Fixture or Chattel? Does it Stay, or Does it Go?

As a REALTOR®, the question of Does it Stay or Does it Go comes up with every transaction. The technical terms; fixture or chattel, are how they are described. As a buyer or a seller, it is important to know what is really included in the sale. I’ve asked my law student Ghost Writer, B. Sacamano,  to help answer this question and the following is his article. B’s experience includes being a REALTOR® so the fixture chattel debate is discussed in an understandable way.

Fuzzy Dice

Have you ever bought a used car? What was included in your purchase? Were the tires included? How about the seats? Of course they were, they are after all, part of what makes it a car. The half used container of engine oil in the trunk was probably removed prior to the sale. As was the emergency road side assistance kit, and any other personal belongings not essential to the operation of the car in its capacity as a drivable car. The fuzzy dice hanging from the rear view mirror for example, the atlas in the glove box (younger readers feel free to google what that is), and the stack of cd’s under the front seat, all disappeared prior to you driving away in your new ride.

I’m hoping that this analogy will provide a bit of clarity regarding what’s included, and not included in a house sale. At the very least it should get you thinking so you can ask the right questions at the appropriate time of the sale. All too often the REALTOR® gets a frantic call after possession day regarding something that has been taken or switched out for something different. And the best way to deal with this issue is to prevent it from happening in the first place. This pre-emptive attitude will require knowledge of fixture’s and chattels.

Chattels can simply be described as personal property, and would not be included in any sale unless specified in writing. From our car analogy, this would be the half-used oil in the trunk, the atlas and the fuzzy dice. Conversely, a fixture is attached to the land (or home) in some way, and as such would by default be included in the sale. From our car analogy, this would include the tires and the seats. They are essential to what makes the car a car.

This seems simple enough, if it’s attached it stays, and if it’s not it goes, right? Not quite. Confusion arises when chattels become fixtures, either intentionally or unintentionally. You see, there is a legal principle that says whatever is attached to the soil becomes part of it. In other words, if an item of personal property is attached in some fashion to the land or the house, it will become a fixture and henceforth transfer ownership with the land.

This is of course the difficulty in answering the fixture or chattel question. The seller may have never intended an item of personal property to become a fixture in the first place, whereas the buyer may have assumed the item is included as it appears to be a fixture.  Unfortunately the courts have decided the issue both ways; they have on one hand said that the physical attachment of a chattel is enough to indicate that chattel is actually a fixture, [1] and they have also conversely said physical attachment is not enough.[2] Essentially it comes down to the particular set of circumstances.

So what’s the simple solution here? Basically, if you want the container of oil, or the fuzzy dice, make sure to ask for them. Don’t assume they are included in the deal just because they were in the car when you looked at it. And likewise, if you’re going to put the original wheels back on the car before possession, make sure to stipulate that at the outset. When in doubt, you have to write it out.

[1] Holland v Hodgson (1872) LR 7 CP 328

[2] Monical –v- 0793545 BC Limited, 2013 BCSE 25

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When Should I Sell My Home?

Knowing the answer to  “when should I sell” is possibly something you might want to know. Especially after the torrid marketplace we had this spring. With house values increasing 37% in the last year could now be the time?

If you are asking yourself this question you should consider the following:

  • Does our current home meet all of our needs?

    • This will vary depending on what stage of life you are at. Maybe your family has grown and you need more room. Perhaps your family is smaller and it is time to downsize.
  • Could we improve on our current equity position?

    • Generally speaking, if your move into a bigger more expensive property, the affect of a change in value will be greater. If your current property is worth $500,000 and property values increase on average 3% per year, in 5 years its value could be $579,637.04. Moving up to a property with a value of 750,000 you might expect an increase of $119,455.56. $39,818.52 more than by staying where you are. Of course you should always factor in the cost of your move. If using this reason to move, then plan on staying in the new property for 5 years or more to capitalize on the increase. Historically Real Estate is best as a long term investment.
  • Where would we rather live?

    • Maybe you live on a busy street or have a steep driveway. Maybe there is something else about your current property that is not desirable. The best time to sell a property with unattractive features is in an active market.
  • What does our budget allow?

    • It is important to know what your budget will allow in comparison to your lifestyle. Don’t plan on becoming house poor by buying a property beyond what is comfortable. Knowing when to sell is greatly affected by knowing the answer to what your budget will allow. Timing is important to consider here as well.

In times when property values increase dramatically, people will sometimes think it is a good time to refinance and take out equity. If you are considering that as an option, I would still recommend you ask the same questions that relate to selling your property. Removing equity is essentially a similar action as deciding to sell your home. Using your home equity as a bank account might not be in your best interest for non home-improvement type expenses.

These questions are not intended to be an exhaustive list but rather a starting place for you as you consider your Real Estate options. Your situation is unique and to truly determine your course of action should include a consultation with your Real Estate Professional. If you currently don’t have one, we would like to offer our expertise. An Initial Consultation is at no cost or obligation. Please feel free to call, text or email at your convenience.

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How to Safely Sell Your Items Online

When you are planning to sell your home and move, you may decide it is a good time to downsize and sell some items of value that you have collected over the years.

Office Clutter

And then again, if you are like me, you just need to clear a bunch of stuff out. Have you ever kept something thinking it had value. Just think. When was the last time you used it? They say if the answer is over a year you should chuck it. But I might need it some day! Throw it out!

You guys ever have that discussion with yourselves?

Recently I decided to redo my home office. I could not believe the amount of crap I had been hoarding over the last 15 years. I am sure that once I took it all out of the room, there is no way it would fit back into the room. In fact, I now have the frame of what was a very good Ikea desk sitting on my back deck. I tried three times to sell it on Abbotsford Bidding Wars but no takers. So there it sits. Not for long because I am sure Sonya will soon grow tired of my ideas on how we could use it again. Throw it out Don! Ok.

Well as you can probably tell, I might not be the best guy to talk to about the stuff you want to sell or get rid of. Thats why I have added this great article on what How to Safely Sell Items Online. I hope you enjoy.

sell your stuff

How to Sell Stuff Online

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