Real Property, Personal Property & Land Use
Published: August 2, 2017
Part of our Real Estate Law Series
It’s not only real estate agents who confuse what the legal issues surrounding land use, land rights and real property, but anyone who owns a home, parcel, lot or land. As licensed PA real estate agents, we are required to study how these definitions and regulations relate to land us, air use and mineral rights in relation to real property. We plan to address the issues relating to land, air and mineral rights, real and personal property. Here’s some general terms and definitions you too may find helpful about real property, personal property & land use (and various land rights).
Real Property or Personal Property
1) Real Property
Real property is defined as land and improvements permanently attached to the land. It is also known as real estate, or realty. There are several issues related to the ownership of real property and may be discussed in future posts. It generally falls under the section of law called property law. Here’s a list of real property.
Homes – real property.
Buildings – real property (attached to the land).
Land – real property (other rights like air rights or mineral rights can be separate agreements).
2) Personal Property
What you own is your personal property, right? The Pennsylvania Secretary of State’s office defines personal property as “any property that is not real property” which sends us back to the prior definition of real property. The reason for a distinction is simple: taxes. For property tax purposes, your personal property is defined as “all types of property except land, buildings, or other real property improvements” and by excluding real property, it creates the ability to tax each separately. You taxable personal property includes all assets used in the operation of a business, farm, or ranch, etc. Here’s a list of real property.
Tractor – personal property.
Silo – personal property, even though it’s on your property.
Manufactured homes (a mobile home) – personal property
Note: An owner can file an affidavit affixing the unit to their real estate.
Land Use and Land Rights
Land, air and mineral rights are used in the appraisal of real property. Both land and air rights are defined by counties, municipalities and sometimes individual towns. They are able to create land us restrictions within the power given by the State to them to enforce. Land Rights means a fee interest in bounded land or real property.
Land Use & Land Rights Example:
If there was an easement to permit certain access and foot traffic across a plot, it may limit the kinds of improvements that may be placed on that lot, and thus reduce the value.
Air Rights means a fee interest in a three-dimensional air space in relation to specified real property as outlined appropriately by Cornell School of Law.
In most cases, appraisals over a parcel of land include the valuation of all the rights associated with ownership. However, if a property has multiple owners, that information will be important in efforts to assess and collect taxes. If certain rights have been sold or assigned to others, the remaining value of the property may be reduced.
Air Rights Example:
In terms of a lease, they may allow development of mineral or air rights and may effectively prevent other uses during the lease period therefore resulting in a reduced appraisal from a lower property value.
Finally, ownership of land and mineral rights and its related mineral entry status is complex. It is impossible to make a general statement that will provide a key to the surface and subsurface status of lands. The legal nature of land and mineral entry status is further intensified by the fact that in many areas the surface and mineral rights are under separate ownership.
This is a standard procedure by which the ownership and mineral entry status of any particular land may be determined. Again, this may slightly vary by location and local laws. However, no procedure can guarantee the exact location, presence, absence or validity of unpatented mining claims on Federal land open to mineral entry. Actual determination of the presence and validity of mining claims require both a detailed search of the records and on the ground. Further, even though procedures to prevent errors in official records are adhered to by all agencies involved, occasionally errors are discovered.
If you have questions about real property, personal property & land use, contact an attorney. Remember it’s always Buyer Beware when you considering real property.