David Saks: Fixtures : May We Keep The Chandelier ?

David Saks - Real Estate Broker - The Real Estate Mart of Tennessee, Inc. - 4040 North Watkins-Suite #4 - Memphis, Tennessee 38127 - Phone (901) 357-4663

Fixtures : May We Keep The Chandelier ?


A fixture is personal property that's been appended to a building, property or some land in such a manner that it actually becomes part of the real property.

Usually, it's considered that if an item has been included as a permanent part of a building it's considered a fixture, like plumbing.

Laws govern the distinction.

We have what we call legal test for determing whether or not an item is a fixture or personal property.

These tests may include:

1. How permanent is the thing that's attached to the property? Usually this is referred to as the method of annexation.

2. How are they using the item? Are they using it as personal property or real property? This is sometimes called adaptation to real estate.

3. Have your seller and buyer agreed as to whether or not an item is personal property or real estate in the offer to purchase? This is called the test by agreement.

What kinds of experiences have you had with the legal tests for fixtures or personal property, and can you think of any other tests for determining whether or not an item is a fixture or personal property?


David Saks

Time&Temp Memphis

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Comment balloon 9 commentsDavid Saks • April 27 2008 02:01AM


When you sit down to list a property you should ask about fixtures and anything that is attached.  You should disclose it on the listing so there are no challenges and hard feelings when contracts are drawn up or at the closing table.  Make sure when a contract comes in that the item (s) are excluded in writing.
Posted by Sara Homan, Realtor, Homes, Farms & 55+ (Coldwell Banker Ellison Realty 352-209-4044) about 12 years ago
I have had buyer's ask for things that was clearly personal property, we just try to negotiate it in the contract, the seller can either say yes or no.  It does not hurt to ask.
Posted by Lorinda Ward, Serving, Hampton Roads Virginia. Norfolk, Chesapeake, Va Beach (Keffer Realty) about 12 years ago

The best way to avoid confusion is to have the seller remove anything that has the "sentimental" value that is all too often brought up prior to listing their home.   (Grandmas light fixture can be replaced with one from Home Depot or such before a buyer sees it.)


Posted by Anonymous about 12 years ago
Yes I agree if they want to keep it then it needs to be moved prior to showings. No confusion that way and no arguments later!
Posted by Chip Jefferson (Gibbs Realty and Auction Company) about 12 years ago
Disclosure is best, Sara. Thanks.
Posted by David Saks ((retired)) about 12 years ago
Your right, Lorinda. Asking is good. Thanks.
Posted by David Saks ((retired)) about 12 years ago

Less headache, right Laura? Thanks.

Posted by David Saks ((retired)) about 12 years ago

Take anything out of the house that could be a bone of contention, and then you don't have that problem.  I've had sellers want to remove shelving and mirrors that are attached to the walls or dig up plants in the back yard. That's why it's imperative to have a "fixture" talk when you're taking the listing. Don't ever say an item is negotiable because as soon as you say that, the buyer will want it and want it for free.

Posted by Elizabeth Weintraub Sacramento Realtor Top 1%, Put 40 years of experience to work for you (RE/MAX Gold) about 12 years ago

Elizabeth, usually, if it's not bolted down the seller moves with it. There are cases where seller assisted closing is reduced by the commensurate value of the item or items the buyer is requesting. That works out equitably in some situations and can always be used to affect the bargaining position or outcome of either side. Hypothetically, or by surmise, the buyer gets the beautiful heirloom chandelier and the seller reduces the closing costs by 4000 dollars. In effect, the buyer is purchasing the item prior to closing settlement by virtue of the adjustment. Is it reflected on the GFE or the HUD-1? No, because seller assisted closing is readjusted prior to closing by the value of the items the buyer wishes to retain, and which they've agreed upon prior to closing, which now gives the buyer the splendid experience of serendipitous elation because they now own a magnificent chandelier. Can the buyer roll it over into financing? Not as a chandelier. The additional funds needed to close by the buyer are increased by 4000 dollars, and the buyer will either request, or need, an additional 4000 dollars from the lender unless they don't need the financing; but where does it say that the additional money is for a chandelier? It can't and it won't. Now we start to get into ethics, RESPA, etc...and we'll put that aside for another time. It has to be in the contract prior to closing, and 'free' might not fair well at closing. Personal property, in this case, may become a powerful bargaining tool. All kinds of weird things can happen. In the extreme, it could increase the buyers debt to income ratio if the seller's closing is rolled back in to the buyer's loan.


Posted by David Saks ((retired)) about 12 years ago

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