What is the Difference Between Real Property vs. Personal Property?

Posted on 08/24/2017 at 04:46:00 PM

Real Property vs Personal Property

What's the difference between real property and personal property? It can be more confusing than you think!

Sometimes there’s a misconception regarding the difference between personal property and real property, or real estate.

Obviously, the house is real property and the car in the garage is personal property, but it’s not always as easy as that. For example, the refrigerator generally comes with the house, but the washer and dryer may not.

For example, a buyer once asked if the very ornate bathroom mirror would stay. The listing agent said, “Um … it’s the bathroom mirror, of course it stays.” Well, moving day came and the mirror wasn’t there. If you plan on taking something with you, simply remove it and replace it with something that works just as beautifully. Clearly, you’re not going to remove the refrigerator or washer and dryer while you’re still living in the house, but what about your grandmother’s chandelier? Or those curtains that will work perfectly in your new home?

When flat screen televisions first came on the market, there was a huge discussion about whether they were real property or personal property; after all, they were generally attached to the walls and often hardwired into the internal system. We now accept that they are personal property and it’s no longer an issue, but you can see how this issue can be more confusing than it really should be.

Image from Dwell Magazine, original photo by William Abronowicz.

I am a real estate agent in the state of California. What constitutes real property may vary from state to state and you should discuss with your agent what items you plan to take with you.

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