When buying a Vero Beach house, there is sometimes confusion as to what stays, and what goes. Most listing agreements will spell out things like appliances not built in, such as refrigerators, washers and dryers, and the like.
In layman's terms, a fixture is something that initially was not attached to real property, such as an air-conditioning window unit or a wet bar that was installed in a house after it was built.
Still, legal issues arise. Sellers move out and take their belongings, including those they attached to the property, and the homebuyer discovers after settlement that the seller removed them.
If it is a fixture, it stays with the property.
Is There Any Clear-Cut Definition of a Fixture When Buying a Vero Beach House?
A Nebraska court case once ruled "fixtures are in the twilight zone between things real and things personal."
Obviously, the answer isn't so clear-cut. Courts have issued conflicting opinions.
Thus, we get litigation from time to time when someone is buying a Vero Beach home and believes the seller may have taken something with them that should have stayed with the property.
According to a 1982 Washington, D.C., Court of Appeals case, "in this jurisdiction, when determining whether an article is a fixture, the court may consider three factors: (1)actual annexation, according to the nature and use of the article; (2)its adaptation to the use for which it was annexed; and (3) the intention that it should be a permanent accession to the realty."
Well that makes it about as clear as mud.
There is a lesson to be learned: Put everything in writing. If you are buying a Vero Beach house and there is an item that you want to remain there, spell this out specifically in the sales contract. For example: "the wall racks installed in the garage shall convey."
Alternatively, if you are a seller, and there are items that you want to remove, make that clear in the sales contract: "The wall racks installed in the garage DO NOT convey."
Talk with your real estate agent and attorney to make sure you fully understand local laws and rules on fixtures when buying a Vero Beach house. In the final analysis, a written document is the best protection.
For more tips on buying a Vero Beach house, check out our other articles by clicking on the Vero Beach Home Buying Tips link to your right under Vero Beach Real Estate Categories.