Estate planning involves a lot of similar terms that can seem to have the same meaning, but oftentimes have essential, even if slight, differences. Real property can be confused with both personal property and real estate, none of which mean quite the same thing. To learn more about these differences, keep reading.
Understanding Real Property
While terms like “real property”, “personal property”, “real estate”, and even “land” can all be used in similar contexts, understanding their differences is important. In legal contexts specifically, knowing what each term entails is vital in communicating clearly. Real property is sometimes used less frequently, and therefore understood less. Knowing these distinctions can help you better communicate and ensure you understand your property rights when purchasing, selling, or transferring property.
Real Estate vs Real Property
The difference between real estate and real property may seem subtle but is important when understanding your property rights. Real estate is generally understood as the physical land, structures, resources, and improvements made on that land that one owns. These improvements and structures may be natural or man-made. For example, buildings and sidewalks would be considered part of the real estate, as would its trees and water. This remains true for both residential and commercial real estate.
On the other hand, real property includes all of the aforementioned items but also includes property rights. This refers to a bundle of ownership and usage rights according to the owned real estate. Those rights might include the right to occupy the property, to determine how it is sold, how to use the property and to refuse others’ interests in the property. These rights are all considered real property.
Personal Property vs Real Property vs Fixtures
As established in the previous section, real property includes the land, buildings, structures, and rights of a property. On the other hand, personal property is tangible property that can be moved. It is therefore not part of real property, since it is not a permanent structure on that land. This might include furniture, vehicles, clothing, and other personal items.
If you wish to make personal property a part of the real property, you must add it as a permanent fixture. For example, a blow-up pool would be personal property because it is temporary and moveable. However, an in-ground pool would be part of the real property since it is permanent and increases the property’s value.
This distinction is important because personal property encompasses everything that a previous owner has the right to take with them when they move from the land, while the real property, as part of the estate, will remain.
If you still have questions about real property or need assistance in any area of estate planning, please contact Ward, Shindle & Hall for more information.