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Real estate law: the basics

Land at, below and above the earth’s surface, as well as all things permanently attached to it, whether man-made or natural, are referred to as real estate. It can be classified according to its general use, such as commercial, residential, industrial or any other purpose. The law that governs how one acquires real estate and what one can do with it is called real estate law or real property law. Here is what you need to know about real estate law.

A deed

A deed is a form of commitment to something that is legally binding. When it comes to real estate law, a deed gives someone a legal right to legal property. It transfers ownership of or an interest in real property. This document is usually signed by the previous owner and the new owner, thus legally transferring ownership to the new owner.

A quit claim deed or a warranty deed may be used to transfer property ownership. The kind of deed that you implement is important to the type of purchase that you make when you want to acquire property. When purchasing property, warranty deeds are much safer because the grantor guarantees that the title deed is free of any claims and that the new owner can sell or transfer it to another party. On the other hand, a quit claim just transfers the real estate property rights but does not guarantee the validity of the title, claim, or interest.

Zoning in real estate

As mentioned above, the law governs what one can do with real estate property. This could include the types of homes or businesses that are permitted in a given area. As a form of planning and control mechanism, municipal or local laws and regulations may be put in place regarding how real property can and cannot be used in certain geographic areas. A significant restriction on property use is what’s referred to as zoning.

Taxes in real estate

Taxes are imposed on real estate property, and it is the owner’s responsibility to pay the imposed tax. The amount of tax is calculated by the local government based on where the property is located and its value. Disagreements and disputes may arise over the amount of property tax imposed. One can always appeal or challenge it through legal proceedings and tax appeal boards. Failure to pay real estate taxes may put you at risk of mortgage liens or foreclosure.

Property leasing and renting

Occupying a property or piece of land does not guarantee that you are the owner of that particular property. An agreement may be established between the owner of the property and the person who intends to occupy or use the property. When it is for a short period of time—usually 30 days—a rental agreement is used, while a lease contract is applied for a long period, such as a one-year period.

These definitions can help you navigate conversations with your lawyer regarding real estate law as it applies to you and your property.