What is Real Property?

Cullen P. Watson, Esq.

What is Real Property?  A Legal Definition.


Real Property, Black's Law Dictionary (10th ed. 2014). 


real property (18c) Land and anything growing on, attached to, or erected on it, excluding anything that may be severed without injury to the land. • Real property can be either corporeal (soil and buildings) or incorporeal (easements). — Also termed realty; real estate. Cf. personal property (1).

“Real estate — or, to use the more formal term, real property — means primarily land, and everything which is naturally a part of the land, or is more or less permanently added to it. Trees, mineral deposits, gas and oil wells are all classed as real property so long as they remain a part of the land, but if the trees are cut down or the minerals extracted they cease to be real property and become personalty. Buildings and improvements of all kinds, which are permanent additions to the land upon which they stand, are a part of the real estate.” William J. Grange, Real Estate: A Practical Guide to Ownership, Transfer, Mortgaging, and Leasing of Real Property 3 (1937).

“Historically, the line between real and personal property stems from the types of assets administered on death respectively, in the king's and in the church's courts. The king's courts, concerned with the preservation of the feudal structure, dealt with fees simple, fees tail and life estates. Estates for years, gradually evolving out of contracts made by feudally unimportant persons, clearly became interests in land but never fully attained the historical dignity of being ‘real property.’ The early economic unimportance of money, goods and things other than land permitted the church courts to take over the handling of all such assets on the death of the owner. When the development of trade and of capitalism caused assets of these types to assume great, and sometimes paramount, importance we found ourselves with the two important categories of property, namely ‘real’ and ‘personal’ property, each with its set of rules evolved from a different matrix. The pressure of modern society has been strongly for assimilation and the resultant elimination of this line, but this movement is far from complete attainment of its goal.” 1 Richard R. Powell, Powell on Real Property § 5.04, at 5-7 to 5-8 (Patrick J. Rohan ed., rev. ed. 1998).

Enter verification code: Captcha not loaded