Real estate refers to land, as well as anything permanently attached to the land, such as buildings and other structures, and covers more than just the drafting of contracts for the purchase and sale of property. Both federal and state laws regulate real estate transactions. The Federal Fair Housing Act, for example, prohibits discrimination in real estate transactions on account of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Many states have enacted similar legislation that prohibits discrimination on the basis of certain characteristics.
Attorneys in this field may handle leasing issues, landlord-tenant disputes, eviction proceedings and homeowner association (HOA) problems. Other matters within this practice area include title disputes, mortgages, covenants, easements, and equitable servitudes. Many real estate issues can affect both commercial and individual renters and landlords. Real estate lawyers who represent commercial interests may also focus on land use, zoning, environmental law, or eminent domain issues.
Some states provide a certification for lawyers who have demonstrated experience and competency in the practice of real estate law. These attorneys must meet certain educational, experience, and examination requirements to receive the certification as a specialist.
Deed: The legal document that transfers the ownership of real property from one party to another.
Mortgage: A mortgage is a document signed by a borrower when a loan is made that gives the lender a right to take possession of the property if the borrower fails to repay the loan.