Real Property

Real Property in the United States

The term real property derives from the Anglo-French phrase propreté proprieté, which in turn came from the Latin proprietat proprietas, essentially meaning private property.

Real Property Definition

Something which may be held by tenure, or will pass to the heir of the possessor at his death, instead of his executor, including lands, tenements, and hereditaments, whether the latter be corporeal or incorporeal. 1 Atk. Conv. In respect to property, real and personal correspond very nearly (according to the definition of Real Property based on the Cyclopedic Law Dictionary ; this definition may need to be proofread) with immovables and movables of the civil law. By the latter, biens is a general term for property; and these are classified into movable and immovable, and the latter are subdivided into corporeal and incorporeal. Guyot, Rep. Univ. Biens. By immovables the civil law intended property which could not be removed at all, or not without destroying the same, together with such movables as are fixed to the freehold, or have been so fixed and are intended to be again united with it, although at the time severed therefrom, Tayl. Civ. Law, 475. The same distinction and rules of law as to the nature and divisions of property are adopted in Scotland, where, as by the Roman law, another epithet is applied to immovables.

They are called heritables, and go to the heir, as distinguished from movables, which go to executors or administrators. So, rights connected with or affecting heritable property, such as tithes, servitudes, and the like, are themselves heritable, and in this it coincides with the common law, Ersk. Inst. 192. In another respect, the Scotch coincides with the common law, in declaring growing crops of annual planting and culture not to be heritable, but to go to executors, etc., although so far a part of the real estate that they would pass by a conveyance of the land. Ersk. Inst. 193; Williams, Ex’rs, 600. Though the term real, as applied to property, in distinction from personal, is now so familiar, it is one of a somewhat recent introduction. While the feudal law prevailed, the terms in use in its stead were lands, tenements, or hereditaments; and these acquired the epithet of real from the nature of the remedy applied by law for the recovery of tliem, as distinguished from that provided in case of injuries, contracts broken, and the like. In the one case, the claimant or demandant recovered the real thing sued for, the land itself, while, ordinarily, in the other he could only recover recompense in the form of pecuniary damages.

The term, it is said as a means of designation, did not come into general use until after the feudal system had lost its hold, nor till even as late as the commencement of the seventeenth century. One of the earliest cases in which the courts applied the distinctive terms of real and personal to estates, without any words of explanation, is said, to have been that of Wind. Read more about Real Property in the legal Dictionaries.

Plain-English Law

Real Property as defined by Nolo’s Encyclopedia of Everyday Law (p. 437-455):

Another term for real estate. It includes land and things permanently attached to the land, such as trees, buildings, and stationary mobile homes.

Practical Information

Note: Some of this information was last updated in 1982

The land, appurtenances, and any manmade improvement attached to it. (All other property is personal property (in U.S. law).) Thus in addition to the land, real property includes the buildings, natural growth, minerals, and timber, that have not been separated from the land. For example, apples on the tree constitute real property, whereas harvested apples become personal property.

(Revised by Ann De Vries)

What is Real Property?

For a meaning of it, read Real Property in the Legal Dictionary here. Browse and search more U.S. and international free legal definitions and legal terms related to Real Property.

Real Property Online Resources

The concept of private property, especially the big-ticket items like houses and land, is such a central element in the modern world that it naturally finds easy expression on the Internet.

The number of sites and the amount of information those sites provide increases as the Internet grows in sophistication, and as more lawyers and real estate professionals recognize the value of offering and accessing relevant data online. Already, people frequently research homes and land-and even buy and sell them-over the Internet.

California provides a wide range of real property material online, from laws and regulations for legal practitioners to mortgage and licensing information for everyone. The California Codes (www.leginfo.ca.gov/calaw.html) and the California Code of Regulations (http://ccr.oal.ca.gov/), specifically Title 25 Housing and Community Development, are up-to-date and well maintained.

A practical site to help clients find qualified appraisers, especially in this refinancing environment, is the Office of Real Estate Appraisers (www.orea.ca.gov)-particularly its new search-able listing of the state’s appraisers (www.orea.ca.gov/html/lic_appraisers.shtml/). The site also provides a listing of federal and state laws and regulations involving real property transactions.

The California Department of Real Estate (www.dre.cahwnet.gov) allows you to check on the licenses of brokers (http://secure.dre.ca.gov/PublicASP/pplinfo.asp). Note that you must type the broker’s last name first, followed by a comma, and then the first name. Other California agencies include the California Housing Finance Agency (www.chfa.ca.gov); the Department of Housing and Community Development (http://housing.hcd.ca.gov), with its Division of Codes and Standards (http://hous ing.hcd.ca.gov/codes/); and the State Board of Equalization (www.boe.ca.gov/boelist.htm), which provides forms for sales and use taxes, special taxes, and property taxes, as well as miscellaneous publications.

The Department of Conservation, Division of Mines and Geology (www.consrv.ca.gov/dmg/index.htm) provides data and maps about sensitive watersheds, earthquake fault zones, and landslides, while the Coastal Commission (www.coastal.ca.gov/) has a listing of Coastal Commission meetings (including agendas and results), along with a list of publications, including the full text of the California Coastal Act (www.coastal.ca.gov/coastact.pdf) in Adobe’s portable document format. If you don’t have Adobe’s free Acrobat Reader (www.adobe.com/prodindex/acrobat/readstep.html#reader), you’ll have to download and install it. Cal Gold (www.calgold.ca.gov/) offers specific information on permits and other requirements of California government agencies, as well as general information such as addresses, telephone numbers, and links to official Web pages.

Finding municipal codes online can make your life easier, but although several sites offer lists of cities and counties, none is thorough. The best of the lot is the Seattle Public Library (www.spl.lib.wa.us//govpubs/municode.html), which provides municipal codes nationwide. Other sites include Municipal Code Corporation (www.municode.com/) and General Code Publishers (www.generalcode.com/webcode2.html). You can find California municipal codes at individual city and county sites by looking under California Cities and Counties on Excite’s Travel page (www.excite.com/travel/coun tries/united_states/california/), or by checking out the League of California Cities (www.cacities.org/) and the Association of Bay Area Governments (www.abag.ca.gov/home.html).

In terms of federal legal material, the primary source is the U.S. Code (www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/), particularly Title 42 Public Health and Welfare (www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/42/), which has many chapters that deal with land and housing. Chapter 44 (www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/42/ch44.html) covers the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (www.hud.gov), whose site offers highlights for real property lawyers at HUD’s Office of the General Counsel’s Web page (www.hud.gov/offices/ogc/).

Also, the Appraisal Subcommittee of the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (www.asc.gov/) offers free email notification of disciplinary actions taken against appraisers on the National Registry (www.asc.gov/content/category1/list_signup/index.asp).

Finally, several sites offer valuable collections of real property law and links to associated sites. They include the impressive list of links compiled by Ira Waldman of Cox, Castle & Nicholson and Michael S. Klein of Klein & Weisz (http://firms.findlaw.com/MichaelIra/memo1.htm).

Other top links are lectlaw.com/inll/106.htm (the U.S. House of Representatives Internet Law Library collection of land use, zoning, real property, and historical preservation law links) and abanet.org/rppt/sites.html (the American Bar Association’s Real Property, Probate and Trust law section)

Real Property in Foreign Legal Encyclopedias

For starting research in the law of a foreign country:

Link Description
Real Property Real Property in the World Legal Encyclopedia.
Real Property Real Property in the European Legal Encyclopedia.
Real Property Real Property in the Asian Legal Encyclopedia.
Real Property Real Property in the UK Legal Encyclopedia.
Real Property Real Property in the Australian Legal Encyclopedia.

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50 State Survey–Real Property Database

This is a database related to interests in and transfers of real estate, in the following material: Administrative Materials. A description of this real estate database is provided below:

Surveys of state statutes and regulations pertaining to real property plus references to the applicable statutes and regulations. Not available to law school subscribers.

Further information on United States legal research databases, including real property databases, are provided following the former link.

Bernhardt and Burkhart's Real Property in a Nutshell Database

This is a database related to interests in and transfers of real estate, in the following material: General Treatises, Forms, and Practice Guides. A description of this real estate database is provided below:

Full text of Real Property in a Nutshell, Fifth Edition, which summarizes real property rules.The book is divided into three sections: The first section covers interests in land, such as adverse possession, common law estates, and concurrent ownership. The second section covers conveyances through real estate brokers, contracts of sale, transfers of title by deed, and mortgages. The third section discusses miscellaneous property doctrines. Not available to law school subscribers.

Further information on United States legal research databases, including real property databases, are provided following the former link.

Real Property

In Legislation

Real Property in the U.S. Code: Title 10, Subtitle B, Part IV, Chapter 449

The current, permanent, in-force federal laws regulating real property are compiled in the United States Code under Title 10, Subtitle B, Part IV, Chapter 449. It constitutes “prima facie” evidence of statutes relating to Army (including real property) of the United States. The reader can further narrow his/her legal research of the general topic (in this case, Supply to Military of the US Code, including real property) by chapter and subchapter.

Real Property

In Legislation

Real Property in the U.S. Code: Title 10, Subtitle D, Part IV, Chapter 949

The current, permanent, in-force federal laws regulating real property are compiled in the United States Code under Title 10, Subtitle D, Part IV, Chapter 949. It constitutes “prima facie” evidence of statutes relating to Air Force (including real property) of the United States. The reader can further narrow his/her legal research of the general topic (in this case, Supply to Military and Procurement of the US Code, including real property) by chapter and subchapter.

Resources

See Also

See: Real Estate in this Legal Encyclopedia
See: Real Estate definition in the Law Dictionary
See Land; Tenement; Hereditaments; Fixtures.

Further Reading

Real Property in the context of Real Estate

Resurces

See Also

  • Real Estate

Real Property: Open and Free Legal Research of US Law

Federal Primary Materials

The U.S. federal government system consists of executive, legislative, and judicial branches, each of which creates information that can be the subject of legal research about Real Property. This part provides references, in relation to Real Property, to the legislative process, the federal judiciary, and the primary sources of federal law (cases, statutes, and regulations).

Federal primary materials about Real Property by content types:

Laws and Regulations

US Constitution
Federal Statutory Codes and Legislation

Federal Case Law and Court Materials

U.S. Courts of Appeals
United States courts of appeals, inclouding bankruptcy courts and bankcruptcy appellate panels:

Federal Administrative Materials and Resources

Presidential Materials

Materials that emanate from the President’s lawmaking function include executive orders for officers in departments and agencies and proclamations for announcing ceremonial or commemorative policies. Presidential materials available include:

Executive Materials

Federal Legislative History Materials

Legislative history traces the legislative process of a particular bill (about Real Property and other subjects) for the main purpose of determining the legislators’ intent behind the enactment of a law to explain or clarify ambiguities in the language or the perceived meaning of that law (about Real Property or other topics), or locating the current status of a bill and monitoring its progress.

State Administrative Materials and Resources

State regulations are rules and procedures promulgated by state agencies (which may apply to Real Property and other topics); they are a binding source of law. In addition to promulgating regulations, state administrative boards and agencies often have judicial or quasi-judicial authority and may issue administrative decisions affecting Real Property. Finding these decisions can be challenging. In many cases, researchers about Real Property should check state agency web sites for their regulations, decisions, forms, and other information of interest.

State rules and regulations are found in codes of regulations and administrative codes (official compilation of all rules and regulations, organized by subject matter). Search here:

State opinions of the Attorney General (official written advisory opinions on issues of state law related to Real Property when formerly requested by a designated government officer):

Tools and Forms

Law in Other Regions

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