If you have ever contemplated buying or selling a home, then chances are you’ve heard the terms chattels and fixtures before. But do you know what those terms really mean? Do you know how they can affect your real estate transaction? Surprisingly, many people don’t realize how significant these items can be if not handled properly right from the moment a property is listed. So let’s talk definitions and how each item can affect buyers and sellers in their real estate transactions and I’ll share a few tips to help you whether you are buying or selling in the future.
First, the definitions (provided by Merriam-Webster) are:
an item of tangible movable or immovable property except real estate and things (such as buildings) connected with real property
a : something that is fixed or attached (as to a building) as a permanent appendage or as a structural part a plumbing fixture
c : an item of movable property so incorporated into real property that it may be regarded as legally a part of it
So from this we can decipher that fixtures are considered attached (or “fixed) to the building, are so incorporated that they are considered part of the building or are not moved easily. These can include light fixtures, switch plates, appliances, drapes or more. Chattels on the other hand are considered to be the personal property & items inside of a home. Examples include furniture, rugs, paintings, or other personal effects.
If you like a fixture or chattel in a home you are making an
offer on, tell your agent. Who knows if the sellers will be taking
it or passing it on? I’ve had a few clients end up with a piece
they’ve always wanted just because we asked.
It is generally accepted that the seller will leave all fixtures but will take all chattels, but this should NEVER be assumed. If a seller decides that they do not want to leave anything behind that is their choice but it should be made clear to potential buyers what is included and what’s not. Specific details should also be written into any agreement so both parties are clear on what is part of the transaction right from the start.
There can easily be confusion surrounding chattels and fixtures especially as we find homes with more and more luxury upgrades including mounted tv’s, jacuzzi’s, bidet’s and more. Your listing agent should discuss all items in your home at the beginning of the listing process. If you have a large number of exclusions or inclusions your agent can write a schedule outlining specifics to make things easier for prospective buyers.
If you are buying, you should never assume anything is included in your transaction. Each home will be different and while great agents will include the specifics into their listing details many will not. So, don’t assume or rely on printed materials, ask your agent for more details and write into your offer anything you’d like included.
Remove fixtures or chattels you want to take with you
before listing, whenever possible. This will save you a
whole bunch of headaches and confusion down the road.
If it’s impossible to remove, make sure that you discuss this
item in detail with your listing agent so everyone is clear your
fancy car collection in the garage is yours and only yours! (haha)
It is not uncommon for buyers & sellers (and their agents) to end up in front of the Real Estate Council of Ontario because there was miscommunication or misrepresentation about what was included or excluded in a specific real estate transaction. It can cost time, money & energy to both parties and their agents, so it’s worth it to follow the right steps to protect yourself from the beginning.
If you have questions you need answered please send me an email right away to firstname.lastname@example.org or give me a call at 416.922.5533. I’m always here to help!