After being in residential real estate over ten years, you think you have heard or seen it all. Late this last winter I was at a party and some new first-time homeowners shared with me their recent experience at a final walk-through before closing. They met their real estate agent at the property filled with excitement for their last look before they took legal ownership and possession. The buyer thought the house looked strangely dark when they drove up. It was dark, very dark! The sellers had taken every light bulb inside and out. They reasoned since they weren’t attached that they could take them along with the rest of their personal property. While this isn’t typical, you should know the difference between personal property and a fixture.
-Personal property. Defined as items that are easily removed and not permanently attached to property. Rugs, draperies, furniture, mirrors hung as pictures, fireplace tools, draperies, patio furniture and outdoor play equipment, appliances and window air conditioners are typical personal property.
-Fixture. Personal property that has permanently been added to real estate. Built-in bookcases, closet organizers, light fixtures (but not their light bulbs!), automatic garage door openers are some examples of fixtures. Heating ,cooling, plumbing systems are fixtures too, but don’t readily fall into a gray zone.
-Bill of sale. All personal property included with the sale of a property is transferred from the seller to the buyer through a bill of sale. Make sure you deliver or receive one for all personal property conveyed at closing or escrow.
-Exclusion. Items that are fixtures that the seller wants to take at closing are exclusions. All exclusions showed be listed in a contract to purchase. List excluded items on listing sheets and call attention to excluded items during home showings with the use of signs on or near excluded items.
-Buyers should develop early on a checklist of all contractual inclusions to verify that have been left by sellers at final walk-through.
-Disclose to buyers that some items in your home are leased such as your security system or cable box.