“The Moving Van Test”

One of the friction points in a house sale can be what does — and doesn’t — come with the home.

The general rule is that fixtures come with, personal property doesn’t.

Which begs the question:  what’s a fixture?


The standard definition is that a fixture is something that’s permanently attached to the home.

Examples include light fixtures, built-in’s, dishwashers, wall ovens, etc.

Examples of personal property include furniture, barbecues, swing sets, etc.  

By convention — at least in Minnesota — major appliances such as refrigerators and washer/dryers typically stay with the home, unless the Seller explicitly excludes them.

Grey Areas

Which leaves gray areas such as window treatments and entertainment centers.

If it’s not clear whether something is permanently attached or not, by far the best course is to use an Addendum to the Purchase Agreement to address whether it’s included in the sale.

Notwithstanding that advice, experienced Realtors routinely advise clients who want to exclude an especially valuable or sentimental item — for example, a crystal chandelier in the Dining Room — to remove it before prospective Buyers lay eyes on it  . . . and make it a condition of the sale!

P.S.:  “The moving van test”:  when your Seller calls to tell you that the movers mistakenly loaded the Family Room entertainment center onto the moving van . . . it wasn’t a fixture.  Fortunately, the Buyer planned to remove it, anyways, and didn’t insist on it being returned.

About the author

Ross Kaplan has 19+ years experience selling real estate all over the Twin Cities. He is also a 12-time consecutive "Super Real Estate Agent," as determined by Mpls. - St. Paul Magazine and Twin Cities Business Magazine. Prior to becoming a Realtor, Ross was an attorney (corporate law), CPA, and entrepreneur. He holds an economics degree from Stanford.

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