The subject of Real Estate Law can be divided into three general categories:
- Real Estate Transactions
- Real Property (Land Law)
- Landlord Law & Tennant Rights
Real estate transaction laws encompass numerous federal statutes as well as state statutory and common law. Requirements set forth in state law usually will vary from state to state. As the seller’s agent, real estate brokers serve as their agents. The broker’s mission is to find a buyer for the seller’s property at the best possible price. The listing agreement is the contract between the seller and broker. An open agreement allows the broker to receive a commission only if he or she finds a buyer for the property.
A listing is considered to be exclusive if there is only one assigned broker that is eligible to receive a commission for finding a buyer. Under an exclusive arrangement a realtor or broker may be entitled to commissions even if the the buyer is located without the assistance of the broker. Real estate brokers and agents are required to be licensed, and are regulated by their local state laws. Professional real estate trade organizations also publish specific guidelines to which their members are expected to comply. The trade organizations may often be used mediate in the case of a dispute with a real estate broker or agent.
The Federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination on the basis or race, color, religion, gender, or national origin in real estate transactions. The act specifically prohibits real estate brokers from discriminating.
Contract law governs the sale agreement between buyers and sellers of real property. Contracts for real property must be written according to the Statute of Frauds.
In real estate contracts, it is usually required that the title to the property be sold is marketable. This means that the seller has proof of title to the property he is selling, and specifies that third parties do not have undisclosed interests (i.e. a property lien) in the title.
The buyer usually uses a title insurer or Real Estate Agent to verify that the title is marketable. The buyer will also be covered by title insurance companies for any losses resulting from the title’s invalidity.
A deed must be executed and delivered in order to transfer title to the property. Some states require that the deed is recorded in order to establish ownership and/or give notice of the transfer to any subsequent buyers.
To transfer the title to the property, a deed must first be executed and delivered. In order to transfer title to the property, some states require that the deed be recorded.
Property signifies dominion or right of use, control, and disposition which one may lawfully exercise over things, objects, or land. One of the basic dividing lines between property is that between real property and personal property. Generally, the term real property refers to land. Land, in its general usage, includes not only the face of the earth but everything of a permanent nature over or under it. This includes structures and minerals.
There are further sub-divisions within the real property category. The most significant are freehold estates, nonfreehold estates, and concurrent estates. (Others include future interests, specialty estates, and incorporeal interests). Freehold estates are those in which an individual has ownership for an indefinite period of time. An example of a freehold estate is the “fee simple absolute”, which is inheritable and lasts as long as the individual and his heirs wants to keep it. Another example is the “life estate”, in which the individual retains possession of the land for the duration of his or her life. Nonfreehold estates are property interests of limited duration. They include tenancy for years, tenancy at will, and tenancy at sufferance. Concurrent estates exist when property is owned or possessed by two or more individuals simultaneously.
Generally, states have exclusive jurisdiction over the land within their borders, and the law concerning the kind of interests that can be held and how they are created is not subject to federal law.
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