If a Purchase Agreement for a piece of property that has a building or house on it is going to be worth its weight, and some of those things can feel like they weigh a ton, then it will spend some space discussing fixtures and personal property. The question is what are they? This is an important question the answer of which you should understand whether you are buying or selling the property. Below, we have put together a brief synopsis of fixtures and personal property to help give you a little better understanding of what they are, what they are not, what is usually included, and what is usually excluded from the average Purchase Agreement.
So, what is a fixture? The easy answer is whatever is affixed to the Real Estate. So for starters, most buildings and homes are good examples of fixtures as they are usually literally attached and embedded into the ground. However, not everything that is attached to the land, building or house is necessarily a fixture. A cabinet hanging on the wall may be a fixture, while a light fixture like a chandelier may not be. The rule of thumb with fixtures is that if the thing is attached to the Real Estate (building, house, or land) so that if it were removed it would cause serious damage to the Real Estate or to the thing itself, then the thing is likely to be presumed a fixture. Nonetheless, just because a thing can be removed without causing much damage does not mean that it is not a fixture.
For this reason, you should also look at what was likely intended when the thing was placed into, or onto, the Real Estate. For example, despite the fact that a mobile home is inherently mobile, if the mobile home was placed upon the land, raised up on blocks, and then the wheels and the axels were removed and thrown away, it would appear that the once mobile home was now intended to remain in place forever. Likewise, if the builder of a house had the walls built with certain inlets to fit cabinets of a custom size and shape, those cabinets that are later bolted into place are likely to become fixtures. On the other hand, a set of world-renowned kitchen appliances that is placed within every picture of the sale brochure and shown off with glee by the realtor might not be considered a fixture according to the terms of the Purchase Agreement.
So, what is personal property then? Well, in short, personal property is all other property that is in the building or house or on the land that is not bolted down. Personal property is all that property that is not considered a fixture. Items of personal property are usually items of furniture like a couch or a bed, pictures and art, and other like articles. However, things such as appliances or chandeliers and the like can very well be considered personal property despite the fact that they can be considered permanent in place.
In Minnesota, the default rule is that if the thing is attached then it is a fixture, but if the thing is free standing it is personal property. Nonetheless, Minnesota follows the idea that if the Purchase Agreement chooses to exclude certain items as fixtures, they shall be excluded. Similarly, if the Purchase Agreement chooses to include certain items in the sale, then those items are included. The moral of the story is, make sure you read the fixtures, personal property section, and any additional addendums to your Purchase Agreement carefully if you are the buyer, and draft it carefully if you are the seller. These sections should list fixtures and personal property included, and fixtures and personal property excluded from the sale. Generally, items that are excluded are either items that commonly come with a building or home, or items that were located in the property while it was being shown to potential buyers. Remember, many of the fixtures that are listed as excluded from the sale and those items of personal property that you may like to be included in the sale can be negotiated for. The key is to take your time in analyzing the fixtures and personal property sections of the Purchase Agreement to ensure that everything is listed, or not, as it should be.
Common Terms in a Purchase Agreements