5 Real Estate Law Terms You Need to Understand

Written By Alla Levin
August 08, 2022
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5 Real Estate Law Terms You Need to Understand

Real estate law is a complex and ever-changing area of the law. It can be challenging to keep up with all the changes, let alone understand them. However, it is essential to have at least a basic understanding of real estate law to protect yourself and your property. Here are five terms you should know:

Zoning Ordinances

Zoning ordinances are local laws that regulate how the land can be used. They dictate how many homes can be built on a property, what types of businesses can operate there, and more. It’s essential to know about zoning ordinances before you buy or sell property, as they can significantly impact the value of the land.

To understand zoning ordinances, working with a real estate attorney or another professional familiar with your area’s laws is helpful. You can also research the rules yourself, but it’s essential to ensure you read the most up-to-date information.

Here are a few resources that can help you learn more about zoning ordinances:

  • The National Conference of State Legislatures has a helpful overview of zoning laws.
  • The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development offers an online tool to search for local zoning ordinances.
  • Your state or local government website may also have information about zoning ordinances.

EasementsReal Estate Law Terms

With an easement, one party has the right to use another party’s land for a specific purpose. An easement, for instance, can let a utility provider to traverse your land with power lines. Easements are created in various ways but most commonly arise from express agreements between the parties or by prescription (when the easement is used for a long enough period, it is considered “prescribed” by law).

Easements can impact the use and value of your property, so it’s essential to be aware of them before you buy or sell land. You can check for easements by ordering a title search from your local land registry office. Not only will this provide you with a list of any easements on the property, but it will also give you information on the associated rights and restrictions.

Restrictive Covenants

A restrictive covenant is a type of agreement that limits how you can use your property. For example, a restrictive covenant may prohibit you from building a certain type of structure on your land or using it for commercial purposes. Restrictive covenants are typically found in homeowner’s association (HOA) bylaws or other agreements you enter when purchasing the property.

It’s essential to be aware of any restrictive covenants that apply to your property before you purchase it, as they can limit what you can do with the property in the future. You can typically find restrictive covenants in the public records for your property. Also, review any HOA bylaws or other agreements you sign when you purchase the property, as they may contain restrictive covenants.

MortgagesReal Estate Law Terms Adverse Possession

A mortgage is a loan that’s used to finance the purchase of a property. The loan is secured by the property, which means the lender can take possession of the property if you default on the loan. Mortgages are typically paid back over 15 to 30 years.

If you’re buying a property, you’ll likely need a mortgage to finance the purchase. Understanding how mortgages work before entering one is essential, as they can be a complex financial transaction.

You can learn more about mortgages by speaking with a loan officer; these people work for banks and other financial institutions that offer mortgages. You can also find a lot of helpful information online, including on the websites of government agencies such as the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Real Estate Law Terms: Adverse Possession

Adverse possession is a legal doctrine allowing someone to gain land ownership by occupying it for a specific period. To successfully claim adverse possession, the occupant must meet specific requirements, such as living on the land for a certain number of years and paying taxes on the property.

Adverse possession can be a complicated legal doctrine, so it’s essential to consult with an attorney if you’re considering claiming it. You can also research your state’s laws to understand better how adverse possession works.

These are just a few of the real estate law terms you need to understand before buying or selling a property. Be sure to do your research and consult with an attorney if you have any questions. With a bit of knowledge, you can help ensure the transaction goes smoothly and avoid any legal pitfalls.

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