What is Real Estate
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 stationary, or fixed in location. Real estate is often considered synonymous with real property (also sometimes called realty), in contrast with personal property (also sometimes called chattel or personalty). 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.
The terms real estate and real property are used primarily in common law, while civil law jurisdictions refer instead to immovable property.
The legal arrangement for the right to occupy a dwelling is known as the housing tenure. Types of housing tenure include owner occupancy, Tenancy, housing cooperative, condominiums (individually parceled properties in a single building), public housing, and squatting. Variants include timeshares and cohousing.
Residences can be classified by if and how they are connected to neighboring residences and land. Different types of housing tenure can be used for the same physical type. For example, connected residents 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.
Major physical categories in North America and Europe include:
Attached / multi-unit dwellings
Apartment (“flat” outside North America) – 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 apartment buildings.
Multi-family house – Often seen in multi-story detached buildings, where each floor is a separate apartment or unit.
Terraced house (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.
Condominium – Building or complex, similar to apartments, owned by individuals. Common grounds are owned and shared jointly. There are townhouse or rowhouse style condominiums as well.
Duplex – Two units with one shared wall.
Single-family detached home
Mobile homes – Potentially a full-time residence which can be (might not in practice be) movable on wheels.
Houseboats – A floating home
Tents – Usually very 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 reports the area of the walls enclosing the home, and thus includes any attached garage and non-living spaces.
It can also be described more roughly by the number of rooms. A studio apartment 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 also common. (A bedroom is defined as a room with a closet for clothes storage.)
See List of house types for a complete listing of housing types and layouts, real estate trends for shifts in the market and house or home for more general information.