Legal Definition of Real Property

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What's the Legal Definition of "Real Property"?

The legal definition of real property is land, and anything growing on, affixed to, or built upon land. This also includes man-made buildings as well as crops. Real property is best characterized as property that doesn’t move, or that is attached to the land. This is in contrast to personal property, which can be moved or transferred physically. 

The terms “real estate” and “real property” can be used interchangeably. Also, real property may include not just the land, but anything that is permanently located within or under the land. This may include oil, gases, and minerals found under the land. Another term used for real property is “premises”.

How Is Real Property Transferred?

Both personal and real property can be transferred.  Most states have a statute of frauds law that requires all sales involving real property to be reduced to writing. This will help create a record of the transfer. 

Since real property can’t be physically “moved” from one owner to the next, a transfer needs to be done symbolically in order for it to be legally recognizable. This is usually accomplished through the exchange of a deed of title to the land. The transfer of the written deed should be recorded with the county recorder’s office, so that there is a record of the change of ownership.

Real property can be transferred in a number of ways, including:

What Is Private vs. Public Property?

Private property usually refers to real property that is owned by an individual or a group of individuals. In contrast, public property refers to real property that is owned by the state. There are different laws that govern the rights of private property owners in relation to public property. For instance, if the state needs to convert private property into public property, they need to provide notice as well as compensation to the parties that will be affected. 

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help With Real Property Issues?

If you have any questions or conflicts involving real property, you may need to hire a lawyer for advice. Your attorney can help you file a claim if necessary, and can represent you during formal court meetings. Also, your lawyer can provide you with valuable legal advice that can assist with your issue. 

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Last Modified: 09-10-2014 03:12 PM PDT

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