Definition of Real Estate and Real Property Law
The legal definition of real estate or real property is land and the buildings on it. Real estate law governs who may own and use the land.
This simple concept includes a wide range of different legal disciplines. First, real estate may be either residential or commercial. It can be owned by one person but used by another through rental arrangements. Land can be bought or sold, and due to its high value, there are many local laws that ensure real estate transactions are properly performed and recorded. Land may also pass between family members through estate planning, or may be owned by more than one person. Finally, state and local governments have rules concerning the purposes for which land may be used -- for example, each plot of land must be used according to local zoning laws, and landowners may not damage the surrounding environment.
Terms to Know
For Real Estate definitions, visit the Property Rights and Real Estate Law Glossary.
Practice Area Notes
Real Estate attorneys are not legally required at every transaction, however, hiring one can be very useful for the average homebuyers. First, real estate attorneys can review the house’s transaction history and title to ensure that the house is able to be sold and that no past owners will come back claiming to still own the house. Second, many attorneys can advise homeowners regarding their mortgaging options. Third, attorneys can help review the contract of sale to make sure there it is fair to all parties. Most real estate attorneys charge an hourly fee, although some charge a flat fee for their services.
Related Practice Areas