Real Estate and Real Property Law
- Real estate or real property is land and the buildings thereon, including anything affixed or attached to the land that cannot be severed without damage, like a fixture inside a house (built-in cabinets) or an attached structure (garage).
- Real property differs from personal property, which is any movable or tangible thing that is subject to ownership (a pen, bike, or couch).
- Real property is either commercial, i.e., zoned for business use, or residential.
- Property is usually held in fee simple, which is unrestricted ownership, different from a life estate, which is ownership during a lifetime.
- Individuals can own property together as joint tenants, tenants in common or tenants by the entirety.
- Property passes through real estate title either by deed, foreclosure or inheritance. Prior to a real estate closing, a title search is completed, determining whether or not the property is free and clear of encumbrances. During the closing, the buyer, seller and bank's representative "pass papers" and sign all the necessary closing documents. The deed and mortgage are then recorded (filed) at the Registry of Deeds.
- Real Estate Law covers such issues as real estate conveyancing (passing title to a new owner), real estate development (developing subdivisions, commercial uses such as malls, or homes for the elderly), and land use (zoning and environmental impact).
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For Real Estate definitions, visit the Property Rights and Real Estate Law Glossary in the FindLaw Legal Dictionary.