Keeping Your Private Property Rights

You may have fully paid for your home and land, your condominium or your commercial property, but you do not own them. The deeds may be recorded in your name alone and the taxes may be paid in advance, but still you do not own them. 

Contrary to popular thought, your ownership is neither outright nor absolute. In our system of real estate, what you own is not the property, but a set of limited rights to the property. 

Ownership is often called a “bundle of rights,” and the contents of the bundle can change as laws and regulations change. Different types of real estate have different rights included with the bundle. 

  • For a single-family residence you may have rights to occupy it, lease it or demolish it. But you may not have rights to enlarge it, fence it or paint it purple. 

  • For a condominium you may have rights to remodel the interior and access common areas such as a pool or lobby. But you may not have rights to change landscaping, invite your 12-year-old nephew to visit for a month or park your car in an unassigned spot. 

  • For a commercial property you may have rights to construct a building and make other improvements. But you may not have rights to set up a sign that is too large, tap into the sewer for waste disposal or open a business that is non-conforming with zoning. 

Private property rights are the bricks and mortar of real estate. We live and work in a civilization built upon private property rights. And the job of maintaining what we have built is a constant one, for there is no end to threatened intrusions, small and large, that would limit or curtail our private property rights. 

Now that home ownership in the United States is at an all-time high – nearly two of three families own their dwelling – this is no time to relax or relent in the never-ending struggle to protect private property rights. 

But why bother protecting these rights? What is the true importance? Consider this. The fewer your rights of ownership, the less your property is worth and the less likely you would invest in it or improve it. Your property value would be on a downward trend. On the other hand, the greater your rights of ownership, the more your property is worth and the more likely you would invest and work to find its highest and best use. Your property value would be on an upward trend. 

Multiply your personal ownership by the millions of other property owners and the overall effect upon the economy of our county, state and nation is clear. 

For decades, Realtors® have fought to preserve and protect private property rights at the local, state and national levels of government. Working through the Realtors® Political Action Committee (RPAC), a group supported by voluntary contributions from Realtors® and others associated with the real estate industry, people concerned over the erosion of private property rights have supported candidates for office, lobbied elected and appointed officials, proposed new regulations and legislation, and made significant gains year after year. 

In recent actions for Florida residents, RPAC was instrumental in:

  • Defeating a tax increase to add $300 to the cost of buying a $100,000 home;
  • Reducing windstorm insurance rate hikes from 40 percent to 10 percent;
  • Boosting FHA loan limits to create more first-time homeowners;
  • Assuring funding for beach renourishment and protection of Florida’s coastlines.

As a result of these and many other successes by RPAC, more people own their homes, more businesses are thriving, and the economic engine of real estate continues to power the economy through difficult recessionary times. 

The National Association of Realtors® stands alone as the only professional organization in the country that takes on the issue of protecting private property rights. In 2003 the local members and affiliates of the Manatee Association of Realtors® set an ambitious RPAC fundraising goal over $40,000 to fund candidates for political office and promote issues that aim to protect private property rights. 

Realtors® know that ownership has a price, and they are voluntarily making gifts and pledges to RPAC that will benefit all owners. While it may cost a bundle to protect and maintain the private property rights that make ownership rewarding, Realtors® are on the front line of the fight. They are ready, willing and able to do what it takes.


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