Living the San Francisco Dream


FAQ #1: What is the difference between a fixture & personal property?

FAQ: What is the difference between a fixture and personal property and why is it important?

FIXTURES are considered to be items attached to the structure by more permanent means than by a plug in the wall. Unless specifically excluded from a sale, they are included in the purchase price and transfer with the property. PERSONAL PROPERTY items belong to the seller and are not included automatically in a sale. Some items clearly fit into one or the other category. Other items can be construed to be either, so it's essential for buyers and sellers to clearly communicate the disposition of those items before they enter into a purchase agreement.

Some examples of each, but by no means all:


  • fireplace inserts and attached fireplace equipment
  • built-in appliances
  • window screens, awning, shutters, coverings and hardware
  • attached floor coverings
  • in-ground landscaping

Personal Property:

  • free-standing fireplace screens, andirons and tools
  • washers, dryers, refrigerators (usually)
  • area rugs
  • potted plants

Gray areas, the disposition of which should be specifically designated in the purchase contract, include:

  • large potted plants
  • decorative mirrors
  • wall-mounted electronic equipment like flat-screen TVs, speakers, etc.
  • the free-standing 8x8 garden shed

My advice to sellers: if you don't want a FIXTURE to remain, it's best to replace it before the house goes on the market. You'll be moving it anyway, so do it now. This means the family heirloom mirror, the dining room chandelier that you treasure, the draperies you want to use in your next house. You don't want them to become a negotiating point when a buyer has decided your house is perfect just as it is.

--- Come for a visit; Stay for a lifetime!

Lottie Kendall, Realtor®


CA DRE#10215160; 650-465-4547






Comment balloon 4 commentsLottie Kendall • May 25 2012 07:16AM


Hey there Lottie, great list.  I was in a training class the other day, and we were talking about this.  Another FIXTURE that has come into the market...........wall mounts for these ginormous televisions we all have to have.  Turns out the TV is personal property, nut the wall mount is attached to the wall, and it had better stay, or you had better be really good at patch and paint! 

Posted by Jean Hanley, Specializing in Folks Who Want To Buy/Sell Homes (Coldwell Banker Kivett Teeters) over 8 years ago

Jean, you're right; those mounts are definitely fixtures. When going through a home with sellers, I address those issues up front, so they clearly know. If they insist on taking any fixtures, it's best to remove them before potential buyers ever see the home.

Posted by Lottie Kendall, Helping make your real estate dreams a reality (Compass) over 8 years ago

My broker says in regards to outside potted plants...generally if they are too big to carry away by hand...they are a fixture.  Got in some arguments over that, through the years...but it's what I tell my sellers!

Posted by Cara Marcelle Mancuso, Call a Marana neighbor, I'm THERE! LONG REALTY (Long Realty - Dove Mountain, Marana AZ) over 8 years ago

Hi Cara -- I agree with your broker. Having the 'fixture or personal property' discussion with sellers up front is super important.


Posted by Lottie Kendall, Helping make your real estate dreams a reality (Compass) over 8 years ago