What Is Real Estate Law?

Real estate law covers a wide range of topics and issues. It determines how a homeowner can sell their property, where construction may take place and what codes builders must follow.


It can also help a couple decide whether to own their home as tenants by the entirety or joint tenancy with right of survivorship. Attorneys also work with homeowners associations to create, challenge and enforce restrictions.

Ownership Issues

Property law covers a vast array of issues regarding the rights to possess, transfer and use land and permanent manmade additions attached to it. It also includes chattels, movables that are not fixed to the ground and the materials below the surface.

Real estate laws govern the rules governing the sale, purchase and lease of properties like homes, businesses and commercial land. It can also cover restrictions and zoning issues on property use. A good attorney can help you understand your legal options when dealing with real estate law matters.

For example, a lawyer can explain how the law applies to homeowners association rules and laws on housing discrimination. They can also assist with real estate financing and deed issues. They can work on disputes over the ownership of property, including those between married couples or relatives. The law also deals with evictions and foreclosures. It can even apply to landlord and tenant law, with tenancy agreements and stipulations for tenants. It can even deal with environmental contamination that a previous owner or operator caused.


Along with ownership issues, real estate law governs how land can be used. For example, real estate laws determine whether a property can be used for residential, commercial or industrial purposes. They also decide how a property can be rezoned. These restrictions are often regulated by local government agencies or homeowners association rules. Real estate attorneys can help clients challenge or enforce these restrictions.

Real estate laws can also affect foreclosures. For instance, laws can stipulate how much notice a homeowner must receive before foreclosure can occur. They can also regulate how quickly a lender can sell a property to recover its debt. Real estate attorneys can also advise homeowners or lenders on mortgages and other real estate financing options.

Finally, real estate laws often dictate how real estate contracts must be written. In most states, a real estate contract must be in writing and signed by the parties in order to be enforceable. These contracts must also comply with the state’s statute of frauds. This can include regulations surrounding tenant and landlord agreements, eviction rules and what constitutes a valid signature.


Purchasing and selling real estate is one of the most significant financial commitments individuals and businesses may make. A real estate attorney can help ensure sales and purchase documents are properly drafted, negotiated and understood. In the event of mortgage fraud, housing discrimination or eviction, a lawyer can also protect clients and their property rights through litigation.

Many governments levy property tax on real estate. This typically consists of a tax base that is calculated by multiplying a property’s cadastral value (or its theoretical rental value) by a tax rate that is voted each year. Various techniques can be used to determine this value, including recent comparable property sales, original or replacement cost and the depreciation of improvements.

Although homeowners enter into association agreements voluntarily, disagreements can still arise about restrictions and covenants. Lawyers can represent homeowner associations as a whole or individual homeowners to create, challenge and enforce these types of restrictions. They can also help homeowners or business owners obtain tax exemptions.

Association Agreements

Homeowner associations are common in some planned communities and bind homeowners to the rules and fees that govern living there. Real estate law determines how these organizations operate and whether they can enforce a homeowner’s contract against those who don’t pay association fees.

Real property law also decides what kinds of alterations can be made to land and how long people may occupy it. It can also affect debates over environmental protection, historic preservation and construction safety. This area of law also includes landlord and tenant laws, evictions and how foreclosures are handled.

Other facets of real property law deal with things like property financing, titles, purchase financing and zoning. All of these issues are determined by state and federal real estate statutes that can vary widely. An attorney can help clients navigate these statutes and draft contracts that protect them from potential hiccups in the future. These attorneys can also work with lenders and buyers to ensure all required documents are in order for a sale to go through smoothly. They can also negotiate if a problem arises.


Deeds are legal documents that transfer ownership of real property. Real property includes land and anything attached to it, such as buildings. A deed must be in writing and identify the grantor and the grantee (the seller and buyer). It also must include an adequate description of the property. Deeds can be official, or private. Official deeds are those that are executed as a result of a court or legal ruling. Private deeds are those that are executed through a deal between individuals or businesses.

Different types of deeds offer varying levels of protection for the person receiving the property. For example, a general warranty deed guarantees that the property is free of debts and liens. A quitclaim deed, on the other hand, offers no such guarantee.

Our firm can help you understand the different ways that a property can be transferred and advise on which type of deed is appropriate for your situation. We can also assist with drafting deeds and filing correction deeds that remedy errors in previously filed deeds. Finally, we can advise you on whether a deed transfer will violate any due on sale clauses in a mortgage.