications and ensuring that all parties are on the same page. A little communication can avoid big misunderstandings.