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Real property

fee simple

Fee simple is an ownership interest in real property that is the most full, unlimited, and absolute property interest recognized by law. This ownership interest of title in fee simple is also referred to as fee simple absolute; estate in fee simple; fee simple title; or simply fee, and the term is usually used to indicate the real property ownership interest a seller is transferring to a buyer.

The rights of a fee simple property owner are limited by the government’s power to tax the land (property taxes) and to purchase the land through the compulsory process mandated by state law—often as provided in the state’s constitution or in the state’s statutes—which is known as eminent domain.

In limited circumstances fee simple ownership may also be subject to the state’s police powers, the law of escheat (when the property owner dies without a will and without heirs), and encumbrances or deed restrictions on the use of the land.

In Texas, fee simple ownership represents the most complete form of ownership in real estate, granting the holder full rights to the property, subject to certain limitations. The owner of a fee simple estate has the right to use, sell, lease, or bequeath the property as they see fit. However, these rights are not without restrictions. The government retains the power to levy property taxes on the land, and through eminent domain, it may also acquire the property for public use, provided that the owner is given just compensation, as outlined in both the U.S. Constitution and Texas state law. Additionally, the state can exercise its police powers to regulate the use of the property in the interest of public health, safety, and welfare. If a property owner dies intestate (without a will) and without heirs, the property may escheat, or revert, to the state. Lastly, the use of the property may be limited by encumbrances or deed restrictions, which are conditions placed on the property that bind current and future owners.

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