Real Estate Terms

Corporeal Property Definition

The word ‘property’ has many different meanings. For instance, it tells us about those things that belong to a person, whether animate or inanimate. Any material or immaterial things with some value can be called property. A property’s main characteristic is it’s worth or usefulness, which can be personal or monetary. In general, there are two kinds of properties: Corporeal property and Incorporeal property. In this article, I’ll explain what corporeal property is and how it is further divided into subcategories.

What Is Corporeal Property?

Corporeal property refers to the ownership of a material thing. This type of property includes items that can be seen or touched and have a physical existence. So, if you have anything in your possession that you can see and touch, it’s corporeal property. The following are the main characteristics of such properties:

  • Tangible
  •  Always visible
  • Can be perceived by senses

This type of property allows you to have legal rights over tangible things. Corporeal property is further divided into subcategories which include movable or immovable and real or personal:

Movable vs. Immovable

Corporeal property can be movable or immovable. Movable property is something that you can carry with you or take along. For example, your smartphone, documents, laptop, jewelry, watches, furniture, gadgets, etc. Immovable property is a corporeal property you can’t move. For example, you can’t move a piece of land anywhere. Other examples include buildings and roads, and structures that are connected to the ground.

How Do I know if An Object Is Immovable?

For a property to be considered immovable, it should have at least one of the following characteristics:

  • A determinate portion of the earth’s surface
  • The reasonable space above the surface sufficient and necessary for the free beneficial enjoyment of the ground surface
  • All things attached to the ground, under the surface land, or placed by human agency
  • The ground below the surface down to the middle of the earth
  • All things on and under the surface in their natural state

Real vs. Personal

Real property means corporeal property or rights over land recognized by law. These properties include land or attachments to land that can’t be transported anywhere. This also tells us why buying and selling are termed real estate. On the other hand, personal property refers to ownership of anything that moves with a person. 

It’s worth noting if property is immovable, that doesn’t automatically make it real property. Some people use these terms interchangeably, but this is technically incorrect. Real property is a broader term that includes intangible rights and tangible property. For instance, immovable property can be a simple piece of land, but the “real property” included with that land usually includes the bundle of rights attached to it, which are intangible.

Corporeal Property Examples

Corporeal property includes anything that you can perceive through your senses. This can be any material items that you have in your possession. These are common examples of corporeal property:

  • House
  • Land
  • Chattel
  • Car
  • Bike
  • Jewelry
  • Operating equipment
  • Office
  • Shopping center
  • Restaurant
  • Furniture

What Is the Difference Between Corporeal and Incorporeal Property?

All the material things we can see and touch are called corporeal properties. On the other hand, those immaterial things that we can’t touch but have value are called incorporeal properties. Incorporeal property is also called intellectual or conventional property. These properties are also protected by law, but you can’t perceive them by senses. Incorporeal property includes patents, trademarks, copyright, geographical indicators, industrial design, commercial goodwill, trade secrets, etc.

For instance, if we consider a brand that manufactures unique candies. The name of the brand is its trademark, and the recipe is the trade secret. The copyright can include the way the candy is labeled or packed. The shape, design, and packaging can also be considered trademark or patent. These are all examples of incorporeal property.

What Is a Private Corporeal Property?

Private corporeal property is designated to a particular owner, unlike public property, which everyone can use. Private properties that come under the category of tangible goods and someone has them under their possession are called private corporeal properties. On the other hand, public property includes all those things that everyone can use. These properties include parks, libraries, or any properties the government mainly builds for the public.

What Are My Rights If I Have a Corporeal Property?

If you have a material object, you have a particular right of ownership over it. These rights are general, inheritable, and permanent. Following are your rights if you have corporeal property:

  • The general right includes your right over the property to use it, except if it has a natural restriction or limitations.
  • The right is inheritable; if you’re the owner, you can transfer the ownership to anyone you like.
  • The right is permanent as long as the tangible goods exist, even after the owner’s death.

Are Land Rights Corporeal?

Though land is a corporeal property, its rights are incorporeal. Rights over something are intangible; thus, they come under the category of incorporeal property. A right in the land accompanied by possession is called corporeal property. However, partial rights which don’t prove the possession of the land are incorporeal.

What Are the Immaterial Forms of Property?

The right of property can be either for material property or immaterial one. The laws of properties are, however, mostly related to material things. The immaterial things recognized by law as the subject matter of rights include the results of human labor and skills.

What to Know for the Real Estate Exam

Corporeal property includes all the things in your possession that you can see or touch. As a real estate professional, you must understand the concept of corporeal property and the things that come under this category. The legalities and rights over corporeal property vary from state to state; thus, it is essential to understand your state laws. If you understand all of that, you are good to go, and you’re one step closer to acing that real estate exam!

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