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Real versus Personal Property?

When it comes time to close on your Florida home purchase, the last thing you want is a dispute over what "stays"  and what "goes"  with the property. However, too frequently, what the buyer thinks stays and what the seller thinks goes, are many times not one in the same. So, the question becomes "is it real or personal property?"

Classic examples include window coverings, garage shelves and hanging light fixtures. Nearly anything a buyer may construe as being "part of the house" has the potential for misunderstanding and disagreement.

In general, real estate law says that anything that is part of, or "appurtenant"  to, the land, or "attached"  to the house and immovable, or "can't"  be removed without damage, is real property (appurtenant means permanently affixed or connected). So, that means personal property is everything else – the possessions you take with you when you move.

Another way real estate law determines whether an item is "real"  or "personal"  property is what the intent and in what manner an item is "attached."  A built-in range hood is real property but a refrigerator is not. If the seller has to remove a built in entertainment center bolted to the wall, then it's also probably real property. If you can unscrew an item without causing any damage (leaving a hole) then that's probably personal property. And, "unscrewed"  items are usually the ones ready to cause some disagreement.

The easiest way to "avoid"  a disagreement is for the seller to have a detailed list of what goes or stays. If your Grandmother left you a Tiffany chandelier that is hanging over the dining room table, then this item should be noted in the listing as being excluded and all buyers who visit the home should be provided with what "goes" and what "stays" to avoid any possible misunderstandings. Since the chandelier is permanently affixed to the ceiling, removing it may cause damage, and a buyer would expect this item to be included. Therefore, it may behoove a seller to replace that light with one they intend to leave. At the very least, the seller must disclose to the buyer it does not convey with the sale of the home. Therefore, if you're taking it with you and it requires removing a screw or a nail, "PUT IT IN"  your sales contract.

As everything in real estate is negotiable, and you may really, really want some item belonging to the seller, then just include it in your contract offer. The seller may not be able to use it at their new home and it never hurts to ask!

For more information on this real estate topic, please feel free to contact us directly. Our associates will be more than happy to assist you in answering any and all questions you may have.

And, please be sure to check out our other Florida home seller information pages. They are full of useful information for buying or selling a Southwest Florida home or condominium.

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Page Authored by Benjamin Dona of Gulf Coast Associates, Realtors

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