Have you ever purchased a house only to show up on the closing day and find it looks different than when you first toured it? A pegboard on the garage wall but no pegs, missing toilet paper holders, missing doorknobs, or even missing trees from the yard.
While some items are annoying for buyers to replace, others might make buyers question the entire transaction and potentially file a lawsuit. For instance, say the buyers fell in love with the gorgeous lines of aspen trees in the front yard, only to find them missing on move-in day. What are sellers allowed to take?
If It’s Attached, It Stays
Generally, if something is attached to the property or the property has been modified to accommodate an item, that item is considered part of the property and needs to stay. Items attached to a property are called fixtures.
A fixture is anything nailed down, bolted, or mounted to a property. For example, if Person X buys a house and installs a chandelier above the dining room table by screwing it into the ceiling, that chandelier becomes a fixture. When Person X sells the property, it is assumed that the chandelier is part of the property and will stay.
If a seller wants to take a fixture with them when they sell, they must specifically indicate this in the contract. Therefore, if Person X wants to take the chandelier and move it to his new property, he and his listing broker must specify this in the contract; otherwise, the buyer can file a lawsuit.
The fixture rule has a lot of grey areas, and sellers should individually evaluate each object in question. For instance, what should a seller do with a mirror that’s hanging on the wall? If the mirror is hanging on a screw or nail, the seller can treat it like a painting, as personal property. However, if the mirror is bolted into the studs, it’s considered a fixture and must stay behind.
If It’s Nature, It Stays
Unless the property listing states that the seller intends to take certain plants with them, they are part of the sale. Again, a seller can request to take a certain plant, tree, or landscaping feature, but the buyer must agree.
If It’s Anchored to the Ground, It Stays
In addition to nature and landscaping, other points of contention between buyers and sellers are outdoor buildings and objects. The same rule that applies to indoor features applies in these scenarios too. If the object is anchored to the ground, it is considered part of the property.
Let’s use a basketball hoop to illustrate this concept. If the basketball hoop has been cemented into the ground, it is part of the property, and the seller cannot take it. However, if the basketball hoop is freestanding, it is considered personal property, and the seller can take it.
Be Explicit, and Don’t Be Petty
As a seller, specifying what you will take from a property in the contract can save you from petty debates or even the sale falling through. If there’s ever a question about whether an item is personal property or a fixture, you should put it in the contract just to be safe.
As a buyer, you must decide if the items that the seller took are really worth going after. Sometimes, sellers try to nickel-and-dime buyers by taking things in the sale, especially if the property sold for less than they hoped. A few missing pegs in the garage are much easier to replace than a backdoor shed.
Homes For Sale Western Slope Colorado
When you’re looking at homes for sale, Western Slope Colorado real estate runs the gamut. You’ll find everything from tiny in-town homes to luxury log cabins for sale in Colorado. So, your buying experience could be vastly different too.
When we list homes for sale in Cedaredge, CO, or anywhere on the Western Slope, we do our best to help you understand what stays in the house. Regardless, if you’re unsure, always consult your broker. It’s better to be safe than sorry and put a deal at risk for a light fixture or plant with sentimental value.