Real Estate Law Defined

Landlords, homebuyers and home sellers, and renters and others who use real estate directly or indirectly, are affected by real estate law. There are many real estate statutes at the state and federal levels. Real estate can be residential or commercial. You may own it, or let it be used by someone else through rental agreements.

You can also transfer land between relatives through estate planning, or it may be owned by more than one person. Because of its high price, many local laws ensure that real estate transactions are correctly performed and recorded.

If you are considering buying or selling any kind of real estate, experienced  Tacoma real estate attorneys can help your sort through what can be more complicated than first expected.

Areas that are Covered by Real Estate Law

Selling or Buying a House

The rules for residential property sales and purchase are governed by the laws of the federal government, the states and cities. Real estate laws protect potential buyers from unscrupulous sellers trying to misrepresent property. They also protect the environment from any buyer who would like to make changes that could be detrimental to the land and natural environment.

Landlord and Tenant Law

The rules for leasing apartments and tenants are also governed by real property laws. Real estate laws govern all aspects of tenant agreements, forms, eviction rules and whether a property can be considered habitable.

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How foreclosures are handled is determined by real estate laws. Many federal real estate laws impact the entire foreclosure process. These laws include administrative and financial details.

Laws Governing Land Use

Real estate laws govern how a piece can be used. Are the properties zoned residential, commercial, and industrial? Can land be changed from one type of zoning to another? How about development at a university? In certain circumstances, can zoning rules temporarily be waived? These are all determined by the laws governing real estate.


Real estate law determines where construction can take place and what type of buildings can be constructed. Real estate law also sets the building codes that all new construction must comply with. Real estate law regulates the punishment for violators of building and construction codes.


Mortgages are granted to residential and commercial property buyers under real estate law.

Title and Boundary

Property law regulates disputes over who owns a property, and what the property’s boundaries are. These disputes and code violations are quite common and can have a significant impact on the housing association as well as the community.

Property taxes

The amount homeowners pay in property taxes is determined by real property law.

The Role of a Real Estate Attorney

A real estate lawyer is someone who can deal with real property legal issues. Real estate attorneys also have a good knowledge of federal real estate laws and real estate statutes.

For real estate deals, a real estate is needed because:

  • They can handle legal issues when they arise. This is particularly important for complex real estate transactions. It is smart to have a real estate lawyer on hand in case of any problems.
  • Client information must be kept confidential. Real estate lawyers are required to protect client information. This is especially important for real estate transactions where privacy is highly valued.
  • They are familiar with real estate law. A real estate attorney can review all contracts to protect everyone and make it easier for everyone.
  • Sellers can also be assisted by real estate lawyers, who can help them understand the tax implications of selling their property.

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Hiring a Real Estate Attorney

While most real estate attorneys are paid per hour, some may charge a flat rate. A real estate attorney’s hourly or flat fee can vary depending on where they are located and their experience. However, it will also depend on the complexity of a client’s real property transaction or legal issue.

Important Real Estate Law Terms

Escrow- A third party entity that can hold property or money.

Real Estate Agent- A licensed professional who can negotiate real estate transactions. Real estate agents must follow certain rules in order to do business.

Title- The rights that someone has to a property.

Hypothec Mortgage – A loan that is long term and given to someone who wants to buy a property. The property is used as collateral in a mortgage.

Closing- An event where property is transferred from one party to the next.

Foreclosure- The process by which a mortgage lender takes possession of a property because it has not paid a loan.

Quitclaim Deed- This legal instrument is used to transfer ownership of a property to another person.

Warranty Deed – This legal instrument guarantees that the title to a property is unencumbered.

Real estate law protects one of your most valuable assets.

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