Fixtures and Exclusions
Many a homebuyer has fallen in love with some special aspect of a home – an ornate light fixture, modern ceiling fan, or sleek and spacious refrigerator – only to discover that the seller intends to take it with them when they move. While a fridge might not be a dealbreaker, it can certainly be a disappointment. The good news is that such disappointments can be avoided with a solid understanding of fixtures and exclusions!
There are certain things that may or may not come with the house, depending upon their permanence as well as the seller’s attachment to them – microwaves, fridges, fans, light fixtures, and so on. Some things are obviously personal property that the seller will take with them (unless other arrangements are made), like couches and televisions, while others seem more permanently integrated into the home, like stoves and hot tubs. But what about those items that fall somewhere in between, like refrigerators and dishwashers? What is considered part of the house versus personal property?
A fixture, generally speaking, is something that is fixed or attached to the house, and considered to be a part of the home that will remain with it when the seller leaves. Items that are not built-in or attached are typically considered personal property and are more likely to be taken with the seller.
Of course, many things are negotiable – even something that wouldn’t necessarily be considered a fixture, like a decorative wall switch or even a couch, can be written into a contract to be included in the sale. Either way, whether an item is staying or going, it’s important for both the buyer and the seller to ensure that any item in question is written into the contract as either an inclusion or an exclusion, so as to avoid any potential confusion or conflict.
Excerpt from North Carolina Association of REALTORS®, Inc. Offer to Purchase Contract 2016.
2. FIXTURES AND EXCLUSIONS.
(a) Items Leased or Not Owned: Any item which is leased or not owned by Sellers, such as fuel tanks, antennas, satellite dishes and receivers, appliances, and alarm and security systems must be identified here and shall not convey:
(b) Specified Items: Unless identified in subparagraph (d) below the following items, if any, are deemed fixtures and are included in the Purchase Price free of liens: range/stove/oven, any built-in appliances, light fixtures, ceiling fans, attached floor coverings, blinds, shades, drapery rods and curtain rods, brackets and all related hardware, window and door screens, storm windows, combination doors, awnings, antennas, satellite dishes and receivers, mounting brackets for televisions and for speakers and all related hardware, burglar/fire/smoke/carbon monoxide alarms and security systems, pool, hot tub, spa and all related equipment, solar energy systems, attached fireplace screens, gas logs, fireplace inserts, electric garage door openers with controls, outdoor plants and trees (other than in movable containers), basketball goals, storage sheds, mailboxes, all bathroom wall mirrors and all attached wall and/or door mirrors, fuel tank(s) whether attached or buried and including any contents that have not been used, removed or resold to the fuel provider as of Settlement*, landscape and/or foundation lighting, invisible fencing including all related equipment, lawn irrigation systems and all related equipment, and water softener/conditioner and filter equipment.