Friday, November 07, 2008

The Difference Between Real and Personal Property

That's the topic of Lew Sichelman's piece this week. But the real question is what's the difference between personal property and a fixture, Lew. And I think a thorough lawyer in a residential real estate transaction spends a good amount of time during his initial contract review with a client discussing fixture/personal property issues. You might say this "crap" is too small to bother with but the way I look at it is one item like a refrigerator or AC unit or something protected or gotten due to good lawyering just about pays your $500-$600 attorney's fees.

Here's my recent story involving a personal property dispute...

The issue involved a backyard play-set which I think is a pretty gray area...it's not clearly personal property that a Seller can remove nor a fixture that must stay with the home. In my case I had the Sellers and I recall asking about how it was attached to the ground and was there a concrete foundation in the ground. Well, I think in my transaction the Buyer's attorney was sort of asleep at the wheel. So during the time between contract acceptance and closing I shot a letter off to the Buyer's attorney asking if his clients wanted to buy this playground set or Sellers were going to sell it to someone else, in other words assuming this was personal property and my clients will take it if Buyer's don't buy it separately. If Buyer's lawyer had really analyzed the situation it may actually have been a fixture but I'll pat myself on the back and suggest my great lawyering got another check for $400 or so at closing to my clients.

Be on top of this stuff...it seems small but it can make you look good if you're thorough!

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