Real Property: MBE Topics to Understand

real property mbe topics

The real property section of the MBE can sometimes feel like a scattered mess. That’s because real property covers a wide variety of different topics; there’s a reason most schools spend multiple semesters on it. You’ll need to refresh yourself on all of these property subtopics, though thankfully a deep, rich understanding of all of them isn’t required. More than most subjects, real property is one of breadth, not depth. Here is a comprehensive outline of MBE testable subjects provided by the NCBE, outlined briefly below.

1. Ownership of Real Property

Ownership of Real Property includes many of the first subjects most of us studied, such as present and future interests and co-tenancy issues. Present and future interests include fee simples, life estates, remainders, reversions, executory interests, possibility of reverter, and co-tenancy issues. It also includes all of landlord/tenant law, and some miscellaneous issues like the rule against perpetuities and housing discrimination.

2. Rights in Real Property

Rights in Real Property is a little more straightforward than the section above. Potentially the trickiest among the topics are restrictive covenants. Also included are easements, profits and licenses, as well as fixtures, and zoning issues.

3. Real Estate Contracts

Real estate contracts include a wide variety of different rules and concepts for the transfer of real property. The concept of brokerage, creation and construction of the contract (including statute of frauds and breach remedies), and marketability of title reside here. Equitable conversion, options and rights of first refusal, fitness, and merger appear as well.

4. Mortgages/Security Devices

Ah, mortgages. Mortgages might be one of the more important subtopics for real-world applicability, and the bar examiners make sure you know it. This includes the different types of mortgages, such as deeds of trust, purchase-money and future-advance mortgages, installment land sale contracts, and absolute deeds. The distinction between title and lien jurisdictions is also likely to make an appearance on the exam, and varying other rights and obligations (foreclosure process and duties, and right of redemption).

The process of transferring a mortgage is also relevant, whether that be between mortgagees, or a transfer by the mortgagor (“subject to” / “assume,” subrogation, and restrictions on transfer). Coming full circle, we have the process of either discharging a mortgage or going through foreclosure.

5. Titles

Titles is also a practical section for how a variety of day to day legal affairs are conducted. Thus, it has a tendency to crop up on the bar exam. Everyone’s favorite concept – adverse possession – is found in this area. Also transfers by deed, including the types of different deeds and deed requirements, are included. Other operations of transfer, including ademption, exoneration, and lapse, are also relevant, as are the different methods of county recording (recording acts, indexes, chain of title).

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I hope you found this summary of the testable real property MBE topics useful! For some quick practice, check out our post on MBE Real Property questions. By the end of your bar prep studying, you’re going to know mortgages and deeds like the back of your hand!

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