Silicon Valley Business School

Contents of SVBS Course: Real Property

Almost all companies find themselves either leasing or acquiring real estate property. Executives are required to understand their rights and duties with respect to office buildings, leases, land and the principles of real-estate ownership are often applied to other forms of business assets. The U.S. laws of real-estate (real property), are discussed in this module. Topics include the acquisition of real-estate, forms of co-ownership, various forms of ownership estate, encumbrances to clean title, present and future interests, landlord and tenant law.

Learning Objectives and Outcomes

Upon completion of this course you will be able to:

Appreciate the legal framework in the United States governing the ownership of real-state and other property.
Navigate the process of buying or selling real estate.
Understand how ownership can be divided among various co-owners, landlords and tenants.


Course Sections

The course is organized into the following sections:

Real Property: History & Source of U.S. Real Property Law
Real Property: Acquisition
Real Property: Co-Ownership
Real Property: Land Use Laws ~ Limitations & Encumbrances
Real Property: Present & Future Interests
Real Property: Landlord-Tenant
Real Property: Mortgages
Real Property: Trespass

Real Property: History & Source of U.S. Real Property Law
  • Video ~ Real Property -- History
  • This voice narrated slideshow looks at the history and source of Real Property law in the United States.

  • Video ~ Property Law
  • What is property law? This video introduces people's rights concerning land and personal property.

  • Handout ~ Real Property ~ History
  • PDF slides for the learning material titled: "Video ~ Real Property -- History".

  • Reading ~ Real Property (Land Law): An Overview
  • Reading ~ History of Real Estate Law
  • English real-estate law was imported, through colonization, into the earlier forms of law in the U.S.A., Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Many of these states, or their territories, have since modified this historical law, to varying degrees. A study of the old feudal land system of England provides us with an invaluable glimpse of legal history regulating the most valuable asset of them all: land.In medieval times, land was the sole form of wealth.

  • Reading ~ Real Estate Law: Click on "Show More" and read extended introduction to property law.
  • The term real estate generally refers to ownership or use of land. Real estate law is a branch of civil law that covers the right to possess, use, and enjoy land and the permanent man-made additions attached to it.

    Real Property: Acquisition
  • Video ~ Real Property -- Acquisition
  • Handout ~ Real Property ~ Acquisition
  • PDF slides for the learning material titled: "Video ~ Real Property -- Acquisition".

  • Reading ~ Title
  • Reading ~ Property Deeds
  • A deed is a legal instrument that transfers some property right in real estate. This article outlines the most common types of property deeds and how they are typically used.

  • Reading ~ Home Sale Contracts
  • This article explains some of the elements that contracts for the sale of a home must contain, and offers advice on how to get the most favorable contract as a buyer.

  • Reading ~ How Escrow Works
  • A house is the most expensive purchase most people make in their lifetime. Since the purchase is so large, securing funding for your home may take longer than the actual sale. The company that manages the funds for the house until closing is called the "escrow company," "escrow agent," or simply "escrow."

  • Reading ~ Understanding The Closing Process
  • Reading ~ Quitclaim Deed
  • This article gives a brief history of Quitclaim Deeds. It also explains how Quitclaim Deeds differ from General and Special Warranty Deeds.

  • Reading ~ Real Estate Buying-Selling Dictionary
  • This piece explains common words and terms used in typical real estate transactions.

  • Reading ~ Is a Real Estate Agent Required to Sell a Property?
  • This article addresses issues that can help you decide whether or not you need a real estate agent.

  • Reading ~ Adverse Possession
  • Trespassing, the act of entering someone's private property without permission, is illegal. But when a trespasser continues trespassing for an extended period of time, the law may give the trespasser the right to stay on (or pass through) the land. This right is known as "adverse possession".

    Real Property: Co-Ownership
  • Video ~ Real Property -- Co-Ownership
  • Handout ~ Real Property ~ Co-Ownership
  • PDF slides for the learning material titled: "Video ~ Real Property -- Co-Ownership".

  • Reading ~ Types of Home Ownership
  • This article explains the following types of home ownership: Fee Simple, Joint Tenancy with Right of Survivorship, Tenancy in Common, as well as Tenancy in the Entirety.

  • Reading ~ Joint Tenancy
  • What is joint tenancy with rights of survivorship? Can joint tenancy property pass to unintended heirs? Does joint tenancy ownership avoid probate? Can joint tenancy create unintended gift and estate taxes?

  • Reading ~ Difference Between Joint Tenancy and Tenancy in Common
  • This article covers the basic differences between joint tenants and tenants in common.

  • Reading ~ Co-Ownership Via a Living Trust
  • This article discusses the risks involved in joint ownership and how a living trust may be a better option.

    Real Property: Land Use Laws ~ Limitations & Encumbrances
  • Video ~ Real Property -- Limitations & Encumbrances
  • Video ~ What is an Easement?
  • Video explains what an easement is and the different types of easements you may encounter.

  • Video ~ Easement by Necessity
  • What is an easement by necessity? This video introduces circumstances where, after a property is divided, a court may grant a claimant an easement provided he can demonstrate that the easement is necessary.

  • Video ~ Land Use Law and Property Rights
  • Video ~ Eminent Domain & Lawyers Negotiating Just Compensation For Property Holders
  • Video ~ Eminent Domain-A Brief Overview
  • Handout ~ Real Property ~ Limitations & Encumbrances
  • PDF slides for the learning material titled: "Video ~ Real Property -- Limitations & Encumbrances".

  • Reading ~ Laws, Ordinances, and Covenants can all Affect Your Rights as a Homeowner.
  • Reading ~ Land Use Laws
  • Reading ~ Easements
  • An easement is a legal term describing a situation in which someone allows another party to use a portion of land that they legally possess.

  • Reading ~ Easement Basics
  • An easement is commonly defined as a nonpossessory interest in another person's land. Easements are usually created by conveyance in a deed, or some other written document such as a will or contract.

  • Reading ~ Express and Implied Easements
  • A key question in the law of easements is whether the right to use the land (the easement itself) is express or implied. As is explained in more detail in this article, the main difference between the two is that an express easement is created by an agreement or document, while an implied easement arises through certain circumstances.

  • Reading ~ Prescriptive Easements
  • An easement by prescription is one that is gained under principles of a legal concept known as "adverse possession", under which someone other than the original property owner gains use or ownership rights to certain property. Prescriptive easements often arise on rural land when landowners fail to realize part of their land is being used, perhaps by an adjoining neighbor.

  • Reading ~ Affirmative and Negative Easements
  • Reading ~ Preservation Easements
  • Reading ~ Use and Termination of Easements
  • Reading ~ Easements and Transfer of Land ~ Easement Appurtenant ~ Easement in Gross
  • When land is transferred -- by purchase, lease, or otherwise -- one issue that should be kept in mind is that of easements that may (or may not) be tied to the land.

  • Reading ~ Eminent Domain
  • Eminent domain refers to the power of the government to take private land for public use under certain circumstances. For example, the government may sometimes take someone's house in order to make room for a new highway or a bridge.

  • Reading ~ The Taking of Property for Public Use
  • Reading ~ Eminent Domain ~ How the Government Takes Property
  • The power of eminent domain allows the government to take private land for public purposes only if the government provides fair compensation to the property owner.

  • Reading ~ Eminent Domain ~ Public Use Requirement
  • An eminent domain action requires that the government's taking of property be for a "public use". A public use is generally one which confers some benefit or advantage to the public.

  • Reading ~ Eminent Domain ~ What is a "Taking"
  • Reading ~ Eminent Domain ~ Property to be Taken
  • Although most often an eminent domain action is applied to real property (real estate, including buildings), any kind of property may be taken. This includes both tangible and intangible property, such as franchises and contracts.

  • Reading ~ Challenging Eminent Domain
  • An aggrieved party who objects to a government taking must have an opportunity to receive fair notice (a reasonable time to obtain legal advice and prepare a formal objection). Additionally, there must be opportunity for a fair hearing before the award (of compensation) becomes final.

  • Reading ~ Can the Government Seize Property Without Paying?
  • Homeowners have highly protected rights with respect to their property. They generally have the right to defend the land against intruders, build upon the property, and use it for any lawful purpose. However, there are a limited number of circumstances under which the government can take a homeowner's property away.

  • Reading ~ Zoning
  • Zoning ordinances typically divide an area into districts or zones -- residential, commercial, and industrial -- and require that property use conform to the zone type. Most of these laws derive from a desire to create a pleasant place to live -- very few people would like to live near a huge factory, for instance.

  • Reading ~ Land Use and Zoning Basics
  • Land use and zoning involves the regulation of the use and development of real estate. Zoning regulations and restrictions are used by municipalities to control and direct the development of property within their borders.

  • Reading ~ Types of Zoning
  • Reading ~ Zoning Changes, Variances, Non-Conforming Uses, Conditional Use Permits
  • Real Property: Present & Future Interests
  • Video ~ Real Property -- Present & Future Interests
  • Video ~ Vested Remainder
  • Video introduces the vested remainder interest, where an identified person has an unconditional remainder interest in property.

  • Video ~ Contingent Remainder
  • What is a contingent remainder? This video discusses one type of future interest in land, the contingent remainder. The interest is contingent because a condition must be satisfied. Either something must happen first or the person who will get the land cannot be identified yet.

  • Video ~ Reversionary Interest
  • What is a reversionary interest? This video discusses one type of future interest in land, the reversionary interest.

  • Video ~ Fee Simple Determinable
  • What is a fee simple determinable? This video introduces the fee simple determinable, an interest in land that can end automatically if a certain event takes place.

  • Handout ~ Real Property ~ Present & Future Interests
  • PDF slides for the learning material titled: "Video ~ Real Property -- Present & Future Interests".

    Real Property: Landlord-Tenant
  • Video ~ Real Property -- Landlord-Tenant
  • This voice narrated slideshow looks at the rights and duties of Landlords and Tenants.

  • Video ~ Rent Increases and Tenants Rights
  • Video ~ Landlord Right To Evict
  • Video ~ The Eviction Process
  • When it comes to evicting tenants, every landlord must follow applicable state and local laws by providing proper notice to the tenant and following the procedures necessary for a legal eviction.

  • Handout ~ Real Property ~ Landlord-Tenant
  • PDF slides for the learning material titled: "Video ~ Real Property -- Landlord-Tenant".

  • Reading ~ Landlord Tenant Law
  • Reading ~ Rental and Lease Agreements
  • The rental agreement (or lease) governs the entire rental relationship from a financial and legal standpoint. This includes the amount of rent, when it is due, and how to pay it; how many people can live in the apartment, including rules for subletting; what each party‚Äôs duties are, and what to do if either party fails to perform.

  • Reading ~ Landlord Rights
  • Reading ~ Tenant Rights
  • Reading ~ Landlord Tenant Disputes
  • Disputes between landlords and tenants can take many forms -- from upkeep and repair issues to non-payment of rent and potential eviction.

  • Reading ~ Eviction
  • This article provides basic information about the eviction process. Click on the web-links provided in this article to learn more about the eviction process and the rights of the parties involved.

  • Reading ~ Rent and Security Deposits
  • Reading ~ Landlord/Tenant ~ Repairs and Maintenance
  • Reading ~ Landlord/Tenant ~ State Resources
  • Landlord-tenant law is governed by state laws, and each state has slightly different requirements for both landlords and tenants. This affects all of the small details of the landlord-tenant relationships, such as whether tenants have a grace period for paying rent and how long that grace period is.

    Real Property: Mortgages
  • Video ~ Real Property -- Mortgages
  • This voice narrated slideshow looks at the rights of Real-Estate lenders and borrowers.

  • Handout ~ Real Property ~ Mortgages
  • PDF slides for the learning material titled: "Video ~ Real Property -- Mortgages".

  • Reading ~ Mortgages and Equity Loans
  • Reading ~ Mortgage Basics
  • A mortgage is a transfer of an interest in real estate as security for the repayment of a loan. A typical mortgage transaction involves a home purchaser borrowing money from a lender and entering into a written agreement with the lender, so that the real estate is collateral for the loan.

  • Reading ~ Types of Mortgages
  • This article briefly discusses what fixed rate mortgages and adjustable rate mortgages are, their differences, and the advantages and disadvantages of each.

  • Reading ~ Qualifying for a Mortgage
  • Reading ~ What Is a Mortgage Lien?
  • Reading ~ Private Mortgage Insurance
  • Private mortgage insurance is insurance for the lender in case you default on your mortgage payments.

  • Reading ~ Home Equity Loans
  • A home equity loan allows the borrower to use the equity in their home to pay down their mortgage or to pay for other major financial expenses, such as college expenses, home remodels, and business ventures.

  • Reading ~ Home Equity Loan Basics
  • Reading ~ Types of Lenders
  • This article looks at the following types of lenders: Mortgage brokers (sometimes called "mortgage bankers"), Direct Lenders, and Secondary Market Lenders.

  • Reading ~ Three-Day Cancellation Rule
  • If you are considering applying for a personal loan and using your home to guarantee repayment, you should know that a federal credit law gives you three days to reconsider a signed credit agreement and cancel the deal without penalty. Your "right to rescind" or "right to cancel" is guaranteed by the Truth In Lending Act.

  • Reading ~ Home Loans from Family and Friends
  • Reading ~ Mortgage Glossary
  • Reading ~ Borrowers' Rights
  • Reading ~ Reverse Mortgages
  • A "reverse mortgage" is a type of financing option that allows homeowners to borrow against the value of their house and may be a good option for certain homeowners. But unlike a home equity loan, in which the borrower must make payments on a regular basis, a reverse mortgage only needs to be paid back after the homeowner dies or sells the house.

  • Reading ~ Mortgage Loan Scams
  • Mortgage loan scams can take many forms and can involve multiple parties -- including buyers, sellers, investors, creditors, and real estate agents. Signs of potential mortgage fraud may include property flipping, equity skimming, and credit or income misrepresentation.

    Real Property: Trespass
  • Reading ~ Trespassing
  • Trespassing is the legal term for the situation in which one person enters onto the land of another without permission or the legal right to be there. Depending on the circumstances and the law in place where the act occurs, trespassing may be considered a crime, a civil wrong (called a "tort"), or both.

  • Reading ~ Trespassing Basics
  • There are both criminal and civil trespass laws. Criminal trespass law is enforced by police, sheriffs, or park rangers. Civil trespass requires that the landowner initiate a private enforcement action in court to collect any damages for which the trespasser may be responsible (regardless of whether a crime has been committed).

  • Reading ~ Hunting, Animals, and Trespassing
  • A hunting license is not a license to trespass, but state laws treat hunters differently when it comes to trespassing. Some states have laws that specifically address trespassing while hunting, and others rely simply on the general trespassing statutes of the state.

  • Reading ~ Select State Laws on Hunting and Trespassing
  • Reading ~ Homeowner Liability for Trespasser Injuries
  • Certificate Course
    This certificate tracks your progress and tests you in each section. Once you have passed all the quizzes, submitted an assignment and reviewed all the materials, you will be awarded a certificate of completion.