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Ask Charles Cherney - Question #38 - In residential real estate, what is a fixture?

In residential real estate, what is a fixture?

In residential real estate, what is a fixture?
The short answer is that a fixture is something
- equipment, decorations, or appliances -
affixed or attached to the real estate.

Attorney Richard Vetstein has written an excellent blog post on this topic on his Massachusetts Real Estate Law Blog.

As Vetstein notes, "From a legal standpoint, when equipment, decorations, or appliances become affixed or fastened to the real estate, it becomes a fixture and is supposed to be transferred as part of the sale, unless there is an agreement providing otherwise. "

Of course, as Vetstein goes on to note, "There are, of course, plenty of gray areas with fixtures. Wall mounted flat screen TV’s, surround sound speaker systems, and decorative mirrors are a few coming to mind. These gray areas are the cause of most disputes surrounding fixtures."

The best approach for a Seller is to have a clear conversation with their listing agent BEFORE the property is listed for sale regarding any exclusions or inclusions, so that the listing agent can disclose these in MLS when the property is listed. For example, "Dining chandelier is excluded; curtains and rods in master bedroom are included." 

The best approach for a Buyer is to write into their offer the specific items the Buyer wishes the Seller to include or exclude. For example, "all window treatments and kitchen appliances included. Extra freezer in basement to be removed by Seller by the closing date."

I help Buyers BUY and Sellers SELL in Cambridge and Somerville, MA. Here to help you. Let's talk.

Call me at 617-733-8937 or email me.

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