Saturday, January 13, 2007

Historical background of real estate

History of the wordThe word 'real' in the context of 'real estate' is not the opposite of 'unreal' but is in fact derived from the same source as the word 'royal'. An illustration of this is found today in the name of soccer team Real Madrid, meaning Royal Madrid.
Interpretations varyWhen the word 'real' was originally used in conjunction with the word 'property', it had the literal meaning under common law of royal property. Translated for application in the United Kingdom today, this term refers to Crown property (since the real property rights of the British Royal Family were amended under the Act of Settlement.) However, since Scotland is not a common law jurisdiction, its strict interpretation today differs from that of its application to England and Wales and other localities where common law does apply.
Within international jurisdictions, such as those states of the United States where common law is applicable (and not all states are common law states), the term refers to both the land owned by the federal government; land owned by the state; land owned by Indian tribes (where applicable), and the land owned by individuals and companies within that state. This is in contrast to all other property in such states which is then deemed to be 'personal' property.
Even when common law is the governing law, interpretations of real property under common law vary according to the jurisdiction.

DefinitionsAn important area of real immovable property are the definitions of estates in land. These are various interests that may limit the ownership rights one has over the land. The most common and perhaps most absolute type of estate is the fee simple which signifies that the owner has the right to dispose of the property as she/he sees fit. Other estates include the life estate where the owner's rights to the property cease at their death and fee tail estates where the property at the time of death passes to the heirs of the body (i.e. children, grandchildren, descendants) of the owner of the estate before he died.