real = R = real hack

real estate n.

May be used for any critical resource measured in units of area. Most frequently used of `chip real estate', the area available for logic on the surface of an integrated circuit (see also nanoacre). May also be used of floor space in a dinosaur pen, or even space on a crowded desktop (whether physical or electronic).

--The Jargon File version 4.3.1, ed. ESR, autonoded by rescdsk.

What is Real Estate?

Real estate is the land, the buildings, the right to a specified building or part of a building and any goods, assets or other property included in a property transaction.

There are many historical examples of real estate transactions. One of the earliest records of a real estate transaction is of Abraham purchasing a field with a cave for four hundred silver pieces from Ephron. Abraham and Ephron negotiated directly without the assistance of an intermediary.

Other examples can be traced back to Roman times when slaves were used to acquire property on behalf of their masters. Unfortunately in this example the 'agents' who assisted in arranging these transactions were not paid for their services.

Today, real estate agents and their clients are protected by law and the agent recieves a commission for his or her efforts on behalf of the principal.

Who can deal in real estate?

There are two main categories of people who are entitled to deal in real estate: the owners of the property and licensed estate agents.

  • The owner of the property may be an individual, a group of people or a company. The owner has a right to sell or rent their property at will to a second party for a negotiated price. Only the vendor and the purchaser are involved if the property is sold; or the landlord and tenant if the property is rented. For example, where the owner is a company that is established for the purpose of buying, improving and then reselling that property, i.e. a property developer, the relationship is more complex, but still only two parties are involved. The company as a seperate legal entity owns the property and through its employees can sell that property. The company is, therefore, the vendor who sells to a purchaser. Alternatively, the company may be a property management company which owns, for example, a shopping centre. As landlord, the company through the efforts of its employees leases shops directly to tenants.

  • An estate agent sells or rents property on behalf of another person. In a sales transaction three parties would be involved: the vendor, the agent and the purchaser. In a rental transaction the landlord, the agents and the tenant would be involved. The agent must hold a licence.

    Types of property

    Most property sold and leased is residential real estate. Other types of property handled by real estate agents include commercial, industrial and rural property.

  • Residential Property: Residential property is sold or leased as single detatched dwellings such as a house, attatched units such as terraced houses; or as strata title units.
  • Commercial Property: Real estate agencies selling or leasing land which is zoned for business use are dealing in commercial real estate. The phrase retail property (used to refer to shops) is a specialised type of commercial property.
  • Industrial Property: Industrial real estate is property zoned for manufacturing, assembly or related use. Agents can be involved in both the sale and rental of this type of property.
  • Rural Property: Rural real estate is land designated for agricultural or pastoral use and is either sold or let by real estate agents.

    The category of property is determined by its use rather than its location. For example, a property with a dwelling designed for private accomadation is residential real estate regardless of whether it is situated in a large urban area or a small country town. Land value, however, is determined more so by location.

    All types of properties can be sold by estate agents, yet the use made of the property by the purchaser must conform with the relevant zoning regulations.

    A big thanks to my mum, who herself is a real estate agent, for providing me with all this information.

  • What a weird term.

    The OED of course has much to say on this matter.


    6. Law. (Opposed to personal.)
    a. Of actions, causes, etc.: Relating to things, or spec. to real property (see c).
    b. Connected in some way with things or real property: (see quots. and Wharton's Law Lexicon).
    c. Consisting of immovable property, as lands and houses; esp. real estate (see estate sb. 11); also attrib.

    Ok, estate:

    11. Law.
    a. The interest which any one has in lands, tenements, or any other effects; often with qualifying words or phrases, as an estate upon condition, in fee, for life, of inheritance, tail, from year to year, at will, etc.,
    real estate, an interest in landed property;
    personal estate, an interest in movables;
    but the phrases are often regarded as signifying the respective kinds of property. See also fee, tail, etc.

    Interesting. The use of "real" as an adjectival qualifier is not a surprise. Real property is land, which cannot just vanish or be destroyed without considerable effort; it is solid as opposed to ephemeral. The contrast between real and personal estate is interesting: real estate is immovable, while personal estate is movable, but both are considered to be property; both are considered to be sources or indications of wealth. They contribute to the owner's net worth. It is a fairly simple distinction. It is the specific legal meaning of the term "estate" that interests me.

    The entire concept of the estate, to me, is antiquated. It refers more to the lands of a noble, over which that noble had jurisdiction, than to any little house and plot of land readily available for contemporary purchase. On the noble's estate, no land was ever available for purchase, as the king owned it all anyway, while the noble merely managed it and charged rent. The arable land was available for rent, but as nobles realized they could make more money on animals such as sheep and the consequent wool industry (at least in England, and by the early modern period), houses and farmland were getting more and more difficult to come by.

    The management of the estate had nothing to do with ownership; it did have to do with the worth of a noble, or, more accurately, of that specific noble's seat and title. The king gave more lands to those whom he favored; he gave higher rank to those who he thought deserved it. By the early modern period, these estates had been passed down through several generations, such that the noble who then held an estate and its title might not be held in such good graces as were his ancestors.

    So what you had was a bunch of nobles, slowly growing out of the feudal system, who were expected to properly manage their estate's lands: to produce as much money or food (preferably both) as possible, while keeping order among tenant farmers, protecting the king's hunting preserves, and implementing tax law. An estate was a privilege, and with that privilege came specific obligations. Yay!

    With this in mind, the movement toward real estate as an owned thing is pretty interesting. It makes sense, as the idea of the individual (as opposed to the community; thanks a lot, age of reason) and his private property (as opposed to communal grazing ground) became more important. It makes sense that the language changed with the concept of property: the term "estate" eventually just came to mean what the OED says, immovable property, consisting of land and any structures thereof.

    But I think it is strange that the class barriers involved in such language were also broken down so thoroughly. The non-noble individual could become more important as an individual without also using the noble-oriented word: for hundreds of years, estates had been associated only with nobles. It is bizarre to me that a commoner, even one who considered himself equal to any lily-handed noble, would take on noble terminology as well. I mean, class is an awfully loaded issue even now; god knows it was more so then. A commoner -- a merchant of the growing middle class, let's say, who could easily have had more money than many a struggling noble -- who decided that the house he bought was his estate might have ended up with some explaining to do. It would not have been the same thing as declaring oneself a noble, no, but it would still have been a fairly daring move; it would have been like surrounding oneself in the trappings of a noble.

    On the other hand, it does make sense that the common people would start to claim the language of the nobles. Such a thing would give them power, and the right to such power; any individual could own property, and why shouldn't they co-opt the term, if just for emphasis? If they were all just as good as the nobles, why shouldn't they use their language? Taking over the term would have been daring, but the merchant would have had a point. It would have emphasized the common people's right to property. So perhaps this was done intentionally. Then again, perhaps it was a natural development in reponse to the sociopolitical issues of the time.

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