Real Estate Basics

Real Estate Basics

Real estate is a term used to describe land and improvements on land. Title is the term used to define ownership and other property interests in real estate. Title to land can be divided among several persons or entities and divided among different parts and rights to the property. For example, you and your spouse may own your house together, meaning you both have an interest in the property, and your mortgage company, though not having the right to occupy your property, can come in and take over your title (foreclose) if you do not pay your mortgage. While you may own your lot, your local utility company may own an easement interest across your property for delivery of water, power, gas, etc.

Interests in real estate are most typically conveyed by deed. A deed is a legal document containing certain required provisions to effectively transfer title to property. Read more about deeds:

Sometimes, interests in real estate can also be acquired in other ways, such as adverse possession, prescriptive title, and condemnation. Title by adverse possession and prescription arise where another’s use of your property continues in a specific way for a certain period of time (usually 7 to 20 years) that the user actually develops a legal property interest in your land. Condemnation refers to the right of the government to take your property from you and use that property for some public purpose (often public utilities or roads).

Land surveys are used to locate, describe, and map the boundaries and corners of a parcel of land. Surveys can also depict the topography of a parcel and the locations of buildings, utility easements, roads, and rivers on the property. Survey refers to the process, and the finished product is a drawing called a plat. Plats are recorded like deeds in the Clerk’s Office of county Superior Court.

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