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On April 30, 2014, The National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) granted accreditation to the NALA Certified Paralegal program for demonstrating compliance with the NCCA Standards for the Accreditation of Certification Programs. NCCA is the accrediting body of the Institute for Credentialing Excellence. The NCCA Standards were created to ensure certification programs adhere to modern standards of practice for the certification industry.  The NALA Certified Paralegal program joins an elite group of more than 120 organizations representing over 270 certification programs that have received and maintained NCCA accreditation. More information on the NCCA is available online at www.credentialingexcellence.org/NCCA

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Real Estate Principles
This page summarizes the Real Estate Principles program. Use the links below to review the items, register or login to the course. If you have not already registered as a user on the NALA APC web site, click "Register for the Course." If you have already registered for this or another APC course, you have already created a user account, click "Login."

Paralegals who are not seeking the Advanced Paralegal Certification credential are welcome to register and take any APC courses as advanced continuing education programs. CLE credit is available upon completion of the courses from NALA for Certified Paralegals, and from various state CLE programs.

Prerequisite Knowledge Learning Contract Register for the course
Fee: $250 Members; $300 Non Members

Course Description

The Real Estate Principles APC course presents fundamental concepts related to acquisition, possession, use, and transfer of real property. Modules in the course include an introduction to real estate law definitions and terminology; the historical background of the development of real estate law, from feudal England to early America to present-day America; present estates and future interests in land; acquiring and holding title; easements, real covenants, and equitable servitudes; categories of real property; defining and describing real property; and systems for recording documents related to real property.

Click here to open "Role of the Paralegal" in real estate practice. This is the basis for this advanced course. In addition, the "Practice Tips" document may also be helpful to those working in Real Estate.

Prerequisite Knowledge

Those taking this course should be familiar with the following:
  • Statutory and common law
  • State and federal legislation
  • Judgments, damages and remedies
  • Basic torts and contracts
  • Practice and procedure forms
  • Internet research
  • Public records research
  • Federal and state civil procedure
  • Statutes of limitations

Course Modules

The Advanced Paralegal Certification course on Real Estate Principles consists of successful completion of 11 modules of text, assessments, and assignments. The modules and their objectives are as follows:

1. Introduction and Definitions
Module 1 is an introduction to essential real estate concepts, definitions, and terminology. Topics include a comparison of real and personal property, including sales and transfers, security interests, wills and estate planning, taxes, and liens; physical components of the surface, subsurface, and airspace; legal components of real property, including ownership, possession, use, and mortgage rights; riparian, littoral, subsurface, and subsidence water rights; public controls of real property, such as eminent domain, taxes, nuisance, zoning laws, plat restrictions, escheat, confiscation, and environmental protection regulations; private controls on real property, including nuisance, servitudes, easements, profits à prendre, licenses, and liens; and lateral and subjacent support.
2. History of Real Estate Law
Module 2 discusses the historical origins of present day real estate law. Topics include the Norman invasion of England in 1066, beginning a major transformation in English property law; the feudal system initiated by William the Conqueror after the 1066 invasion, court systems established under Norman rule, including the King’s courts, manorial courts, and the Chancery Court; the feudal concepts of free and unfree tenure, the rule of primogeniture, and copyholds; services rendered to the King to maintain tenure, such as knight service, frankalmoin, serjeanty, and socage; lifetime incidents of free tenure, including a margin fealty, aides, fines for alienation, and forfeiture; death incidents of free tenure, such as escheat, relief, wardship, and marriage; the development of estates in land, beginning with the statute Quia Emptores; uses, legal and equitable titles, and future interests; the English statute of uses, statute of wills, conveyance by bargaining, dower and curtesy, and the rule against perpetuities; the end of feudalism and its continuing legacy in America.
3. Present Estates
Module 3 examines the modern concept, nature, and legal aspects of present estates in real property. Topics include the nature, classifications, and hierarchy of estates in land; creation and conveyance of the states, including instruments and language, grantors and grantees, words of purchase and limitation, future interest, and time of possession; creation and nature of the fee simple estate; the fee tail, with its related fee simple conditional, heirs of the body, reversions and remainders, disentailing, and the state of the fee tail today; the nature and creation of a life estate, including life estate pur autre vie, reversions and remainders, and conversion to fee simple; the nature and creation of leasehold estates, such as the tenancy for years, periodic tenancy, tenancy at will, and the landlord-tenant relationship; and issues with leaseholds, such as independent covenants, mutual dependence, leaseholds and lesser interest, temporary lodging, and holding over.
4. Future Interests
Module 4 examines concepts, types, and consequences of future interests in real estate. Topics include a comparison of absolute, defeasible, and determinable estates, executory limitations, and conditions subsequent; types and characteristics of future interests, including future possession, relationship to possessory estates, vested and contingent interest, and successors in interest; creation and nature of remainders; a comparison of remainders that are indefeasibly vested, vested subject to defeasance, and vested subject to open; contingent remainders, conditions precedent, and conditions subsequent; executory interests, including conditions of limitation, springing and shifting executory interest, and changing interests; reversions and contingent remainders; and the nature and creation of the possibility of reverter, and comparison to reversion; nature and creation of rights of entry, fee subject to condition subsequent, and exercise of the right of entry.
5. Future Interest Issues
Module 5 discusses specific legal and practical issues arising from the creation and holding of future interests. Topics include issues of possession, clear title, eminent domain, and taxation; construction of conveyances, merger, defeasible fee estates, and multiple remainders and executory interests; rules restricting contingent remainders, such as the doctrine of destructibility of contingent remainders, the rule in Shelley's case, and the doctrine of worthier title; a discussion of the rule against perpetuities, including interest subject to the rule, vesting in time, validating liens, the effect of violation, burdens of proof, and modern modifications; transferability of future interests and creditors' rights; failure of conditions and survival requirements; interpretation of ambiguous language in a conveyance, including the effect of agreements, the grantor's intent, combination language, and requirements of survival; and types and causes of action for waste.
6. Acquiring and Holding Title
Module 6 focuses on legal requirements for acquiring and holding title to real property. Topics include restraints on alienation, purchase, inheritance, gifts and donations, and adverse possession; status of homestead property, including exemptions, properties eligible, persons who can designate property as homestead property, and the methods for designating; forms of individual ownership of real property by natural persons and legal entities; forms of concurrent ownership, including tenancy in common, joint tenancy with right of survivorship, and tenancy by the entirety; rights and duties of co-owners of real property regarding possession, rent, ouster, expenses, and partition; law of community property states, community property compared to separate property, transmutation, and the effect of death and divorce on community property; and common-law marital interests, including property ownership, divorce and marital property, dower and curtesy, statutory elective shares, and cohabitating partners.
7. Easements
Module 7 is an overview of the nature, creation, and maintenance of easements. Topics include the purposes for creation of easements, affirmative and negative easements, and a comparison to profits à prendre and licenses; easements appurtenant and easements in gross; express easements and easements reserved in favor of a third party; easements implied by law, including easements by necessity and implied reservation; establishment and elements of prescriptive easements, including continuous, hostile, and open and notorious use; statutory, judicial, and government easements, including public prescriptions, easements acquired by a state through eminent domain, and conservation easements; the scope of easements; transferability of easements; and the termination of easements, including expiration and release, merger, change conditions, misuse, abandonment, and prescription.
8. Real Covenants and Equitable Servitudes
Module 8 discusses creation, nature, and enforceability of real covenants. Topics cover the nature of the real covenant as a promise related to estates in land, affirmative and negative covenants, and comparison of real covenants to conditions; creation and elements of legal covenants, including timing, writing, enforcement, and successors in title; running of the burden and benefit of a real covenant; intention of the parties; the requirements of "touch and concern" and privity of estate; enforcement by third parties; creation and nature of equitable servitudes, and remedies for violation; and enforcement by and against assignees, defenses, and termination.
9. Categories of Real Property
Module 9 examines placement of real property into categories for various purposes. Topics include purposes for categorization, such as planning, zoning, and use, sales and contracts, appraisal, finance, and business and legal specialties; residential property, including single-family and multifamily dwellings, common interest communities, vacation homes, second homes, seasonal homes, timeshares, houseboats, and mobile and manufactured homes; commercial property, such as retail and personal services use, recreation, entertainment, and amusement, and large-scale commercial and business services; the use, structures, regulations, and incentives for development and redevelopment of industrial property; protection of agricultural property and right-to-farm laws; public property, such as airports and other government-owned real estate; and other types of unique real property, including deserts, scenic property, mountain ranges, endangered habitats, wetlands and flood claims, and coastal regions.
10. Defining and Describing Real Property
Module 10 discusses methods used in the past and present to identify and define specific parcels of real property. Topics include surveys and legal descriptions as methods of identification of property; procedures and limitations of the monument method of legal description; process and limitations of the metes-and-bounds method; the government survey or Public Land Survey System method, including post-revolution statutes, survey grants, township and range identifiers, sections, fractions, and limitations of the method; plats, statutes and ordinances, blocks and lots used in the subdivision plat method of legal description; the State Plan Coordinate system, based on latitude and longitude; and a discussion of legal description accuracy, including requirements for precision, preparing legal descriptions for documents, statutory rules of construction, and corrective deeds and documents.
11. Recording Real Property
Module 11 discusses statutory recording systems and corresponding requirements for recording documents related to real property. Topics include the nature of a recording system as a means for filing documents in a central, public location, resolution of conflicting deeds, and transferability; state recording statutes, recording offices and officers, recordable documents, recording procedures, and Torrens registration; recording procedures, including delivery and acceptance by the recording officer, electronic filing, recording, indexing, and return of documents; types of recording statutes, including title priorities, race statutes, notice statutes, and race-notice statutes; record notice, including record errors, misindexed documents, mistakenly recorded documents, wild card deeds, late-recorded documents, deeds by estoppel, and instruments affecting more than one parcel; inquiry notice, including information records and possession of property; and resolution of a competing interest, including distribution of proceeds and priorities.