The search for your dream home is undoubtedly the best part of the whole process. You have your wish list of features and your preferred neighborhoods all lined up, and viewing the inside of houses are a lot of fun. You may notice, as you visit houses, that some of them have certain items that really call out to you. For example, you may really love the way those climbing roses peek over the edge of the patio railing. Or maybe you are enamored of the high-end stainless steel Bosch dishwasher, which gives the kitchen just the look you are have been searching for. You may begin to wonder at some point, however, if those appealing extras are included in the price of the home. Read on for a better understanding of what is meant by home fixtures.
What is a fixture?
Anything outside of the usual architectural elements of the home can be considered a fixtures. If it cannot be easily removed, it is likely a fixture and becomes part of the real property along with the home and land. Most landscaping is considered fixtures, since bushes and trees have roots that go down deep enough to prevent casual removal.
These items may not be considered fixtures
If it can be easily removed, it may not be a fixture. One common area of confusion is window coverings. No matter how much you may love those drapes adorning the living room bay window, since they can be simply slid off the end of the rods and removed they are not fixtures. You must confirm with the real estate agent the status of items like drapes, large pieces of furniture (like a pool table) and appliances. Often, the seller will have no use for some items you notice when you view the home and will gladly leave them with the new owners. If not, you may be able to negotiate to purchase anything that does not already come with the house. If something that you consider a fixture turns up missing when you take ownership of the home, you may need to take the previous owner to small claims court to recoup the loss.
Determining what is and is not a fixture
The legal determination of fixtures can vary somewhat with each state, but generally you can use the following guidelines:
- Attachment: The method used to attach an item comes into play here. Things that are attached to the home using cement, pipes, nails, glue, screws, etc are probably considered fixtures. For example, even though the entryway chandelier can be removed, it is attached with electrical wiring to the home and is thus a fixture.
- Adaptability: Once the item has been attached and has become part of the home, it may be considered a fixture. Even if that item can technically be removed, doing so would damage other elements of the home. For example, a laminate floor can be removed but doing so would leave the floor a mess. Many home loans require that floors have adequate flooring. The same thing could be said for custom fitted appliances, closets and wall shelving.
- Agreement: Often you can learn what is considered a feature by perusing your sales contract. Even if certain fixtures are identified by name, it may contain a clause that states that all fixtures come with the home.