Nelson Real Estate

Your Guide to Buying and Selling Homes in Nelson, BC

Nelson Real Estate

What’s the Difference Between a Fixture and a Chattel?

September 6th, 2011 · No Comments · Uncategorized

When selling a property, during the negotiation process, we often find that we are dealing with more than “just the real estate”.  Often there are inclusions contained in the contract, such as “refrigerator, stove, washer, dryer and all window coverings”.  These items are very often included in the purchase of a home.  If appliances are built-in (such as a dishwasher), then they are automatically included, but most times these things must be specified if they are included in the sale.  Appliances, unless they are built-in, are classed as chattels.

Generally, items that are classed as fixtures are automatically included in the sale.  Fixtures are items that are attached to the home in some permanent way.  Light fixtures, curtain rods and satellite TV dishes are examples of fixtures.  Sometimes, though, these are not intended to be sold with the home.  For example, if the dining room chandelier was a wedding gift from an aunt, then you might want to take it with you when you move.  Another example would be a piece of stained glass artwork that is installed in a window frame.  If that is the case, then you should advise your Realtor that these items are not included, and s/he will mark the data input form accordingly.  An even better idea is to remove the items that you wish to keep.  That way a prospective buyer won’t see them, and decide to ask for them in the offer to purchase.

There are a few items that fall into a gray area as to whether they are chattels or fixtures.  Examples of these items are back yard storage sheds (whether they are gray or some other colour), and wall mounted television sets.  Sheds may be secured to a foundation, or they may just be sitting there because gravity is holding them down.  Televisions are not normally considered to be fixtures, even though they are attached to the wall by a secure bracket.

Sometimes buyers want to negotiate for many items that they see in a home.  This can include garden tools, furniture, artwork and nearly anything that you can imagine being in a home.  I’ve never written a “record collection” into a contract, but I have seen people request that all of the National Geographic magazines be included.

If you are  in doubt, write it down.  If it is mentioned in the offer, then there is no disagreement as to whether or not it was intended to be included.

It’s also a good practice to mention things that are specifically excluded from a contract.  Such items as “old car bodies” or “basement debris” should be detailed in the contract, so that the new buyer doesn’t inherit any unwanted items.

There have been occasions (more than one!) when my partner and I have had to clean out basements or properties where there were items left by the seller.  The seller may have thought they were doing a favour to the buyer by leaving some extra things, but if the buyer doesn’t want them, then they are just junk.

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