Bottle Openers & Grand Pianos

If fixtures were a function of size, the grand piano would stay with the home while the wall-mounted bottle opener would go.

But they’re not (a function of size).

openerRather, whether or not something’s a fixture depends on whether it’s permanently attached to the home.

Even then, Buyers’ and Sellers’ notion of what constitutes “permanently” can vary.

My test (and most Realtors’):  you need tools to remove the item.

In addition to that rather straightforward test, I’d suggest two others:  1) is substantial or costly repair needed once the item has been removed? (beyond a little spackle and paint, that is); and 2) is a permit required to remove/install the item? (true of gas-powered stoves and dryers).


Of course, simply establishing the character of an item doesn’t mean that the parties to a deal can’t contractually agree otherwise.

By convention, items such as window treatments, Kitchen appliances, and washer/dryer sets stay with the home (at least in Minnesota).

pianoPlenty of Sellers and Buyers augment that list after the Purchase Agreement has been finalized (ideally, without the Realtors’ involvement).  See, “And Repeat:  ‘Never Negotiate Furniture, Never Negotiate Furniture . . . ‘”

Most commonly added?

Items especially well-suited or custom-made for the home such as sectional furniture, entertainment centers, or an especially well-sized Kitchen or Dining Room table (and yes, bulky, hard-to-move items such as pianos).

At the other extreme, Sellers who wish to take fixtures with them — for example, a crystal chandelier in the Dining Room — are best advised to remove and replace the item prior to listing their home.

See also, “How to Tell if Something is a Fixture.”

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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