Definition of Real Property

The words “land” and “real estate” or “real property” actually mean different things.   

“Land” is the earth’s surface, which extends below the earth’s surface and up into the sky. It includes objects that naturally occur on the land, like water, trees, boulders, and even minerals below the surface.  

The term “real estate” or “real property” means the land plus anything growing on it, attached to it or erected on it, including man-made objects, such as buildings, structures, roads, sewers, and fences, but excluding anything that may be removed from the land without injury to the land.  These man-made objects are called “improvements.” If real estate has nothing on it, and is just vacant land, it is called “unimproved.”   

The term “personal property” means property that is moveable and not permanently fixed to the real property. Personal property in a real estate context is frequently referred to as furniture, fixtures and equipment (“F F & E”). Sometimes, personal property can become part of the real property by being attached to it, which is then referred to as a “fixture” on the real property. Fixtures can be removeable or permanent. Permanent fixtures are usually part of a structure on the real property and are considered to be part of the real property. Examples of permanent fixtures include heating systems, plumbing, lighting, and cabinetry. 

Legal Editors: Terrence Dunn and Ira H. Goldfarb, July 2017

Changes may occur in this area of law. The information provided is brought to you as a public service with the help and assistance of volunteer legal editors, and is intended to help you better understand the law in general. It is not intended to be legal advice regarding your particular problem or to substitute for the advice of a lawyer.

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