Real estate is a legal term (in some jurisdictions, notably in the USA, United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia) that encompasses land along with anything permanently affixed to the land, such as buildings, specifically property that is fixed in location. Real estate law is the body of regulations and legal codes which pertain to such matters under a particular jurisdiction. Real estate is often considered synonymous with real property (also sometimes called realty), in contrast with personal property (also sometimes called chattel or personalty under chattel law or personal property law).
However, in some situations the term "real estate" refers to the land and fixtures together, as distinguished from "real property," referring to ownership rights of the land itself.[clarification needed]
Real estate in Mexico and Central America
The real estate business in Mexico and Central America is different from the way that it is conducted in the United States.
Some similarities include a variety of legal formalities (with professionals such as real estate agents generally employed to assist the buyer); taxes need to be paid (but typically less than those in U.S.); legal paperwork will ensure title; and a neutral party such as a title company will handle documentation and monies in order to smoothly make the exchange between the parties. Increasingly, U.S. title companies are doing work for U.S. buyers in Mexico and Central America.
Prices are often much cheaper than most areas of the U.S., but in many locations prices of houses and lots are as expensive as the U.S., one example being Mexico City. U.S. banks have begun to give home loans for properties in Mexico, but, so far, not for other Latin American countries.
One important difference from the United States is that each country has rules regarding where foreigners can buy. For example, in Mexico, foreigners cannot buy land or homes within 50 km of the coast or 100 km from a border unless they hold title in a Mexican Corporation or a Fideicomiso (a Mexican trust). In Honduras, however, they may buy beach front property directly in their name. There are also different special rules regarding certain types of property: ejidal land – communally held farm property – can only be sold after a lengthy entitlement process, but that does not prevent them from being offered for sale.
Many websites advertising and selling Mexican and Central American real estate exist, but they may need to be researched.
In Costa Rica, real estate agents do not need a license to operate, but the transfer of property requires a lawyer.
With the development of private property ownership, real estate has become a major area of business. Purchasing real estate requires a significant investment, and each parcel of land has unique characteristics, so the real estate industry has evolved into several distinct fields. Specialists are often called on to valuate real estate and facilitate transactions. Some kinds of real estate businesses include:
- Appraisal: Professional valuation services
- Brokerages: A fee charged by the mediator who facilitates a real estate transaction between the two parties.
- Development: Improving land for use by adding or replacing buildings
- Property management: Managing a property for its owner(s)
- Real estate marketing: Managing the sales side of the property business
- Real estate investing: Managing the investment of real estate
- Relocation services: Relocating people or business to a different country
- Corporate Real Estate: Managing the real estate held by a corporation to support its core business—unlike managing the real estate held by an investor to generate income
Within each field, a business may specialize in a particular type of real estate, such as residential, commercial, or industrial property. In addition, almost all construction business effectively has a connection to real estate.
"Internet Real Estate" is a term coined by the internet investment community relating to ownership of domain names and the similarities between high quality internet domain names and real-world, prime real estate.