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What is Real Property?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 17, 2024
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Real property is property in the form of land, what lies beneath the land, and objects fixed to the land. For example, if someone owns a house, this is considered real property, as are the mineral deposits underneath the house and the land the house physically stands on. This type of property is very important type in property law, and there are a number of laws which pertain to the handling of this type of property. Laws vary by region, with different areas having different legal standards.

Another type of property is personal property, which is contrasted from real property by being movable. A house is real property; the couch inside is personal property. A third type of property is known as intellectual property. Each type is treated differently under the law, with various laws pertaining to ownership, right to use, and other issues.

People may refer to real property as real estate or immovable property. As a general rule, land and any sort of immovable improvements made are treated as real property. By contrast, things like equipment are personal property because they can be moved. Rights over minerals and other deposits under the property may also be reassigned, as when someone sells the mineral rights, but keeps the land. Sometimes people utilize contracts such as sales of mineral or oil rights to generate an income from their real property without having to sell the property itself.

The interest which someone has in real property is known as an estate, and there are several different kinds of estate. Tenants, for example, have a form of estate by agreement with the owner of the property, because they are being allowed to use the property in exchange for rent or other forms of payment. Likewise, multiple people can have an interest in a property which is split between heirs, and so forth.

Some lawyers specialize in handling issues which pertain to real estate. These can include ownership disputes, establishment of easements, contract law, and so forth. It is sometimes necessary to consult a legal specialist when framing a deal to make sure that the deal is legal and fair for all parties, and to confirm that everyone's interests and expectations are clearly spelled out. Consulting fees for using a legal professional can vary, depending on the complexity of the job and the region in which the transaction is taking place.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseGeek researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By anon926061 — On Jan 16, 2014

icecream17 - you bring up a great point; Homestead Exemption. Do you have further information on what and how that came about and to what it applies? It appears to have been brought into existence from occurrences where a licensed business shared a location with a dweller, such that the owner of the private property lived in an upstairs unit, but had a licensed retail store below, making the retail store taxable. However, the government could not also tax the dwelling unit of the owner upstairs, thus granted him a Homestead Exemption. Does that sound accurate to you?

By Sunny27 — On Oct 30, 2010

Bhutan-That makes sense. I just wanted to add that a real property lease really outlines the terms and condition that a landlord is providing his or her tenants.

This lease is a legal document and should be carefully examined before signing. Information on the rental rate increases will also be included in this document.

Most rental rate increases involve increases of about 5%, if this rate is higher or the amount is not disclosed, you should clarify the information before signing.

By Bhutan — On Oct 30, 2010

Crispety- I wanted to add that a life estate is yet another real property conveyance that allows the person holding the life estate the ability to live in the property for life. Upon the death of the person with a life estate, the property would be willed to another family member. This often happens with blended families in which the deceased father may have children that could inherit property, but instead the father might offer a life estate for his wife or the stepmother of the children which entitles her to live in the home until she dies.

At the point of her death, the property will then transfer ownership to the father’s children. This is often done with the rationale that the stepmother will be severely damaged if she lost her home, while her stepchildren will not. This allows everyone to benefit as much as possible.

By Crispety — On Oct 30, 2010

Icecream17-A real property conveyance involves the inheritance of real property deeds.

A fee absolute refers to the ability to maintain current interest in a property or provide a transfer in the future listed in a will.

A fee tail allows for the property to be kept in the family or bloodline. Only a few states recognize this form of transfer of property.

By icecream17 — On Oct 30, 2010

Real property records can be found online with the county real property records.

Here you can see what a property was purchased for along with the real property assessments or property taxes on the actual property.

The real property values are usually more than the assessed real property value because there is usually some form of homestead exception that allows you to take a tax deduction on the overall value of your home.

You have to keep this in mind when performing a real property search.

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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