Understanding the Difference Between Personal Property vs. Fixtures When Selling Your Home

Understanding the Difference Between Personal Property vs. Fixtures When Selling Your Home

  • Kelli Ide
  • 08/8/23

Understanding the Difference Between Personal Property vs. Fixtures When Selling Your Home in New York State

Selling a home can be an exciting yet daunting process, and as a homeowner in New York State, it's essential to understand the distinction between personal property and fixtures. While personal property refers to movable items that are not permanently attached to the property, fixtures are items that have become a part of the real estate and are usually included in the sale of the house. This blog post will delve into the differences between the two and provide insight into their implications during a real estate transaction in New York State.

Personal Property:

Personal property includes items that are easily removable and not permanently affixed to the property. Common examples of personal property in a residential context are furniture, electronics, appliances, clothing, artwork, and kitchenware. These items are generally not included in the sale of the house unless specified otherwise in the purchase agreement.

It's essential to note that some personal property can be confusing when it comes to determining its status during a home sale. For instance, wall-mounted flat-screen TVs or light fixtures might raise questions about whether they are considered personal property or fixtures. In such cases, clear communication between the seller and buyer, and possibly the assistance of a real estate attorney, can help avoid any misunderstandings.


Fixtures, on the other hand, are items that are permanently attached or affixed to the property, making them part of the real estate. Examples of fixtures include built-in kitchen cabinets, chandeliers, ceiling fans, bathroom fixtures, and wall-to-wall carpeting. Since fixtures are typically seen as part of the house, they are generally included in the sale, unless otherwise specified in the purchase agreement.

Determining whether an item is a fixture or personal property can sometimes lead to disputes between buyers and sellers. As a rule of thumb, if an item is permanently attached or integral to the property's function or design, it is likely a fixture. However, each situation can be unique, and it is advisable to address fixture-related concerns during the negotiation phase of the sale to avoid potential conflicts later on.

The Importance of Clarification:

When selling your home in New York State, it is crucial to make a clear distinction between personal property and fixtures in the sales contract. Having an accurate and detailed inventory of what is included in the sale will help set the right expectations for both parties and minimize the risk of disputes or disappointments.

Sellers should take the time to walk through their home and create a comprehensive list of personal property they intend to exclude from the sale. This list can be attached as an addendum to the purchase agreement, ensuring transparency and preventing any confusion.

Tips for Sellers:

  1. Create an itemized list of personal property and fixtures.
  2. Specify in the sales contract which personal property items are not included in the sale.
  3. Be prepared to negotiate with the buyer over any gray areas or specific items of interest.
  4. Consider hiring a qualified real estate attorney to review the sales contract for accuracy and to address any legal concerns.


Understanding the difference between personal property and fixtures is vital for homeowners looking to sell their property in New York State. Accurate categorization of items and clear communication with the buyer will help facilitate a smooth and successful real estate transaction. By taking the time to address these considerations, sellers can ensure a positive selling experience and leave both parties satisfied with the outcome of the sale.

Kelli Ide is a professional real estate agent who can help you make smart decisions about buying or selling real estate. Kelli Ide offers a unique, concierge-style approach to real estate, including staging, photo styling and market preparation services exclusively for clients to give them an edge over the competition. For further information about buying or selling a home in the Finger Lakes, visit kelliide.com.

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