WHAT’S A FIXTURE?
Real estate purchases and sales typically involve land and buildings. Any personal property that is included in a sale or financing transaction is treated separately. However, certain items located on real estate are not land, but are still considered part of the real estate if they are “fixtures.”
The word “fixture” calls to mind common household objects such as plumbing fixtures and lighting fixtures. However, the legal term “fixture” is much broader and covers any object attached to real estate and considered a part of that real estate. Fixtures can include things like walk-in freezers, commercial air conditioning units, and even windows and doors.
Determining whether or not an item qualifies as a fixture can include factors such as:
The permanence of affixation and ease of removal;
The intention of the parties;
The reasonable expectations of a buyer of the property; and
The extent to which the presence of the item is important to the functioning of the real estate.
Identifying fixtures can be important, particularly in secured transactions, because taking a security interest in fixtures involves a different kind of UCC filing. Fixture filings require additional information not contained on a standard UCC financing statement, and fixture filings are filed in the county office in the county where the fixtures are located. If an item is not a fixture, then it is considered a piece of personal property, which requires a state level UCC filing.