Buying a home can be a challenging endeavor, especially when there are heaps of unfamiliar terms to understand. One of those terms you might not be quite familiar with is ‘fixture’. We hear “what is the definition of a fixture in real estate?” a lot. We also get questions from people who might not be sure what actually comes with the house!
If you need help navigating your real estate purchase, we can help! In this post, you’ll learn the definition of a fixture in real estate, the definition of real property, and what constitutes personal property in a real estate transaction. You’ll also learn how to differentiate a fixture from personal property and gain tips on asking for what you want in the real estate sale. Because it never hurts to ask if personal items can remain in the home at the time of purchase.
What Is the Definition of a Fixture in Real Estate?
A fixture is defined as something that is affixed or attached to a property, whether permanently or semi-permanently. This can include many things, such as light fixtures, built-in cabinets, bookshelves, window treatments, and even some appliances. The definition of a fixture can fluctuate depending on local laws and regulations.
In Florida, the definition is relatively open to interpretation but legally includes only those things which are physically attached to the property. While fixtures can sometimes include personal items such as moveable furniture, artwork, and larger appliances, these items are generally considered personal property. For example, a ceiling fan would be considered a fixture under this law, but a washer and dryer would not.
What Is the Difference Between Fixtures, Personal Property, and Real Property?
Fixtures, as defined above, are those items in the home that are physically affixed to the property. In simple terms, anything that is part of the property and cannot be easily removed without changing the home’s structure is a fixture. This is where the definition can be a little tricky, so let’s use an example.
Let’s say a homeowner purchases a custom-built sink and installs it in their newly remodeled bathroom. While at the time of purchase, the sink was considered personal property, once it is installed in the bathroom and attached to the home’s structure, it is now considered a fixture. This means it is now part of the home and attached to the house at the time of sale. If you aren’t sure if something is a fixture or personal property, get that item in writing as part of the sale.
It’s worth noting that the definition of fixtures can evolve over time based on legal decisions and changes in technology. For example, Ring video doorbells were originally not considered to be fixtures. However, in November 2021, they were reclassified as fixtures since they are affixed to the home and cannot be easily removed without altering the home’s structure.
Real estate is also referred to as “real property.” Real property refers to any and all assets sitting on the land in question. The home itself, including any barns, external structures, buildings, trees, and landscaping, would all be considered real property.
Real property refers to the home itself and any fixtures within it. So, a washing machine that is attached to the property would be considered a fixture and is, therefore, real property of the home. By defining real estate and its components as real property, it is differentiated from personal property, which may include furniture and other personal items inside the home.
Personal property is anything that can be easily removed from the property without changing the home’s overall structure. Personal property can include appliances such as a washer, dryer, refrigerator, and large furniture. Stoves and washing machines are also deemed personal property if you can easily remove them.
Personal property also refers to anything inside of any of the external structures. Large items such as lawnmowers and farming equipment are considered personal property unless attached to any of the external structures. As a buyer, if you’re looking to keep any of the personal property in the home, consider asking the seller and get it in writing. It doesn’t hurt to ask if that beautiful oak armoire you have your eye on can remain part of your future home!
How to Determine Whether an Item Is a Fixture or Personal Property?
Simply put, it’s a fixture if it’s attached to the house’s structure. If it isn’t, it’s most likely personal property that will be removed at the time of sale. If you want to ensure that some personal items remain on the property at the time of purchase, ask the owners if they’d be willing to part with them as part of the sale. The sellers may prefer to take large items like the washer and dryer, but it never hurts to ask!
So, what is the definition of a fixture in real estate? A fixture is anything that is affixed to the property itself. If removing something would change or alter the home’s structure, then it is more than likely a fixture and should remain at the time of sale.
While determining what items are considered fixtures can be challenging, it doesn’t have to be. Whether you’re just starting your home search or you’ve already found your dream home, Leading Edge Title of Central Florida is here to help! We have helped countless Florida home buyers and sellers navigate the tricky home-buying process and work through the nitty-gritty details. Contact us today to get started.