Question: My wife and I are looking at resale properties and we are thoroughly confused about the terms "fixtures" and "chattels".
Answer: If you are buying or selling a home, it is important that you understand the difference between the real estate definitions of a "Fixture" and a "Chattel".
A fixture is defined as an item that is permanently attached and forms part of the house and its property. It generally includes all of the buildings, and anything that you cannot just pick-up and pack in a box without the use of a tool to remove or disconnect it.
A chattel is something that can be moved without the need of tools to disconnect it or remove it from the house.
However, there are some grey areas when discussing fixtures and chattels in a house. A kitchen range or a clothes dryer may be physically attached to the house by connection to gas, electricity or duct, but it is generally considered a chattel and if it is included as part of the items being sold or purchased it should be identified separately so that there is no confusion. Cloth drapes are generally considered to be chattels, whereas window blinds are generally considered to be fixtures. Door knockers and mailboxes are generally considered to be fixtures.
If you are in the least doubt about whether or not an item is included in the purchase of the property, make sure it is specifically specified as such on your “offer to purchase”. Doing so will eliminate a lot of arguments and frustration on closing!
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