Fixture vs Personal Property… Whether you’re buying or selling a home you need to understand the difference!
Hey everyone, welcome back! I’m Lindsay, with the Wise Move AZ Team at Realty ONE Group. If you want to stay up to date on all things Anthem and real estate then you need to subscribe to our YouTube Channel. Pro Tip: You’re also going to want to hit that little bell icon so that you’re the first to know when our new videos are posted every single Thursday!
As your Anthem, Arizona REALTOR® I know without hesitation that there is some serious confusion about what’s considered a fixture, what’s personal property, and why it all matters. And trust me, it matters!
By the end of this post you’ll know exactly what stays with a house, what doesn’t, and what to do if there is any confusion! So, stick around.
So, let’s deal with the most important question first.
Why do we care what’s considered a fixture versus what is considered personal property?
We care because as a general rule, under the Arizona Purchase Contract fixtures convey with the home and personal property does not. This means that if you’re selling you need to leave any and all fixtures behind. As a buyer, it may mean that you need to pay close attention when you are looking at homes to ensure you are not falling in love with items of personal property. Your new home may look a lot different once the Seller has removed all of their personal items.
Now, if you’ve heard me say it once, you’ve probably heard me say it 100 times, everything in real estate is negotiable for the right price. So, of course items of personal property can be written into the contract, and fixtures can be excluded, but ONLY if mutually agreed to by the Buyer and Seller. That being said, it is important to note that if the buyer is obtaining a loan to purchase the home, the inclusion of personal property in the purchase contract may cause problems when the loan goes into underwriting. I always recommend that any negotiations regarding personal property be finalized by way of a separate Bill of Sale. It’s quick, easy, and won’t cause any issues with the loan.
If nothing special is written into the contract and there is no separate Bill of Sale then all parties must proceed with the assumption that the fixtures stay and the personal property goes.
Next, let’s talk about what is considered a fixture.
As I mentioned before, this is and continues to be a great source of confusion for buyers and sellers. But guess what? In Arizona, the standard purchase contract that your REALTOR® provides gives a very detailed list of what is considered a fixture. Yup, lucky for us, lines 39 – 67 are written specifically to make this easier.
Let me read you exactly what it says, because it’s really well written:
“For the purposes of this contract, fixtures shall mean property attached/affixed to the Premises. Seller agrees that all existing: fixtures on the premises, personal property specified herein, and means to operate fixtures and property (i.e. remote controls) shall convey in this sale”.
Then just in case that wasn’t clear enough they continue to list things that are fixtures:
- Built-in appliances
- Ceiling fans and remote controls
- Central vacuum, hose, and attachments
- Draperies and other window coverings
- Fireplace equipment (affixed)
- Floor coverings (I always think there is a reason that a rule had to be written in the first place. Can we just take a second to think about this one? I mean was some seller like, yeah, I know they bought the house and all but I’m just going to take this hardwood with me to my new place. People, the flooring stays with the house!)
- Free-standing range/oven
- Garage door openers and remote controls
- Light fixtures
- Media antennas/satellite dishes (affixed)
- Outdoor fountains and lighting
- Outdoor landscaping (e.g. shrubbery, trees, and unpotted plants).
- Shutters and awnings
- Flush-mounted speakers
- Storage sheds
- Storm windows and doors
- Stoves: gas-log, pellet, wood-burning
- Timers (affixed)
- Towel, curtain, and drapery rods
- Wall mounted TV brackets and hardware (This one can be a pressure point for some buyers and sellers. Sellers, you can take your fancy TV but if it on a wall mounted bracket, you need to leave that bracket behind for the Buyer. Buyers if you do not want this bracket, you need to write into the contract that you want the bracket removed and any damage repaired.)
- Water-misting systems
- Window and door screens, sun shades
Additionally, if owned by the Seller the following items are also included in the sale:
- Affixed alternate power systems serving the Premises (i.e. Solar)
- In-ground pool and spa/hot tub equipment and covers (including any mechanical or other cleaning systems)
- Security and/or fire systems and/or alarms
- Water purification systems
- Water softeners
Please know that this list is not exhaustive, but it is a great start. If you are unsure if a particular items is a fixture, your REALTOR® (hopefully that’s us) can help you decide. Things like large pieces of artwork and large potted plants can be in the gray area, so it is always better to address it early on.
Additionally, my best piece of advice for Sellers is: If you have a fixture that you want to take with you to your new home, like that chandelier that’s been in your family for decades or a built in piece of artwork like this one, then you really need to be removing that item and repairing any damage BEFORE listing your home for sale. This won’t leave anything open to questioning, because the item will be gone before the buyer even sees the home!
Now let’s talk about what items are considered personal property
I promise, I am not going to bore you with a long list of all the things that are considered personal property but what I do want to touch on is a couple of things that often surprise people. Some items of personal property include:
- Above-ground spa/hot tub including equipment, covers, and any mechanical or other cleaning systems. That’s right, Sellers, unless otherwise negotiated, you are expected to remove that 20 year old hot tub from your backyard…at your expense…before closing.
But, what about leased items?
Leased items can cause even more confusion, but again, the standard purchase contract in Arizona has got you covered. As a general rule, leased items shall NOT be included in the sale. The Seller is required to deliver notice to the buyer of all leased items within 3 days after contract acceptance. The Buyer can provide notice of any leased items disapproved of during the due diligence period or within 5 days after receipt of the Seller’s notice, whichever is later.
So, there you have it! I hope this video has shed some light on the difference between fixtures and personal property.
If you would like to take a look at how all of this is handled in the Residential Resale Purchase Contract, you can click here to view a sample contract. The information about fixtures and personal property can be found on lines 39-67.
See YOU, next Thursday!