Personal Property


  • Title to personal property is not generally found by searching public records
  • Personal property may be hypothecated, and most personal property is transferred with a “Bill of Sale” – must be in writing if over $500
  • Any property that is NOT Real Property is Personal Property (Chattel OR Chose)
  • Chattel Real (Lease on Property) – A chattel consisting of a right in land that is less than a freehold (as a lease or a growing crop) — distinguished from chattel personal. “Chattel” rhymes with “Cattle” Leases (Chattel Real) – Chattels real are personal property interests that concern real property. Examples of chattels real are leasehold interests, mortgages, trust deeds, shares in real estate syndicates and shares in housing cooperatives.
  • Trade Fixtures – Business equipment is personal property even though it is attached to the land. – Typically a topic of commercial real estate, a trade fixture is a piece of equipment on or attached to the real estate that is used in a trade or business. Trade fixtures differ from other fixtures in that they may be removed from the real estate (making it personal property, even if attached) at the end of the tenancy of the business, while ordinary fixtures attached to the real estate become part of the real estate. The business tenant must compensate the owner for any damages due to the removal of trade fixtures or repair such damage. It is important that you remember trade fixtures remain the tenant’s property—hence they are personal property.

    For example, a dentist is moving to a new location. Although his dentist chair is permanently affixed to the floor, it is used for his business, making the chair a trade fixture. Therefore, the dentist can remove his chair to take with him to his new location.
  • Tangibles (physical items such as cars, clothing, and jewelry)
  • Mobile Homes (unless 4 Things)
  • Intangibles (patents, leases, intellectual property)
  • Emblements (crops that are planted and harvested)
  • Business Opportunities
  • Paper (except stock in mutual water company)


  • Personal property becomes real property by attachment. Wood that is brought to build the framing for a house becomes a real property by attachment.
  • Real property becomes personal property by severance.
  • When the owner of a parcel of land cuts down a tree, it becomes personal property by the process of severance.
  • Emblements – Crops that must be planted annually, such as corn and wheat are usually personal property of the owner of the farm or of a tenant farmer who planted them. All crops when cut, mortgaged, or sold, become personal property.
  • Annexation is the addition to property by the act of attaching a smaller item to the larger property as in attaching personal property to real property, thereby, creating a fixture. For example, a sink becomes a fixture when it is annexed to the plumbing outlet.
  • Attachment creates real property while severance creates personal property.

VA 4THINK  M. A. R. I. A.

Anything affixed to the land 5 tests:

  1. Method of attachment
    1. Adaptability
    1. Relationship of the parties
    1. Intentions
    1. Agreement

Which of the above is the strongest in testing fixtures?

Intent is the most important test. If the improver intended to make a permanent improvement to the property, it is likely to be a fixture.