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Differences between Real Property and Personal Property

Simply defined, the property is an asset that a person can legally own. There are numerous forms of property, which can be categorized as either personal property or real property.

Differences between Real Property and Personal Property

Know property categories difference so that you can comprehend and effortlessly follow through every time they are the subject of conversation, particularly by property attorneys.

Each kind of property is perceived differently in relation to the law. For example, countless different laws explicitly apply to real estate whereas others relate specifically to personal property.

Understanding the different categorizations of a property will help you know the rules that apply to a particular property and which procedures, or policies are available for property rights violations.

This piece will discuss in detail both real and personal property, as well as outline the differences between the two categories.

Real Property

Real property is immobile property. It refers to land and things attached to it. That is why land is occasionally referred to as a real estate.

While wood, steel, and other construction constituents are not considered land; when they are constructed into buildings attached to the land, they, in turn, are constituents of real property.

Plants, including trees that naturally grow on land, are considered part of real property. However, plants that require consistent human input in maintenance, such as grains and vegetables, are not considered as part of the property.

Consequently, when we talk about real property, that includes land, buildings,  and mineral interests. All materials that are used for the construction of any structure attached to the piece of land are considered real property. Therefore, the important thing to always remember is that real property is the specified land and everything else attached to it.

Real property refers to real estate which is a fixed property and that means it cannot be moved. Structures put on farmland are considered real property as it is attached to the parcel of land.

Personal Property

Personal property can simply be described as movable property. Unlike real property, personal property is not permanent as it relates to land. Real property is defined as land or property attached to the land—consider personal property in contrast.

The personal property comprises properties of any form, provided it can be movable and is owned by an individual. Personal property is commonly referred to as assets and is used to define an owner’s net worth.

Good examples of personal property can include and are not limited to, insurance policies, bank accounts, furniture in homes, boats, stocks, vehicles, antiques, collectibles, books, pieces of jewelry, and pensions.

Concerning farmland as a fixed asset, farm animals are considered personal property as they can be moved at any point in time to another farm or place.

Furthermore, personal property is divided into intangible property and chattel.


Chattel refers to any type of physical or tangible personal property. Tangible personal property can be felt or touched. For example, a furnace is fitting that you can touch or see.

When a lease period is over, the tenant customarily has the right to take away fittings that he/she fixed even though he or she has no right to the building.

In another example, when a person purchases lumber, a saw, nails, a hammer, and other building supplies, these products are considered personal property.

They are categorized as chattels since they are moveable. Moreover, in a business scenario, chattels can include office furniture, business equipment, business goods, business vehicles, and much more.

Further extending to the above example, say a tenant uses his/her tangible purchases to build a small shed on the land. Is it correct to state that the shed is his or her personal property? Absolutely not. The shed is considered real property, mostly because it is immovable and is now attached to the owner’s land.

On the other hand, construction equipment and remaining building materials like nails remain to be tangible personal property as they are moveable.


Intangible personal property, as the name suggests, is the direct opposite of tangible property – it cannot be touched or seen. It merely comprises a legal right.

Knowing that such a type of property exists is a cue that, in reference to property law, the property can refer to a legal right, not a physical thing.

Intangible properties comprise insurance policies, bank accounts, franchises and licenses, bonds, stocks, intellectual property, for instance, patents, copyrights, and trademarks.  Money is also categorized as intangible property.

Differences between Real and Personal Property

Now that we have explicitly defined personal property and real property.  We can clearly outline the differences between the two:

Even though in trying to clarify the meanings of the different types of property, numerous variances have come up. Let’s outline the differences below. I bet you picked quite a number from the above information. Nonetheless, here are the major differences between real and personal property.

  • Real property cannot be moved and is permanent and can be on land. This includes perimeter walls, a house, blinds, windows, door fixtures, and much more. In contrast, personal property is moveable or can be taken away from a business or a home building, which includes furniture, light fixtures, artwork, and more.
  • Real property is commonly tangible, whereas personal property could be either tangible or intangible.
  • Real property could be long-lasting and durable whereas personal property is certainly not durable.
  • Personal property is easily comprehendible – if a piece is movable, then it is personal property.
  • In legal concerns, both personal and real property attract different legal dealings and procedures.

Well, from the above piece, it is quite evident that the difference between real and personal property is not that complicated, but the law can be quite sensitive and complex when dealing with issues in both.

Much information concerning this particular topic should be shared across the board to enlighten society. It can be a challenge when it comes to signing legally binding contracts on matters of personal and real property. It can be a little bit tricky if you are not conversant with the law.

For instance, when you are considering purchasing a home that has a swing and slide in the backyard, the seller of that house has the right to remove the set if it is not bolted to the land permanently, except if it is specified in the agreement as being part of the purchase.

In such circumstances, it’s always safe to seek advice from a professional attorney Seattle real estate attorneys. A professional attorney will help you with your deal of property when it comes to the laws that you need to consider regarding property transactions.


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