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Where Did the Term 'Real Estate' Come From?

James LaDue

There are plenty of words we use everyday. But have you ever thought of their origins? Take real estate, for example. With its storied past, the term defines genuine land property, the soil beneath it and any structures built on it.

Here's a quick look at how that came to be.

Defined by Merriam-Webster as property consisting of buildings and land, real estate can be broken into two different parts, real and estate. Realis is a Latin term that means existing and true. According to Etymonline.com, real is used in a legal context in Middle English to reference immovable property (i.e., a house, building or structure), as opposed to personal property, such as clothing or furniture.

The term estate can be traced to Latin and even French. Derived from the Latin term status, which means state or condition, it's combined with stare, which means to stand, and its French derivative is estat. The English definition for the term today, according to Dictionary.com, is property/possessions or an individual's interest, ownership or property.

Per Merriam-Webster, the combined term real estate was first coined in London in 1666, the year of the London Fire. (Ironically, this was the year much of London's real estate was demolished.) In 1670-era London, the term realty was first used with the same meaning, and that's why we use it today.

If you're in the market for some real estate of your own, you will probably need a mortgage. But you'd better have a decent credit score and a sizable down payment. Having a good credit score today is as crucial as ever for hopeful homebuyers (you can view your credit score for free, updated each month, on Credit.com). Staying on top of your credit report will also allow you to address potential errors before you apply.