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Fittings and fixtures: what buyers should ask

When buyers view a property it will in all likelihood be fully furnished and have all the current owner’s belongings still in situ. There are some features of a home that might not be left behind and are not permanent fittings or fixtures, so it is best to ask for a list of items that remain or mention items of interest before signing the Offer to Purchase, advises estate agency SAProperty.com marketing manager, Nelio Mendes.
 
The definition of a fixture, as a legal concept, is any physical property that is permanently attached (fixed) to real property. While there is no legal definition of what constitutes a fitting, however, it is generally considered that ‘fittings’ are items that are ‘freestanding’ or easily removed. 
 
A typical example of what might be deemed as a fixture in a home and part of the kitchen, is a preparation island in the middle of a kitchen but on closer inspection it might be found that it is on castor wheels and is designed to be moved. The current owner has possibly commissioned this for himself and might not leave it in the home when he vacates it as he might see it as an item of furniture and not part of the property, said Mendes. 
 
Other items that one might assume remains in the purchased home could be things such as the burglar alarm, solar heating system, air-conditioning units, Wendy house, shelving (which might not be fixed to the walls but seem so), pool equipment, or safe, to name a few.
 
If the current owner of a home chooses to remove items that seem to be part of the permanent structure, such as a fancy chandelier, for example, he needs to specify this in the purchase agreement and should replace it with a suitable light fitting. Ideally, the home should not go on show where there are items that the seller will be removing when he moves out, he said.
 
Buyers should inspect the home room by room, and any item that might be removable but they would like to remain should be included in the purchase agreement by way of a checklist.  If items are ticked off as ‘included’ or ‘excluded’ misunderstandings between the buyer and seller are avoided. The transaction will be straightforward as all the parties know exactly what they have signed for, said Mendes.


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