The UK has estate agents; in the US and other countries such as Australia and New Zealand the people who facilitate the buying and selling of land and buildings are often referred to as realtors. In the UK we talk about ‘property’, meaning land and houses, in the US it is known as ‘real estate’.
In the US, real estate lawyers handle the legal transference of land and property from one owner to another, while in the UK house sales practitioners are known as residential conveyancing solicitors, property lawyers, house sales solicitors etc.
We all know that American English can be different to UK English, but why is the term for land, and the buildings on said land, so varied?
In English common law, land and the buildings put upon them or improvements made to the land are known as real property. Personal property is, collectively, the moveable items or chattels belonging to a person. Real property and personal property are the two main subunits of English and Welsh property law.
The term ‘real’ as used in ‘real estate’ emanates from Old French reelmeaning “relating to things”, but it also has roots in Late Latin, from realis, meaning “actual” and from Latin res meaning “matter, thing” as distinguished from a person.
In the UK ‘real property’ is often just shortened to ‘property’, and can be distinguished by the terms residential and commercial to signify property for domestic living and buildings for business and trade.
However, the term real estate is used in probate law, where it is most commonly shortened to simply ‘estate’ whereby it signifies all interests in land held by a person at the time of their death.
It’s easy to see why English speakers in the UK have dropped the term ‘real’ when referring to property. The term residential conveyancing solicitor is probably a better description for the work that lawyers do in this field – they convey the legal interest in land and buildings from one owner to another.
At George Ide LLP our property lawyers are here to make the complex process of buying or selling a home as straightforward and efficient as possible for our clients.
We can help clients from all over the UK and have specialist local knowledge of the market in Chichester, Bognor Regis, and West Sussex.
To discuss your residential conveyancing requirements today, why not call our expert team? You can find out more information by clicking on the profiles featured on the right-hand side of the page, where direct contact details are available for your convenience.