What is Real Estate and Real Property Law?

Most of us are pretty familiar with the term “real estate”. Although we probably couldn’t provide a full legal definition, we all generally know what it means.

“Real property”, on the other hand, is a less commonly-used term that the average person might not be familiar with.

However, real estate and real property are two branches of law that you should get familiar with if you own property or are planning to in the future. Having some basic knowledge about the laws surrounding your own real estate holdings could prove to be very useful in the future!

What is real estate law?

The term “real estate”, as you most likely already know, refers to a piece of land plus any structures or improvements that have been added to it. Real estate also covers “natural attachments” on the property, which are things like plants, trees, bodies of water, and mineral deposits in the soil.

Real estate is generally divided into three categories: residential, commercial, and industrial.

Residential real estate is property where people live, or property which is intended for habitation. Commercial real estate is property intended for business, which can mean all kinds of things– retail stores, restaurants, and offices, for example.

Finally, industrial real estate is technically an aspect of commercial real estate, but it’s distinct from commercial real estate because it’s used for things like production and manufacturing of goods.

What is real property law?

“Real property” might sound a little confusing if you’ve never heard it before. You might be thinking, “as opposed to what? Fake property?”

Essentially, “real property” is a slightly broader term than “real estate”. Real property includes the same things that real estate does– the land itself, improvements upon it like buildings and landscaping, plus natural attachments like trees, plants, and bodies of water.

Additionally, real property includes the rights of use for the specific property in question, otherwise known as the rights of use and enjoyment.

A good example of the concept of real property: if you’re renting an apartment, you legally have the right to use and enjoy the apartment you live in, and any amenities in the building or on the property, like a pool or laundry machines. 

The rights of use and enjoyment, however, don’t mean that you own the land; any disputes surrounding the right to inhabit your apartment might be considered real property considerations.

What’s the difference between real estate and real property law?

Real property concerns all of the same things that real estate does; a dispute over oil or mineral deposits located on a piece of property could be legally considered as either one.

The most important difference between the two is something called a “bundle of rights”.

Someone who used a mortgage to purchase their home might be dealing with real property law; the mortgage lender has some legal rights to the property until the mortgage is paid off. The “right of disposition”, included in the bundle of rights, means that you have the right to sell the property or dispose of it. 

However, if you have a mortgage lien on your property, your mortgage lender has the right of disposition for your property. That means that if you default on your loan, the lender is legally able to sell off your property.

How can I tell if my dispute deals with real estate or real property law?

These terms can be confusing for the average person; the law can get very complicated. If you’re not sure how to define a current legal dispute you’re involved in, it’s best to contact a qualified attorney who can help walk you through the process– and fight to protect your rights.

If you’re in need of a real estate or real property attorney in Little Rock, Conway, or Hot Springs, it’s time to call Davidson Law Firm. We’re here to help.