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Real Estate Encyclopedia | Property Law Dictionary | Real Estate Terms | Meanings & Definitions |      Oct 19, 2017


I started assembling material for this book over 30 years ago and its original purpose was primarily definitional, but with an eye to explaining the full significance of the many words and phrases used in real estate and to act as a source for further reference. It has now been expanded well beyond that point, but three aims remain: (i) to provide a clear and precise explanation of the meaning of a particular word or phrase (although legal and technical explanations proliferate, every effort has been made to avoid as far as possible the jargon or the cumbersome phraseology that has grown up in this subject since the Middle Ages); (ii) to help the user find an answer to many of the questions that occur in real estate today (if not directly, then by a ready reference to other sources); and (iii) to point out where a problem might occur upon which, when required, further advice and counsel should be sought.

The second edition (produced some 14 years after the first) continues to be definitional, but it goes much further. It chronicles that which has been said relating to a particular Term — or, to be more precise, over 8,000 Terms — with extensive cross-referencing. In that respect it is a dictionary, with an integral thesaurus. In addition, the text sets out many of the aspects of real estate that follow from the explanation (and full understanding) of the meaning and significance of a particular word or phrase; endeavoring to suggest answers to many of the questions that arise on a given subject. Thus, it is a comprehensive reference book on real estate — a dictionary, a thesaurus and an Encyclopedia, rolled into one. It provides a road map from the definition, through an explanation of many related issues, to a series of further sources of information (see "User Guide"). In total, there are more than 11,000 references (including over 3,900 cases, 2,100 statutory or code references and 4,750 bibliographical references), giving the user an ample supply of ready sources for further research.

This edition is weighted towards North America; but this is balanced by European material, especially where the historical aspects are of paramount importance to realizing how real estate is understood and practised today. Thus, in some respects it brings together terminology that has partially (but by no means totally) diverged over the years. In addition, material is included from Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, India and New Zealand — especially by the use of legal cases that reinforce material from English common law. The need for an explanation of the feudal aspects of land law is painful, but essential. Painful in that it takes up much valuable space, but essential for without it much of the remaining space would be virtually inexplicable or obsolete. A rock endures longer than the body. Much of the terminology used in real estate today comes down through a chain of Roman, Norman, civil, ecclesiastical, common, equitable, and administrative law, well laced with major statutory reforms (such as the English Law of Property Acts of 1922-1925), or the influence of the "Restatements of the Law" as adopted and promulgated by The American Law Institute, which have sought to simplify and clarify the feudal vestiges of real property law. Nonetheless, many terms can only be fully understood by reference to such sources, especially the common law as developed in England; a system of law that has evolved for nearly 1,000 years and has indelibly stamped its mark on the real property law of Great Britain, the United States and most Commonwealth countries.

Real estate is not just about law. It is about land and buildings, the buying and selling, debt and equity (in the monetary sense), development and planning, as well as surveying and measuring. It is concerned with state powers and private rights; rural and urban land use; mortgages and liens; that which is above, as well as below, the surface of the earth; the safety and well being of those who enter and use land (and everything that is a part thereof); the value of land (and the miscellany of ways at arriving at such value); the return on the investment in land; the financing of land and its improvements; the insurance of property; securitization of real estate; as well as taxation and other forms of state intervention that impinge on the use of real estate.

Every effort has been made to distinguish between the different sources, so that the user may readily go to a source that is relevant to his area of practice or concern. Thus, material is included from a wide range of sources (especially American, Australian, Canadian, English, French, New Zealand) to demonstrate the evolution and current usage of a particular Term and to show up similarities and differences in the application of a word or phrase in various jurisdictions (and to assist those who practice in the increasingly international business of real estate investment).

It is hoped that the contents will be of use to a broad audience (from students to teachers and from lay people to professional practitioners), but at the same time it is intended that the extensive reference material will be of assistance to the specialist user in further research and debate. Material is included to show the evolution of a word, phrase, or issue and such material is then supported by more references on the subject. The aim is to explain the significance of a word or phrase in the broadest possible way, rather than becoming too embroiled in the minutiae—although minutiae there is.

As far as possible (given the extent of the material), entries are current as at the end of 2007. Every care has been taken to ensure accuracy. However, the author accepts full responsibility for any errors and omissions in the text. Any comments, corrections or suggestions are always welcome.

© 2009-2011 Delta Alpha Publishing