How to Identify Real Property versus Personal Property When Selling Home

Real Estate Agent with Keller Williams Realty

When selling your home you need to be able to identify real property versus personal property prior to putting your home on the market.  Accurately identifying the two types of property will avoid possible disputes.  A general rule in identifying real property: if the property is attached to the house then it stays with the house.  For example, window treatment and chandeliers are in most cases considered attached to the house, therefore would stay with the house when it sells.  If there are questionable items that the buyer might assume stays with the house, and seller intents on taking those items to their new home, then the seller needs put a sign on or near the item(s) stating the item(s) do not transfer with the house.  In addition, the items that are to be included with the sale of the house should be identified within the Seller’s Disclosure of the property which is made a part of the contract.    In final analysis, if you must unscrew a screw, take out a nail, detach from a wall or an exterior structure, remove from the ground, and you want to take the property to your new home, be sure it has been identified within the contact.


Re-Blogged 2 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Ginger Harper 11/26/2012 03:24 AM
  2. Joe Jackson 11/27/2012 09:03 PM
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Olga Simoncelli
Veritas Prime, LLC dba Veritas Prime Real Estate - New Fairfield, CT
CONSULTANT, Real Estate Services & Risk Management

I had one seller and her lawyer [with a straight face] argue that a heavy item that the buyer wanted removed from the basement was NOT personal property because it was already there when the home was purchased!

Nov 26, 2012 01:03 AM #6
Randy Bocook
Keller Williams Coastal Area Partners - Richmond Hill, GA
Selling Coastal Georgia

Geat Blog Post, Loved it!! Randy Bocook Richmond Hill Georgia

Nov 26, 2012 01:34 AM #7
Michelle Francis
Tim Francis Realty LLC - Atlanta, GA
Realtor, Buckhead Atlanta Homes for Sale & Lease


We are starting to get into some crazy questions here, as many TV's are now attached and I tell folks to assume they go with selller, or put it in the Purchase and Sales Agreement.

All the best, Michelle

Nov 26, 2012 01:41 AM #8
Than Maynard
Coldwell Banker Heart of Oklahoma - Purcell, OK
Broker - Licensed to List & Sell - 405-990-8862

I tell Sellers that if they want to keep it they need to take it before they put the home on the market and replace it with a similar item.

I have one couple I have sold four (4) homes for them. They take their entry light every time. Each time I list their current home I remind them to take it down, before we put the home on the market.

Nov 26, 2012 01:49 AM #9
Carla Muss-Jacobs, RETIRED
RETIRED / State License is Inactive - Portland, OR

All the seller needs to do, at least in my area, is to write in the contract the "exclusions" which are not part of the sale.  Attaching signs to items don't cut it here.  The exclusions need to be in writing, they need to be mutually agreed.

Nov 26, 2012 02:20 AM #10
Gary Frimann, CRS, GRI
Eagle Ridge Realty / Signature Homes & Estates - Gilroy, CA
REALTOR and Broker

This is a huge area of litigation.  Best to get it resolved and questions answered before the issue arises, like at the outset of the performance of the contract.  it there is any question, ASK!

Nov 26, 2012 02:26 AM #11
Tammie White, Broker
Franklin Homes Realty LLC - Franklin, TN
Franklin TN Homes for Sale

In Tennessee, kitchen appliances such as the stove, dishwasher and built-in microwave stay. The refrigerator does not. I had a buyer's agent contact me after closing once asking what happened to the refrigerator. I explained it didn't stay, nor was it listed in the MLS as staying. She tried to argue they always stay. My response...not unless you ask for it.

Nov 26, 2012 02:41 AM #12
Sandy Williams
eXp Realty, - Sarasota, FL

Short and to the point.  Avoid disputes and always put what you want to take in writing if it is considered real property.

Nov 26, 2012 02:55 AM #13
Ginger Harper
Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage - Southport, NC
Your Southport~Oak Island Agent~Brunswick County!

I am so glad that you did this post. Many times there is a gray line between is it or isn't it. You post makes it very clear to me and as you well know...anything can be negotiated if there is a problem..

Nov 26, 2012 03:25 AM #14
Jon Karlen
Finish Line Realty - Shelbyville & Louisville Ky Real Estate - Shelbyville, KY
Louisville & Shelbyville Kentucky real estate

Definitely one of the most important things to identify when buying or selling a home.  A piece of advice I always give my sellers: if you absolutely want to take it with you, go ahead and remove/replace it prior to listing so its a non-issue during the time of sale.

Nov 26, 2012 03:58 AM #15
Team Honeycutt
Allen Tate - Concord, NC

I think the best solution to this problem is to remove any items that might be questionable prior to listing the property. It will make it so much easier when an offer comes in.


Nov 26, 2012 04:18 AM #16
Eric Salonga
The Salonga Brothers at Reed Realty - Ceres, CA
Your Key to the Central Valley

Great advise and easily implemented.  I haven't had any disputes yet but I'm sure I'll be ready.  Thanks for sharing.

Nov 26, 2012 04:39 AM #17
Tricia Hoffmann
Your Home Free - Highland Village, TX

I like to take this argument (yes, argument) one step further.  The TV's are not attached to the house, the wall mounts are.  The surround sound speakers aren't attached to the ceiling, the mounts are.  the curtains are not attached to the wall, the rods are.  I've lost deals over one set of Pottery Barn curtains before.  

Agree with many others here, if you don't want it to be the source of an issue, take them down no matter how much better your house looks with them!

Nov 26, 2012 05:16 AM #18
Lloyd Binen
Certified Realty Services - Saratoga, CA
Silicon Valley Realtor since 1976; 408-373-4411

I hate pre-closing disputes about what conveys and what doesn't.  I'm always cautious to a fault.  Disputes can usually be avoided by two good real estate agents discussing gray area items prior to contract ratification.  Our CA purchase contracts have improved and now list common gray area items.  Like many above I want the seller to remove and/or replace fixtures that don't stay with the house. 

Nov 26, 2012 10:07 AM #19
Myrl Jeffcoat
GreatWest Realty - Sacramento, CA
Greater Sacramento Real Estate Agent

Good explanation, John!  "Attached or Detached" is a good way to define it.  I do remember a sale I had, which caused a stir shortly before escrow closed.  There had been an approximate 8 foot decorative windmill in the landscape, which the selller took with them.  It was not permanently achored, but the buyer was refusing to sign until it was returned.  There was a discussion about "real and personal" property, and the escrow successfully closed.  I also recall a small commissionectomy occurred to sweeten the pot:-)

Nov 26, 2012 10:58 AM #20
Christine Donovan
Donovan Blatt Realty - Costa Mesa, CA
Broker/Attorney 714-319-9751 DRE01267479 - Costa M

John - This is a good easy explanation of something that seems to confuse many people.

Nov 26, 2012 02:24 PM #21
Gary Frimann, CRS, GRI
Eagle Ridge Realty / Signature Homes & Estates - Gilroy, CA
REALTOR and Broker

Ah, the old five-prong "M.A.R.I.A." test.  I do know some agents who have had commission-ectomys due to their lack of knowledge.

Nov 27, 2012 04:52 AM #22
Gary L. Waters Broker Associate, Bucci Realty
Bucci Realty, Inc. - Melbourne, FL
Fifteen Years Experience in Brevard County

I go a step further and advise the sellers to remove anything that is not included before showing like replacing a special chandelier.

Nov 27, 2012 09:08 PM #23
Andrew Mooers | 207.532.6573
Northern Maine Real Estate-Aroostook County Broker

We deal with it everyday. Our buyers and sellers don't. Set expectations, describe the local traditions and define personal property, real property distinctions in your real estate dog and pony right up front. Unless you like drama and wasting time, seeing emotions, tempers flare after the day. Or before the closing causing a derailment of you getting a commission check slide your way with your name on it at the conference room sale finale.

Nov 27, 2012 09:17 PM #24
Frank Rubi
Frank Rubi Real Estate, LLC - Metairie, LA

John, great topic. So often this issue of real vs. personal become a challenge.

Nov 27, 2012 11:48 PM #25
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