Real estate is property consisting of land and the buildings on it, along with its
Natural resources are resources that are drawn from nature and used with few modifications. This includes the sources of valued characteristics such as commercial and industrial use, aesthetic value, scientific interest and cultural value. O ...
s such as crops, minerals or water; immovable property of this nature; an interest vested in this (also) an item of real property, (more generally) buildings or
Housing, or more generally, living spaces, refers to the construction and housing authority, assigned usage of houses or buildings individually or collectively, for the purpose of Shelter (building), shelter. Housing ensures that members of so ...
["Real estate": Oxford English Dictionary online: Retrieved September 18, 2011]
In terms of law, ''real'' is in relation to land property and is different from personal property while ''estate'' means the "interest" a person has in that land property.
Real estate is different from personal property, which is not permanently attached to the land, such as vehicles, boats, jewelry, furniture, tools and the rolling stock of a
A farm (also called an Agriculture, agricultural holding) is an area of land that is devoted primarily to Agriculture, agricultural processes with the primary objective of producing food and other crops; it is the basic facility in food produ ...
In the United States, the transfer, owning, or acquisition of real estate can be through business corporations, individuals, nonprofit corporations, fiduciaries, or any legal entity as seen within the law of each U.S. state.
History of real estate
The natural right of a person to own property as a concept can be seen as having roots in Roman law as well as Greek philosophy. The profession of appraisal can be seen as beginning in England during the 1500s as agricultural needs required land clearing and land preparation. Textbooks on the subject of surveying began to be written and the term "surveying" was used in England, while the term "appraising" was more used in North America.
Natural law ( la, ius naturale, ''lex naturalis'') is a system of law based on a close observation of human nature, and based on values intrinsic to human nature that can be Deductive reasoning, deduced and applied independently of positive law ( ...
which can be seen as "universal law" was discussed among writers of the 15th and 16th century as it pertained to "property theory" and the inter-state relations dealing with foreign investments and the protection of citizens private property abroad. Natural law can be seen as having an influence in Emerich de Vattel
's 1758 "Law of Nations" which conceptualized the idea of private property.
One of the largest initial real estate deals in history known as the "
The Louisiana Purchase (french: Vente de la Louisiane, translation=Sale of Louisiana) was the acquisition of the Louisiana (New France), territory of Louisiana by the United States from the French First Republic in 1803. In return for fifteen ...
happened in 1803 when the Louisiana Purchase Treaty was signed. This treaty paved the way for western expansion and made the U.S. the owners of the "
The Territory of Louisiana or Louisiana Territory was an organized incorporated territory of the United States that existed from July 4, 1805, until June 4, 1812, when it was renamed the Missouri Territory. The territory was formed out of the ...
" as the land was bought from France for fifteen million, making each acre roughly 4 cents. The oldest real estate brokrage firm was established in 1855 in Chicago, Illinois, and was initially known as "L. D. Olmsted & Co." but is now known as "Baird & Warner." In 1908, the National Association of Realtors
was founded in Chicago and in 1916, the name was changed to the National Association of Real Estate Boards and this was also when the term "
A real estate agent or real estate broker is a person who represents sellers or buyers of real estate or real property. While a broker may work independently, an agent usually works under a licensed broker to represent clients. Brokers and agen ...
" was coined to identify real estate professionals.
The stock market crash of 1929 and the Great Depression in the U.S. caused a major drop in real estate worth and prices and ultimately resulted in depreciation of 50% for the four years after 1929. Housing financing in the U.S. was greatly affected by the Banking Act of 1933 and the National Housing Act in 1934 because it allowed for mortgage insurance for home buyers and this system was implemented by the Federal Deposit Insurance as well as the Federal Housing Administration. In 1938, an amendment was made to the National Housing Act and
The Federal National Mortgage Association (FNMA), commonly known as Fannie Mae, is a United States government-sponsored enterprise (GSE) and, since 1968, a publicly traded company. Founded in 1938 during the Great Depression as part of the New ...
, a government agency, was established to serve as a secondary market for mortgages and to give lenders more money in order for new homes to be funded.
Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act in the U.S., which is also known as the Fair Housing Act, was put into place in 1968 and dealt with the incorporation of African Americans into neighborhoods as the issues of discrimination were analyzed with the renting, buying, and financing of homes. Internet real estate
as a concept began with the first appearance of real estate platforms on the World Wide Web and occurred in 1999.
Residential real estate
Residential real estate may contain either a single family or multifamily structure that is available for occupation or for non-business purposes.
Residences can be classified by and how they are connected to neighbouring residences and land. Different types of housing tenure can be used for the same physical type. For example, connected residences might be owned by a single entity and leased out, or owned separately with an agreement covering the relationship between units and common areas and concerns.
According to the Congressional Research Service, in 2021, 65% of homes in the U.S. are owned by the occupier.
* Attached / multi-unit dwellings
An apartment (American English), or flat (British English, Indian English, South African English), is a self-contained housing unit (a type of residential real estate) that occupies part of a building, generally on a single story. There are man ...
(American English) or Flat
(British English) – An individual unit in a multi-unit building. The boundaries of the apartment are generally defined by a perimeter of locked or lockable doors. Often seen in multi-story
An apartment ( American English), or flat ( British English, Indian English, South African English), is a self-contained housing unit (a type of residential real estate) that occupies part of a building, generally on a single story. There ar ...
** Multi-family house
– Often seen in multi-story detached buildings, where each floor is a separate apartment or unit.
In architecture and city planning, a terrace or terraced house (British English, UK) or townhouse (American English, US) is a form of medium-density housing that originated in Europe in the 16th century, whereby a row of attached dwellings party ...
(a.k.a. ''townhouse'' or ''rowhouse'') – A number of single or multi-unit buildings in a continuous row with shared walls and no intervening space.
A condominium (or condo for short) is an ownership structure whereby a building is divided into several units that are each separately owned, surrounded by common areas that are jointly owned. The term can be applied to the building or complex ...
(American English) – A building or complex, similar to apartments, owned by individuals. Common grounds and common areas within the complex are owned and shared jointly. In North America, there are ''townhouse'' or ''rowhouse'' style condominiums as well. The British equivalent is a block of flats.
A cooperative (also known as co-operative, co-op, or coop) is "an autonomy, autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly owned and democratical ...
(a.k.a. co-op) – A type of multiple ownership in which the residents of a multi-unit housing complex own shares in the cooperative corporation that owns the property, giving each resident the right to occupy a specific apartment or unit.
A tenement is a type of building shared by multiple dwellings, typically with flats or apartments on each floor and with shared entrance stairway access. They are common on the British Isles, particularly in Scotland. In the medieval Old Town, E ...
is a type of building shared by multiple dwellings, typically with flats or apartments on each floor and with shared entrance stairway access found in Britain.
A semi-detached house (often abbreviated to semi) is a single family Duplex (building), duplex dwelling house that shares one common party wall, wall with the next house. The name distinguishes this style of house from detached houses, with no sh ...
– Two units with one shared wall.
* Detached dwellings
A bungalow is a small house or cottage that is either single-storey, story or has a second story built into a sloping roof (usually with dormer windows), and may be surrounded by wide verandas.
The first house in England that was classified ...
** Split-level home
A mansion is a large dwelling house. The word itself derives through Old French from the Latin word ''mansio'' "dwelling", an abstract noun derived from the verb ''manere'' "to dwell". The English word ''manse'' originally defined a property la ...
A villa is a type of house that was originally an Ancient Rome, ancient Roman upper class country house. Since its origins in the Roman villa, the idea and function of a villa have evolved considerably. After the fall of the Roman Republic, vi ...
** Detached house
or single-family detached house
A cottage, during Feudalism in England, England's feudal period, was the holding by a cottager (known as a Cotter (farmer), cotter or ''bordar'') of a small house with enough garden to feed a family and in return for the cottage, the cottager ...
* Portable dwellings
A mobile home (also known as a house trailer, park home, trailer, or trailer home) is a prefabrication, prefabricated structure, built in a factory on a permanently attached chassis before being transported to site (either by being towed or o ...
s, tiny homes
, or residential caravan
s – A full-time residence that can be (although might not in practice be) movable on wheels.
A houseboat is a boat
A boat is a watercraft of a large range of types and sizes, but generally smaller than a ship, which is distinguished by its larger size, shape, cargo or passenger capacity, or its ability to carry boats.
s – A floating home
A tent () is a Shelter (building), shelter consisting of sheets of fabric or other material draped over, attached to a frame of poles or a supporting rope. While smaller tents may be free-standing or attached to the ground, large tents are usual ...
s – Usually temporary, with roof and walls consisting only of fabric-like material.
The size of an apartment or house can be described in square feet or meters. In the United States, this includes the area of "living space", excluding the garage and other non-living spaces. The "square meters" figure of a house in Europe may report the total area of the walls enclosing the home, thus including any attached garage and non-living spaces, which makes it important to inquire what kind of surface area definition has been used. It can be described more roughly by the number of rooms. A
A studio apartment, also known as a studio flat (United Kingdom, UK), a self-contained apartment (Nigeria), efficiency apartment, bed-sitter (Kenya) or bachelor apartment, is a small apartment (rarely a condo) in which the normal functions of ...
has a single bedroom with no living room (possibly a separate kitchen). A one-bedroom apartment has a living or dining room separate from the bedroom. Two bedroom, three bedroom, and larger units are common. (A bedroom is a separate room intended for sleeping. It commonly contains a bed and, in newer dwelling units, a built-in closet for clothes storage.)
An igloo (Inuit languages: , Inuktitut syllabics (plural: )), also known as a snow house or snow hut, is a type of shelter built of suitable snow.
Although igloos are often associated with all Inuit, they were traditionally used only b ...
A hut is a small dwelling, which may be constructed of various local materials. Huts are a type of vernacular architecture because they are built of readily available materials such as wood, snow, ice, stone, grass, palm leaves, branches, hid ...
The size of havelis and chawls is measured in Gaz (square yards), Quila, Marla, Beegha, and acre.
See List of house types
for a complete listing of housing types and layouts,
real estate trends
A real estate trend is any consistent pattern or change in the general direction of the real estate industry which, over the course of time, causes a statistically noticeable change. This phenomenon can be a result of the economy, a change in Mortg ...
for shifts in the market, and
A house is a single-unit residential building. It may range in complexity from a rudimentary hut to a complex structure of wood, masonry, concrete or other material, outfitted with plumbing, electrical, and heating, ventilation, and air condit ...
A home, or domicile, is a space used as a permanent or semi-permanent residence for one or many humans, and sometimes various pet, companion animals. It is a fully or semi sheltered space and can have both interior and exterior aspects to ...
for more general information.
Real estate and the environment
Real estate can be valued or devalued based on the amount of
Environmental degradation is the deterioration of the environment (biophysical), environment through depletion of resources such as quality of air, water and soil; the destruction of ecosystems; habitat destruction; the extinction of wildlife; an ...
that has occurred. Environmental degradation can cause extreme health and safety risks. There is a growing demand for the use of site assessments (ESA's)
when valuing a property for both private and commercial real estate.
is made possible by environmental surveyors who examine the environmental factors present within the development of real estate as well as the impacts that development and real estate has on the environment.
is a concept that has grown since the 1970s with the environmental movement and the World Commission on Environment and Development.
Green development examines social and
Environmental issues are Human impact on the environment, effects of human activity on the biophysical environment, Climate change, most often of which are harmful effects that cause environmental degradation. Environmental protection is the prac ...
s with real estate and building. There are 3 areas of focus, being the environmental responsiveness, resource efficiency
, and the sensitivity of cultural and societal aspects. Examples of Green development are
Green infrastructure or blue-green infrastructure refers to a network that provides the “ingredients” for solving urban and climatic challenges by building with nature.Hiltrud Pötz & Pierre Bleuze (2011). Urban green-blue grids for sustainab ...
Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is a Green building certification systems,
green building certification program used worldwide. Developed by the non-profit U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), it includes a set of rating ...
, conservation development
, and sustainability developments.
Real estate in itself has been measured as a contributing factor to the rise in green house gases. According to the International Energy Agency, real estate in 2019 was responsible for 39 percent of total emissions worldwide and 11 percent of those emissions were due to the manufacturing of materials used in buildings.
As an investment
In markets where land and building prices are rising, real estate is often purchased as an investment, whether or not the owner intends to use the property. Often investment properties are rented out, but "
Flipping is a term used to describe purchasing a revenue-generating asset and quickly reselling (or "flipping") it for profit.
Within the real estate industry, the term is used by investors to describe the process of buying, rehabbing, and sell ...
" involves quickly reselling a property, sometimes taking advantage of
In economics and finance, arbitrage (, ) is the practice of taking advantage of a difference in prices in two or more Market (economics), markets; striking a combination of matching deals to capitalise on the difference, the profit being the di ...
or quickly rising value, and sometimes after repairs are made that substantially raise the value of the property.
Luxury real estate is sometimes used as a way to store value, especially by wealthy foreigners, without any particular attempt to rent it out. Some luxury units in London and New York City have been used as a way for corrupt foreign government officials and businesspeople from countries without strong
rule of law
The rule of law is the political philosophy that all citizens and institutions within a country, state, or community are accountable to the same laws, including lawmakers and leaders. The rule of law is defined in the ''Encyclopedia Britannica ...
to launder money
or to protect it from seizure.
* Environmental Surveying
* Green Development
* Phase I environmental site assessment
Commercial real estate
Commercial property, also called commercial real estate, investment property or income property, is real estate (buildings or land) intended to generate a Profit (economics), profit, either from capital gains or Renting, rental income. Commercial ...
An estate is a large parcel of land under single ownership, which would historically generate income for its owner.
In the UK, historically an estate comprises the houses, outbuildings, supporting farmland, and woods that s ...
* Extraterrestrial real estate
* Fractional financing
In real estate, a lot or plot is a tract or parcel of land owned or meant to be owned by some owner(s). A plot is essentially considered a parcel of real property in some countries or immovable property (meaning practically the same thing) in ot ...
* Real estate business
* Real estate economics
Right to property
The right to property, or the right to own property (cf. ownership) is often classified as a human right for natural persons regarding their possessions. A general recognition of a right to private property is found more rarely and is typical ...