Real property can be held in various forms of ownership. The most common forms are tenancy in common, joint tenancy, and tenancy by the entirety. Ten states recognize the community property form of ownership.
In selling real property, various common-law and statutory provisions come into play. Among the more important statutory provisions are the Civil Rights Acts of 1866 and 1968. These laws control the manner in which property may be listed and prohibit discrimination in sales. Sellers and buyers must also be mindful of contract and agency principles governing the listing agreement. Whether the real estate broker has an exclusive right to sell, an exclusive agency, or an open listing will have an important bearing on the fee to which the broker will be entitled when the property is sold.
The Statute of Frauds requires contracts for the sale of real property to be in writing. Such contracts must include the names of buyers and sellers, a description of the property, the price, and signatures. Unless the contract states otherwise, the seller must deliver marketable title, and the buyer will bear the loss if the property is damaged after the contract is signed but before the closing. The seller will usually insist on being paid earnest money, and the buyer will usually protect himself contractually against certain contingencies, such as failure to obtain financing. The contract should also specify the type of deed to be given to the buyer.
To provide protection to subsequent buyers, most states have enacted recording statutes that require buyers to record their purchases in a county office. The statutes vary: which of two purchasers will prevail depends on whether the state has a notice, notice-race, or race statute. To protect themselves, buyers usually purchase an abstract and opinion or title insurance. Although sale is the usual method of acquiring real property, it is possible to take legal title without the consent of the owner. That method is adverse possession, by which one who openly, continuously, and exclusively possesses property and asserts his right to do so in a manner hostile to the interest of the owner will take title in twenty years in most states.
A contract for a sale of property must include
If real property is damaged after a contract for sale is signed but before closing, it is generally true that the party bearing the loss is
The following deeds extend warranties to the buyer:
Under a notice-race statute,
The elements of adverse possession do not include