Real Property vs. Personal Property

What is real property?

Real property is property that is immovable and includes the land and all permanent structures affixed to the land.

Land includes everything above and below the surface from the center of the earth and out into space. Ownership of land includes rights to the air above and the soil and minerals below. It also consists of all things growing on the land such as trees, shrubs, and grass. However, since oil, gas, and mineral rights can be severed and sold separately, the property owner may not own those rights, and it may take research to determine the owner.

Structures refer to all structures permanently affixed to the land, such as houses, separate garages, and barns. Additionally, real property is anything attached to structures such as air conditioning units or light fixtures.

What is personal property?

Personal property is everything that is movable, such as lawn mowers, automobiles, and books.

You may be asking yourself if a window unit air conditioner is real property or personal property. That depends on the intent. If the window unit is sitting in an open window, a court would most likely find it to be personal property because it was not permanently affixed to the structure. However, if a hole were cut into the wall to mount the window unit in the wall, a court would most likely find it to be real property. The determining factor will be the intention of installation.

Most light fixtures will be considered real property because they are affixed to the structure. If you have a light fixture that is a family heirloom and you want to remove it when you sell the home, make sure to talk it over with your REALTOR®. Removing a light fixture without proper notice could cause you problems down the road.

If you are looking to buy or sell a property, a REALTOR® can help you with the legal distinction between what property is real and what is personal.