Real estate is a legal term that includes land along with anything permanently affixed to the land, including buildings, fences and other items attached to the structure. Real estate is often considered synonymous with real property (also called realty), in distinction with personal property, chattel, or personality. However, for technical purposes, some people prefer to differentiate real estate, referring to the land and fixtures themselves, from real property, referring to ownership rights over real estate.
Real estate transactions are managed by federal statutes, as well as state statutory and common law. The expressions real estate and real property are used principally in common law, while civil law jurisdictions refer instead to immovable property. Real Estate Law encompasses these state a statutes and laws, as well as property law matters. The requirements established by state law often vary considerably from one state to the next. Real estate law includes a wide diversity of legal issues relating to purchasing, financing, developing, managing, constructing, rental and selling commercial and residential real property of all kinds, including:
In recent years, many economists have accepted that the lack of effective real estate laws can be an important obstacle to investment in many emergent countries. In most societies, rich or poor, an important part of the total affluence is in the form of land and buildings. In most sophisticated economies, the main source of capital used by individuals and small companies to acquire and improve land and buildings is mortgages -- bank loans for which the real property itself represents collateral.
- Real estate transactions relating to representation, litigation, consultation and negotiation of mortgages, mortgage re-financing, reverse mortgages, 1031 tax-deferred exchanges, residential purchase and sale agreements, commercial purchase and sale agreements, residential rents, and commercial rents (e.g., office, medical building, restaurant).
- Real estate litigations, including disputes over adverse possession, prescriptive easements, distinguished domain, condemnation, property taxes, title and limits, views, trees, branches, party walls, fences, as well as nuisance, infringe and encroachment, as well as sale disputes.
- Real estate broker issues, including claims against and protection of real estate brokers and agents including negligence, fraud/falsification, violate of fiduciary obligation, disclosure obligations.
- Construction defects and mechanic's liens, encompassing disputes that owners, builders and contractors may have in consider to construction disputes, construction defects and claims, as well as construction accident claims.
- Land use and zoning subjects, encompassing representation of property owners before governmental entities (cities, counties, zoning boards, design review boards) involving to land use applications, allows variances, zoning exceptions, design evaluation approvals, and particular use allows, as well as common interest communities, including explanation and enforcement of Covenants and Conditions & Restrictions (CC&R's).
Banks are disposed to make such loans at positive rates in large part because if the borrower does not make payments the lender can foreclose, that is, file a court action that lets them take the possessions and sell it to get their money back. But in many developing countries there is no efficient means by which a lender could foreclose, so the mortgage loan industry as such either does not exist at all or is only accessible to members of privileged social classes.