A simple definition of real estate is that it is air, water, land, and everything affixed to the land. Real estate in the United States may be owned privately by individuals and private entities or publicly by government entities. Private ownership rights in this country are not absolute. The government can impose taxes and restrictions on private ownership rights, and it can take private property away altogether. In addition, other private parties can exert their rights and interests on one's real property. A bank, for example, can take a property if the owner fails to pay a mortgage. A neighbor can claim the right to walk across one's property whether the owner likes it or not, provided he or she has done so for a certain number of years.In attempting to define real estate, it is essential to understand what rights and interests parties have in a parcel of real estate. And to understand real estate rights and interests, one must first recognize the distinctions between: land and real estatereal estate and propertyreal property and personal propertyLandThe legal concept of land encompassesthe surface area of the eartheverything beneath the surface of the earth extending downward to its centerall naturalthings permanently attached to the earththe air above the surface of the earth extending outward to infinity. Land, therefore, includes minerals beneath the earth's surface, water on or below the earth's surface, and the air above the surface. In addition, land includes all plants attached to the ground or in the ground, such as trees and grass. A parcel, or tract, of land is a portion of land delineated by boundaries. Physical characteristics.Land has three unique physical characteristics: immobility, indestructibility, and heterogeneity.Land is immobile, since a parcel of land cannot be moved from one siteto another. In other words, the geographical location of a tract of land is fixed and cannot be changed. One can transport portions of the landsuch as mined coal, dirt, or cut plants. However, as soon as such elements are detached from the land, they are no longer considered land.Land is indestructible in the sense that one would have to remove a segment of the planet all the way to the core in order to destroy it. Even then, the portion extending upward to infinity would remain. For the same reason, land is considered to be permanent.
Land is non-homogeneous, since no two parcels of land are exactly the same. Admittedly, two adjacent parcels may be very similar and have the same economic value. However, they are inherently different because each parcel has a unique location.