Real Property vs Personal Property

While selling or purchasing a house, a number of minor issues may arise due to miscommunication between the parties. One of these issues is determining whether property is fixed or personal when it comes to selling a property. Knowing the difference between fixed (real) property which includes land and anything attached to the land versus personal property which is property that is movable, will help to minimize any confusion during the transfer of ownership.

To reduce chances of facing such a problem while making a purchase, one must know the difference between fixed and personal property.

Real Property vs Personal Property

What is Fixed Property?

Fixed property consists of immovable items that the seller must pass on to the buyer of the property. Anything that comes under the following categories is considered fixed property:

  • Items that are permanently fixed within the structure of the house like gas pipelines and fixed shelves and counters.
  • Electronic home items or appliances that are built in like dishwashers and ceiling fans.
  • Items, which if removed, you damage the overall appearance of the house like false ceilings and wooden floors.

All these things are legally known as “fixtures” and it is considered the buyer’s legal right to get access to these.

What is Personal Property?

Personal property consists of those individual pieces of property which are the home owner’s private belongings. The owner has complete possession of these items and may choose to do with them, whatever he/she pleases. Anything that comes under the following categories is considered personal property:

  • Items which are self-supporting like lamps and aquariums.
  • Items which are not connected to the interior of the house in any way like furniture pieces.
  • Items which can be easily disconnected or detached like kitchen ovens and other electronic appliances.

All these items are solely the property of those living in the house, and the buyer of that property has no right or ownership over any of these.

Distinguish Personal Property from Real Property

The only way to avoid a disagreement or a conflict over this certain issue is to make a complete list of all the home items and decide which goes in either of the categories, with mutual consent of both the parties. When it comes to deciding which items stay in the house and which items can be taken away, once you have made the complete list, consider each item individually on the basis of these two factors:

What is Fixed Property

Attachment or Mode of Connection:

This includes taking into consideration how the item is connected or attached. If it can be easily detached, it can be considered as personal property. If it is rather difficult or impossible to disconnect, then it can be considered a fixture.


This includes considering whether the item is an essential and basic part of the home or not. Moreover, if removed, whether that would spoil the look or purpose of the property or not.

Purchase Contract Should Include Itemized List of Personal Property

The final step in dealing with this issue properly is to come up with a detailed purchase agreement, with the consent of both parties. It should involve all individual units and the category they belong to. This agreement would diminish chances of future conflict over whether an item is the property of the seller or the buyer. Determining the difference between personal property and real property is the first step in ensuring which items belong to the seller and which items belong to the buyer. Detailing this list in the purchase contract could alleviate any confusion during the purchase process.

Follow the above guidelines to pave the way for an unproblematic house sale or purchase and to satisfy both parties. For more information on real property and personal property, contact one of our real estate professionals today!


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