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What are Fixtures in Real Estate?

Fixtures in real estate often cause disputes during real estate transactions. Items perceived as fixtures might differ greatly between buyer and seller and sometimes creates confusion and contention.  For the deal to go smoothly, it’s crucial that the buyer and seller are on the same page to avoid disappointment, frustration or unpleasant surprises.

What exactly is a fixture in context of real estate?

Any item permanently attached to the home is a fixture. This includes items such as ceiling fans, chandeliers, built-in shelves, and sometimes even plants, flowerpots and lawn decor. It’s important to realize that the seller could take the time to physically remove these items from the house, but they are considered part of the property.

Best way to deal with the issue of fixtures

The agent must always have an in-depth conversation with the seller about the topic of fixtures before listing a home. If a seller wants to keep a specific item, they need to make the agent aware. The agent marks those items as personal when listing the property and informs potential buyers those items are not included in the sale.

Tips on identifying and determining the fixtures

Fixtures are normally items that are attached to the property.  For instance, you cannot buy a house with missing doorknobs.  Items such as refrigerators and washing machines are not considered fixtures but dishwashers typically are.

Method of attachment

Here, the method of attachment (wires, screws, nails) determines if it is a fixture. While it’s possible to remove the item, the method of attachment classifies them as fixtures. Lights, wall scones, shelving units, ceiling fans, etc. fall under the fixture category by this definition.


Any item which has become an integral part of the house is a fixture. Floating laminate flooring, wall-to wall-carpeting, built-in-electronics are items which fall under this category.

Intention of the party while installing the item

Any item installed in the home with the purpose of making it a permanent part of the home is a fixture. For instance, a screwed-in mailbox or built-in bookshelves fall under this category.

Final Thoughts

Despite above guidelines, disputes surrounding fixtures are inevitable and can even land in court. Generally, the court tends to lean in favor of the buyers.  To prevent disputes, have a detailed list of items that will not be included with the sale.