Every residential real estate transaction has both real and personal property. It is also possible for real property to become personal property and personal property to become real.
Real property is the land and also any improvements built upon it. In most cases it is also anything that would be considered immovable or affixed to the land; this may occur naturally or by man. Here are some examples of what is commonly referred to and considered to be real property: land, houses, trees, streams, wells, window treatments, and light fixtures, to name a few.
Personal property is just about everything else that is not considered real. For example, plants may be considered either real or personal, but those that are in pots would be personal property. All belongings in the house that are not considered a fixture are also personal and are most often not included in the residential purchase agreement. Though, there are always exceptions to the rule and anything is negotiable. Some times negotiations will include some personal property to remain in the home at the close of escrow, such as furniture.
I advise home owners who are considering listing their home for sale that fixtures such as their prized chandelier hanging over their dinner table will be transferred in the sale, if not otherwise noted in the listing agreement or residential purchase agreement. Everything is negotiable, it is vital to become educated or hire an agent that is well versed in all aspects of residential real estate transactions. A fixture is also something that it is customized to the property in such a way that removing it would be removing a part of the real property.
It is important to note that though the law is very strict about what is personal and real, anything is negotiable. The most important thing a seller and his or her listing agent can do is when in doubt, exclude items for transfer in the applicable real estate contracts. As long as it has been agreed upon by both parties before the close of escrow, there is nothing to worry about.
This is an area of real estate that is not always clearly explained to the buyer and seller and it can add unnecessary tension between the buyer and seller as well as added stress to agents and other third parties involved. It is always advantageous to point out examples of real and personal property to buyers and sellers early in the relationship.