What is Real Estate Law, Anyway?

By January 13, 2020 Real Estate
What is Real Estate Law, Anyway?

It may seem obvious to most what real estate law is, or what it should be, but when people stop to think about it often they realize that they don’t know the whole story. First things first: “real estate,” or “real property,” refers to land and buildings (or edifices) that sit on it. Real estate law, therefore, is the set of laws and customs governing who may live on, work on, use, or pass across a particular plot of land or building, and, further, who may sell or buy it, and under what conditions.

Sounds simple enough, doesn’t it? But the fact is that real estate law is a remarkably complex area of law. For one thing, real estate can be broken into residential and commercial law (both of which we practice here at Provident Law). Land may be owned by a single person or entity but used by someone else (or many other people) via leasing or rental agreements. It may be owned by multiple people, under a startling number of different modes of ownership recognized by law. And, though people spend loads of money to own a parcel of land, that land may be taken ownership of through “squatter’s rights” (though it takes decades for that to happen), which is simply living there and treating it as though it were one’s own—not secretly, but openly. Yet an owner of real property does possess the right under law (subject to landlord-tenant laws that mediate this right) to restrict and evict people from the use or presence on their property, so squatters only manage to gain ownership over land that the more formal owners are not paying enough attention to.

But what about the word “real?” What makes land “real?”

The term “real property” is derived from property rights created and established during the feudal period of European history. All land in a kingdom used to belong to the king—and the rights for those subordinate to the king (in other words: everyone else) to use it were determined from the monarch’s central authority.When the land was subdivided into feudal plots, its legitimacy of use rested in the rights and powers of a king.In Spanish, the word real means “royal.”

This, in part, is why the use of land depends so much on who has owned it in the past, and what the land has been previously used and earmarked for—though in Arizona this is less of a going concern than in parts east with deeper histories of land ownership under this system. This, in and of itself, is a complex matter that stirs up numerous issues.

If you’re looking to engage with the real estate market in Scottsdale or anywhere else in the state of Arizona, you’ll need an experienced attorney with strong scruples on your side to help you gain clear title and help mitigate risks. Provident Law’s real estate attorneys represent parties on either side of real estate and financing transactions, including buyers, sellers, landlords, tenants, lenders, borrowers, trustees, guarantors, shareholders, partners, and others. We structure, negotiate and document a variety of real estate and financing transactions, such as leases, purchase and sale agreements, loans and development agreements for a variety of commercial and residential projects. Contact us for more details.

Christopher J. Charles is the founder and Managing Partner of Provident Law ®. He is a State Bar Certified Real Estate Specialist and a former “Broker Hotline Attorney” for the Arizona Association of REALTORS ® (the “AAR”). Mr. Charles holds the AV ® Preeminent Rating by the Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review Ratings system which connotes the highest possible rating in both legal ability and ethical standards. He serves as an Arbitrator and Mediator for the AAR regarding real estate disputes; and he served on the State Bar of Arizona’s Civil Jury Instructions Committee where he helped draft the Agency Instructions and the Residential Landlord/Tenant Eviction Jury Instructions.

Christopher is a licensed Real Estate Instructor and he teaches continuing education classes at the Arizona School of Real Estate and Business. He can be reached at Chris@ProvidentLawyers.com or at 480-388-3343.