As anyone who has ever sold or bought a house knows, it is a complicated and often stressful process. To get through it as efficiently and easily as possible, it helps to anticipate and be ready to steer clear of potential legal disputes, particularly when the seller is living in the house when it is shown to the buyer and the purchase and sale agreement is entered into, goes to the very “heart of the matter”. What is the seller selling and the buyer buying? Specifically, what items will the seller leave for the buyer as parts of the property, and what items will the seller take away?
A fixture is any item of physical property that was previously movable but has been permanently attached to, or is otherwise particularly adapted to, a house (or the land on which the house is built) so as to have become a part of the real property.
For the most part, fixtures are easy to identify, but in some cases, it’s not so clear. In the following, we’ll briefly describe the factors that are commonly considered when determining what’s a fixture and what’s not, then list some items that are usually treated as fixtures, some that usually aren’t, and some that can go either way.
MARIA is an acronym for the five factors that are most important in identifying fixtures. It stands for Method, Adaptability, Relationship, Intention and, Agreement:
Some items are usually treated as fixtures, parts of the real property, including:
Other items are usually not treated as fixtures and are removed by sellers, including:
FInally, there are some items in a house or yard that are close calls and often give rise to disputes between a seller and a buyer, such as:
Rather than assume anything about what will stay with a house and what will not, the seller and the buyer should openly discuss and agree in writing (one way or the other) either on general categories of items, e.g., “appliances”, and/or any particular item that seller or buyer is especially interested in, e.g., “the hot tub”. This will help them avoid unexpected and unnecessary disputes.
If you are considering selling or buying a house and need legal advice or assistance related to fixtures or any other real estate law issue, you can call us at Kelly & West and arrange for a free consultation.
“Reggie Kelly is a fantastic attorney with fantastic paralegals. My wife and I have been using him and his firm since 1983 when we first purchased property in Harnett County 37 years ago. He offers excellent legal advice and guidance. He never gets in a hurry to get us out the door because of his next appointment. He always takes the time needed to check out all of the issues that might come up. Reggie Kelly is a proud American and he loves our country and he wants everyone to do well. Reggie Kelly is an even finer person than he is a fantastic attorney and we are very fortunate to also be able to call him and his wife Cheryl our friends. We give him a 10 STAR Review!”