In English common law, real property, real estate, realty, or immovable property is land which is the property of some person and all structures (also called improvements or fixtures) integrated with or affixed to the land, including crops, buildings, machinery, wells, dams, ponds, mines, canals, and roads, among other things. The term is historic, arising from the now-discontinued form of action, which distinguished between real property disputes and personal property disputes. Personal property was, and continues to be, all property that is not real property.
In countries with personal ownership of real property, civil law protects the status of real property in real-estate markets, where estate agents work in the market of buying and selling real estate. Scottish civil law calls real property "heritable property", and in French-based law, it is called immobilier ("immovable property").
The word "real" derives from Latin res ("thing"), which was used in Middle English to mean "relating to things, especially real property".
In common law, real property was property that could be protected by some form of real action, in contrast to personal property, where a plaintiff would have to resort to another form of action. As a result of this formalist approach, some things the common law deems to be land would not be classified as such by most modern legal systems, for example an advowson (the right to nominate a priest) was real property. By contrast the rights of a leaseholder originate in personal actions and so the common law originally treated a leasehold as part of personal property.
The law now broadly distinguishes between real property (land and anything affixed to it) and personal property (everything else, e.g., clothing, furniture, money). The conceptual difference was between immovable property, which would transfer title along with the land, and movable property, which a person would retain title to.
In modern legal systems derived from English common law, classification of property as real or personal may vary somewhat according to jurisdiction or, even within jurisdictions, according to purpose, as in defining whether and how the property may be taxed.
Bethell (1998) contains much historical information on the historical evolution of real property and property rights.
To be of any value a claim to any property must be accompanied by a verifiable and legal property description. Such a description usually makes use of natural or manmade boundaries such as seacoasts, rivers, streams, the crests of ridges, lakeshores, highways, roads, and railroad tracks, and/or purpose-built markers such as cairns, surveyor's posts, fences, official government surveying marks (such as ones affixed by the National Geodetic Survey), and so forth. In many cases, a description refers to one or more lots on a plat, a map of property boundaries kept in public records.
The law recognizes different sorts of interests, called estates, in real property. The type of estate is generally determined by the language of the deed, lease, bill of sale, will, land grant, etc., through which the estate was acquired. Estates are distinguished by the varying property rights that vest in each, and that determine the duration and transferability of the various estates. A party enjoying an estate is called a "tenant."
Some important types of estates in land include:
A tenant enjoying an undivided estate in some property after the termination of some estate of limited term, is said to have a "future interest." Two important types of future interests are:
Estates may be held jointly as joint tenants with rights of survivorship or as tenants in common. The difference in these two types of joint ownership of an estate in land is basically the inheritability of the estate and the shares of interest that each tenant owns.
In a joint tenancy with rights of survivorship deed, or JTWROS, the death of one tenant means that the surviving tenant(s) become the sole owner(s) of the estate. Nothing passes to the heirs of the deceased tenant. In some jurisdictions, the specific words "with right of survivorship" must be used, or the tenancy will assumed to be tenants in common without rights of survivorship. The co-owners always take a JTWROS deed in equal shares, so each tenant must own an equal share of the property regardless of his/her contribution to purchase price. If the property is someday sold or subdivided, the proceeds must be distributed equally with no credits given for any excess than any one co-owner may have contributed to purchase the property.
The death of a co-owner of a tenants in common (TIC) deed will have a heritable portion of the estate in proportion to his ownership interest which is presumed to be equal among all tenants unless otherwise stated in the transfer deed. However, if TIC property is sold or subdivided, in some States, Provinces, etc., a credit can be automatically made for unequal contributions to the purchase price (unlike a partition of a JTWROS deed).
Bundle of Rights: Real property is unique because there are multiple "rights" associated with each piece of property. For example, most U.S. jurisdictions recognized the following rights: right to sell, right to lease, right to acquire minerals/gas/oil/etc. within the land, right to use, right to possess, right to develop, etc. These multiple rights are important because the owner of the real property can generally do what he/she chooses with each right. For example, the owner could choose to keep all the rights but lease the right to dig for oil to an oil company. Or the owner could choose to keep all the rights but lease the property to a tenant. In other words, the owner can elect to keep and/or lease and/or sell the rights to his/her land.
Other Ownership types:
In the law of almost every country, the state is the ultimate owner of all land under its jurisdiction, because it is the sovereign, or supreme lawmaking authority. Physical and corporate persons do not have allodial title; they do not own land but only enjoy estates in the land, also known as "equitable interests."
In many countries the Torrens title system of real estate ownership is managed and guaranteed by the government and replaces cumbersome tracing of ownership. The Torrens title system operates on the principle of "title by registration" (i.e. the indefeasibility of a registered interest) rather than "registration of title." The system does away with the need for a chain of title (i.e. tracing title through a series of documents) and does away with the conveyancing costs of such searches. The State guarantees title and is usually supported by a compensation scheme for those who lose their title due to the State's operation. It has been in practice in all Australian states and in New Zealand since between 1858 and 1875, has more recently been extended to strata title, and has been adopted by many states, provinces and countries, and in modified form in 9 states of the USA.
In the United Kingdom, The Crown is held to be the ultimate owner of all real property in the realm. This fact is material when, for example, property has been disclaimed by its erstwhile owner, in which case the law of escheat applies. In some other jurisdictions (not including the United States), real property is held absolutely.
English law has retained the common law distinction between real property and personal property, whereas the civil law distinguishes between "movable" and "immovable" property. In English law, real property is not confined to the ownership of property and the buildings sited thereon – often referred to as "land." Real property also includes many legal relationships between individuals or owners of land that are purely conceptual. One such relationship is the easement, where the owner of one property has the right to pass over a neighbouring property. Another is the various "incorporeal hereditaments," such as profits-à-prendre, where an individual may have the right to take crops from land that is part of another's estate.
English law retains a number of forms of property which are largely unknown in other common law jurisdictions such as the advowson, chancel repair liability and lordships of the manor. These are all classified as real property, as they would have been protected by real actions in the early common law.
Each U.S. State except Louisiana has its own laws governing real property and the estates therein, grounded in the common law. In Arizona, real property is generally defined as land and the things permanently attached to the land. Things that are permanently attached to the land, which also can be referred to as improvements, include homes, garages, and buildings. Manufactured homes can obtain an affidavit of affixture.
Land use, land valuation, and the determination of the incomes of landowners, are among the oldest questions in economic theory. Land is an essential input (factor of production) for agriculture, and agriculture is by far the most important economic activity in pre-industrial societies. With the advent of industrialization, important new uses for land emerge, as sites for factories, warehouses, offices, and urban agglomerations. Also, the value of real property taking the form of man-made structures and machinery increases relative to the value of land alone. The concept of real property eventually comes to encompass effectively all forms of tangible fixed capital. with the rise of extractive industries, real property comes to encompass natural capital. With the rise of tourism and leisure, real property comes to include scenic and other amenity values.
Starting in the 1960s, as part of the emerging field of law and economics, economists and legal scholars began to study the property rights enjoyed by tenants under the various estates, and the economic benefits and costs of the various estates. This resulted in a much improved understanding of the:
For an introduction to the economic analysis of property law, see Shavell (2004), and Cooter and Ulen (2003). For a collection of related scholarly articles, see Epstein (2007). Ellickson (1993) broadens the economic analysis of real property with a variety of facts drawn from history and ethnography.
A charter is the grant of authority or rights, stating that the granter formally recognizes the prerogative of the recipient to exercise the rights specified. It is implicit that the granter retains superiority (or sovereignty), and that the recipient admits a limited (or inferior) status within the relationship, and it is within that sense that charters were historically granted, and that sense is retained in modern usage of the term.
The word entered the English language from the Old French charte, via Latin charta, and ultimately from Greek χάρτης (khartes, meaning "layer of papyrus"). It has come to be synonymous with a document that sets out a grant of rights or privileges.Conveyancing
In law, conveyancing is the transfer of legal title of real property from one person to another, or the granting of an encumbrance such as a mortgage or a lien. A typical conveyancing transaction has two major phases: the exchange of contracts (when equitable interests are created) and completion (also called settlement, when legal title passes and equitable rights merge with the legal title).
The sale of land is governed by the laws and practices of the jurisdiction in which the land is located. It is a legal requirement in all jurisdictions that contracts for the sale of land be in writing. An exchange of contracts involves two copies of a contract of sale being signed, one copy of which is retained by each party. When the parties are together, both would usually sign both copies, one copy of which being retained by each party, sometimes with a formal handing over of a copy from one party to the other. However, it is usually sufficient that only the copy retained by each party be signed by the other party only — hence contracts are "exchanged". This rule enables contracts to be "exchanged" by mail. Both copies of the contract of sale become binding only after each party is in possession of a copy of the contract signed by the other party—ie., the exchange is said to be "complete". An exchange by electronic means is generally insufficient for an exchange, unless the laws of the jurisdiction expressly validate such signatures.
It is the responsibility of the buyer of real property to ensure that he or she obtains a good and marketable title to the land—ie., that the seller is the owner, has the right to sell the property, and there is no factor which would impede a mortgage or re-sale. Some jurisdictions have legislated some protections for the buyer, besides the ability for the buyer to do searches relating to the property.
A system of conveyancing is usually designed to ensure that the buyer secures title to the land together with all the rights that run with the land, and is notified of any restrictions in advance of purchase. Many jurisdictions have adopted a system of land registration to facilitate conveyancing and encourage reliance on public records and assure purchasers of land that they are taking good title.Deed
A deed (anciently "an evidence") is any legal instrument in writing which passes, affirms or confirms an interest, right, or property and that is signed, attested, delivered, and in some jurisdictions, sealed. It is commonly associated with transferring (conveyancing) title to property. The deed has a greater presumption of validity and is less rebuttable than an instrument signed by the party to the deed. A deed can be unilateral or bilateral. Deeds include conveyances, commissions, licenses, patents, diplomas, and conditionally powers of attorney if executed as deeds. The deed is the modern descendant of the medieval charter, and delivery is thought to symbolically replace the ancient ceremony of livery of seisin.The traditional phrase signed, sealed and delivered refers to the practice of seals; however, attesting witnesses have replaced seals to some extent. Agreements under seal are also called contracts by deed or specialty; in the United States, a specialty is enforceable without consideration. In some jurisdictions, specialties have a liability limitation period of double that of a simple contract and allow for a third party beneficiary to enforce an undertaking in the deed, thereby overcoming the doctrine of privity. Specialties, as a form of contract, are bilateral and can therefore be distinguished from covenants, which, being also under seal, are unilateral promises.English property law
English property law refers to the law of acquisition, sharing and protection of valuable assets in England and Wales. While part of the United Kingdom, many elements of Scots property law are different. In England, property law encompasses four main topics:
English land law, or the law of "real property"
English trusts law
English personal property law
United Kingdom intellectual property lawProperty in land is the domain of the law of real property. The law of personal property is particularly important for commercial law and insolvency. Trusts affect everything in English property law. Intellectual property is also an important branch of the law of property. For unregistered land see Unregistered land in English law.Estate (law)
An estate, in common law, is the net worth of a person at any point in time alive or dead. It is the sum of a person's assets – legal rights, interests and entitlements to property of any kind – less all liabilities at that time. The issue is of special legal significance on a question of bankruptcy and death of the person. (See inheritance.)
Depending on the particular context, the term is also used in reference to an estate in land or of a particular kind of property (such as real estate or personal estate). The term is also used to refer to the sum of a person's assets only.
The equivalent in civil law legal systems is patrimony.Estate in land
An estate in land is an interest in real property that is or may become possessory.
In the legal systems of almost every country, the ultimate true "owner" of all land is the sovereign, which for a republic is the whole people of a society, which with sovereign, exclusive control over a well-defined tract of land, may be called a "state". Private parties own not the underlying land, but claims on parcels of land, which taken together define the estate for that parcel. This superior ownership is the basis for taking the land through eminent domain. However, the claims that define the estate are themselves personal property.
This should be distinguished from an "estate" as used in reference to an area of land, and "estate" as used to refer to property in general.
In property law, the rights and interests associated with an estate in land may be conceptually understood as a "bundle of rights" because of the potential for different parties having different interests in the same real property.Fee simple
In English law, a fee simple or fee simple absolute is an estate in land, a form of freehold ownership. It is a way that real estate and land may be owned in common law countries, and is the highest possible ownership interest that can be held in real property. Allodial title is reserved to governments under a civil law structure. The rights of the fee simple owner are limited by government powers of taxation, compulsory purchase, police power, and escheat, and it could also be limited further by certain encumbrances or conditions in the deed, such as, for example, a condition that required the land to be used as a public park, with a reversion interest in the grantor if the condition fails; this is a fee simple conditional.Fief
A fief (; Latin: feudum) was the central element of feudalism and consisted of heritable property or rights granted by an overlord to a vassal who held it in fealty (or "in fee") in return for a form of feudal allegiance and service, usually given by the personal ceremonies of homage and fealty. The fees were often lands or revenue-producing real property held in feudal land tenure: these are typically known as fiefs or fiefdoms. However, not only land but anything of value could be held in fee, including governmental office, rights of exploitation such as hunting or fishing, monopolies in trade, and tax farms.Freehold (law)
In common law jurisdictions like England and Wales, United States, Australia, Canada, and Ireland, a freehold is the common ownership of real property, or land, and all immovable structures attached to such land. It is in contrast to a leasehold: in which the property reverts to the owner of the land after the lease period has expired. For an estate to be a freehold, it must possess two qualities: immobility (property must be land or some interest issuing out of or annexed to land) and ownership of it must be of an indeterminate duration. If the time of ownership can be fixed and determined, it cannot be a freehold.It is "An estate in land held in fee simple, fee tail or for term of life." A subset is a perpetual freehold, which is "an estate given to a grantee for life, and then successively to the grantee's heirs for life."In England and Wales, before the Law of Property Act 1925, a freehold estate transferable to the owner's "heirs and assigns" (successors by inheritance, or purchase (including gift), respectively) was a fee simple estate. A fee tail estate describes when transfer (by inheritance or otherwise) was limited to lineal descendants of the first person to whom the estate was given (known as "heirs of the body" or "heirs of the blood"). There were also freehold estates not of inheritance, such as an estate for life.Land tenure
In common law systems, land tenure is the legal regime in which land is owned by an individual, who is said to "hold" the land. It determines who can use land, for how long, and under what conditions. Tenure may be based both on official laws and policies, and on informal customs. The French verb "tenir" means "to hold" and "tenant" is the present participle of "tenir". The sovereign monarch, known as The Crown, held land in its own right. All private owners are either its tenants or sub-tenants. Tenure signifies the relationship between tenant and lord, not the relationship between tenant and land. Over history, many different forms of land ownership, i.e., ways of owning land, have been established.
A landholder/landowner is a holder of the estate in land with considerable rights of ownership or, simply put, an owner of land.Landlord
A landlord is the owner of a house, apartment, condominium, land or real estate which is rented or leased to an individual or business, who is called a tenant (also a lessee or renter). When a juristic person is in this position, the term landlord is used. Other terms include lessor and owner. The term landlady may be used for women owners, and lessor may be used regardless of gender identity. The manager of a UK pub, strictly speaking a licensed victualler, is referred to as the landlord.Leasehold estate
A leasehold estate is an ownership of a temporary right to hold land or property in which a lessee or a tenant holds rights of real property by some form of title from a lessor or landlord. Although a tenant does hold rights to real property, a leasehold estate is typically considered personal property.
Leasehold is a form of land tenure or property tenure where one party buys the right to occupy land or a building for a given length of time. As lease is a legal estate, leasehold estate can be bought and sold on the open market. A leasehold thus differs from a freehold or fee simple where the ownership of a property is purchased outright and thereafter held for an indeterminate length of time, and also differs from a tenancy where a property is let (rented) on a periodic basis such as weekly or monthly.
Until the end of the lease period (often measured in decades or centuries; a 99-year lease is quite common) the leaseholder has the right to remain in occupation as an assured tenant paying an agreed rent to the owner. Terms of the agreement are contained in a lease, which has elements of contract and property law intertwined.
The term estate for years may occasionally be used. This refers to a leasehold estate for any specific period of time (the word "years" is misleading.) An estate for years is not automatically renewed.
Colloquially, "lease" and "leasing" are often a formalization of a longer, specific period as compared with a "rental" that created a tenancy at will, terminable or renewable at the end of a short period.Personal property
Personal property is generally considered property that is movable, as opposed to real property or real estate. In common law systems, personal property may also be called chattels or personalty. In civil law systems, personal property is often called movable property or movables – any property that can be moved from one location to another.
Personal property is movable and can be understood in comparison to immovable property or real property, such as land and buildings. Movable property on land, for example, larger livestock, was not automatically sold with the land, it was "personal" to the owner and moved with the owner. The word cattle is the Old Norman variant of Old French chatel, chattel (derived from Latin capitalis, “of the head”), which was once synonymous with general movable personal property.Property law
Property law is the area of law that governs the various forms of ownership and tenancy in real property (land as distinct from personal or movable possessions) and in personal property, within the common law legal system. In the civil law system, there is a division between movable and immovable property. Movable property roughly corresponds to personal property, while immovable property corresponds to real estate or real property, and the associated rights, and obligations thereon.
The concept, idea or philosophy of property underlies all property law. In some jurisdictions, historically all property was owned by the monarch and it devolved through feudal land tenure or other feudal systems of loyalty and fealty.
Though the Napoleonic code was among the first government acts of modern times to introduce the notion of absolute ownership into statute, protection of personal property rights was present in medieval Islamic law and jurisprudence, and in more feudalist forms in the common law courts of medieval and early modern England as wellReal estate
Real estate is "property consisting of land and the buildings on it, along with its natural resources such as crops, minerals or water; immovable property of this nature; an interest vested in this (also) an item of real property, (more generally) buildings or housing in general. Also: the business of real estate; the profession of buying, selling, or renting land, buildings, or housing."
It is a legal term used in jurisdictions whose legal system is derived from English common law, such as India, England, Wales, Northern Ireland, United States, Canada, Pakistan, Australia, and New Zealand.Real estate broker
A real estate broker or a real estate agent is a person who represents sellers or buyers of real estate/real property. While a broker may work independently, an agent must work under a licensed broker to represent clients. Brokers and agents are licensed by the state to negotiate sales agreements and manage the documentation required for closing real estate transactions. In North America, some brokers and agents are members of the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the largest trade association for the industry. NAR members are obligated by a code of ethics that go above and beyond state legal requirements to work in the best interest of the client. Buyers and sellers are generally advised to consult a licensed real estate professional for a written definition of an individual state's laws of agency, and many states require written disclosures to be signed by all parties outlining the duties and obligations.
Generally, real estate brokers/ agents fall into four categories of representation:
Seller's Agents, commonly called "listing brokers" or "listing agents," are contracted by owners to assist with marketing property for sale and/or lease.
Buyer's Agents are brokers or salespersons who assist buyers by helping them purchase property.
Dual Agents help both the buyer and the seller in the same transaction. To protect their license to practice, a real estate broker owes both parties fair and honest dealing and must request that both parties (seller and buyer) sign a dual agency agreement. Special laws/rules often apply to dual agents, especially in negotiating price. In dual agency situations, a conflict of interest is more likely to occur, typically resulting in the loss of advocacy for both parties .Individual state laws vary and interpret dual agency rather differently, with some no longer allowing it. In some states, Dual Agency can be practiced in situations where the same brokerage (but not agent) represent both the buyer and the seller. If one agent from the brokerage has a home listed and another agent from that brokerage has a buyer-brokerage agreement with a buyer who wishes to buy the listed property, dual agency occurs by allowing each agent to be designated as an "intra-company" agent. Only the broker himself is the Dual Agent.
Transaction Brokers provide the buyer and seller with a limited form of representation but without any fiduciary obligations. Having no more than a facilitator relationship, transaction brokers assist buyers, sellers, or both during the transaction without representing the interests of either party who may then be regarded as customers. The assistance provided are the legal documents for an agreement between the buyer and seller on how a particular transfer of property will happen.A real estate broker typically receives a real estate commission for successfully completing a sale. Across the U.S. this commission can generally range between 5-6% of the property's sale price for a full service broker but this percentage varies by state and even region. This commission can be divided up with other participating real estate brokers or agents. Flat-fee brokers and Fee-for-Service brokers can charge significantly less depending on the type of services offered.Recorder of deeds
Recorder of deeds or Deeds registry is a government office tasked with maintaining public records and documents, especially records relating to real estate ownership that provide persons other than the owner of a property with real rights over that property.Torrens title
Torrens title is a land registration and land transfer system, in which a state creates and maintains a register of land holdings, which serves as the conclusive evidence (termed "indefeasibility") of title of the person recorded on the register as the proprietor (owner), and of all other interests recorded on the register. The interests that are not guaranteed are called "paramount interests". Ownership of land is transferred by registration of a transfer of title, instead of by the use of deeds. The Registrar would provide a Certificate of Title to the new proprietor, which is merely a copy of the related folio of the register.
The main benefit of the system is to enhance certainty of title to land and to simplify dealings involving land. The system has been adopted by many countries, especially those in the Commonwealth of Nations, and has been extended to cover other interests, including credit interests (such as mortgages), leaseholds and strata titles. The design and introduction in 1858 of the Torrens system in South Australia is generally attributed to Sir Robert Richard Torrens (1814 – 31 August 1884), who was Premier of the then colony, though some attribute the design to another.Will and testament
A will or testament is a legal document by which a person, the testator, expresses their wishes as to how their property is to be distributed at death, and names one or more persons, the executor, to manage the estate until its final distribution. For the devolution of property not disposed of by will, see inheritance and intestacy.
Though it has at times been thought that a "will" was historically limited to real property while "testament" applies only to dispositions of personal property (thus giving rise to the popular title of the document as "Last Will and Testament"), the historical records show that the terms have been used interchangeably. Thus, the word "will" validly applies to both personal and real property. A will may also create a testamentary trust that is effective only after the death of the testator.