The Situs Term In Real Estate

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Situs is one of those funny terms in real estate that many people may hear but are not sure what it means.

Situs is a legal term that refers to the location or jurisdiction of where the property is located. Situs does not have to do with just real estate property but can be for all kinds of property. For the legal aspects of situs, the English Common law reference is used as most jurisdictions will use English common law as the basis for their legal system.

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What Is Situs?

Situs is one of those real estate terms used for legal purposes. Situs means the location of a property.

The word Situs is the Latin word that means site or location. Even the word Situs is about the location of the property.

Situs is a legal term that can be used for other kinds of property, such as a purse. An intangible item such as a legal patent can also be considered a situs.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary gives this definition of Situs:

“the place where something exists or originates
 the place where something (such as a right) is held to be located in law.”

Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Situs has to do with the law and where the property is located as viewed by the law. It is about the legal location of the property. And it can refer to many different kinds of property, not just real estate or real property.

English Common law rules apply in most jurisdictions; real estate and land status are where it is located. The Situs of a chattel or tangible moveable property or item is where the chattel is situated at the time of conveyance.

So, in reality, the Situs is about where the property is located for both real property and a chattel or moveable property.

Situs In Real Estate

The term situs is the property’s physical location or where the property’s legal jurisdiction is located in real estate.

In English, Common law, which is followed in most jurisdictions, states that situs is where the real estate or land is located. Situs is where you have something such as the right to use the land through ownership of the land.

Importance of Situs in Real Estate

Situs is very important in real estate as it dictates the land’s location. The land location is crucial for tax and legal purposes.

Real estate is immovable and does not move, so the situs will not move. Property located in Wisconsin will have its Situs in Wisconsin. Property in Utah will have its Situs in Utah. The situs location of land or real property does not ever move.

Situs of Taxation and Trusts

If your land is in Utah, you are subject to Utah income tax, not California or Nevada tax. The situs tells the location and where you legally must pay property tax.

The state’s government can only legally exercise its taxing power and authority on taxpayers and property located within its jurisdiction. The Situs of taxation is where the tax authorities have the right to impose and collect taxes on property and Situs in their authority or the area where they have legal authority.

Situs is also important when it comes to legal trust issues. The Situs will determine where and how a trustee or beneficiary can seek judicial relief.

Basic Rules Of Situs And Property

Situs is about all kinds of property, and there can be different rules for different kinds of property. The rules for Situs can vary from jurisdiction, but most law uses the English common law as their basis for rules.

Here is the definition of a situs that is found in all kinds of properties and how Situs is applied, and how each differs:

Real Estate

The Situs of real estate or land is where the real estate or land is located.


The Situs of a chattel or tangible moveable property is the state or location of where the chattel is located during conveyance. This can include things such as a car, boat, or motorhome.

Bearer Instruments

The Situs of the bearer instruments is where the document is located. But a situs of a registered instrument is where it is registered.


The Situs of debt is where the debtor resides because where the debtor resides is usually where legal action can take place.

Intangible Property

The Situs of intangible property as intellectual property and goodwill is where the property is registered. If it is not registered, then the Situs is where the property’s location can be enforced.


The Situs of ships is the territorial waters or where it is located except in international waters. The Situs of a ship in international waters is where the ship is registered.

As you can see from this, Situs usually has to do with location. So when we speak about Situs in real estate, we are talking specifically about where the property is located.

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Life estate is when a person is granted the right to use the property for the term of their life. Once the life estate holder dies, the property is passed on to the owner. The individual who holds the life estate does have rights to the property and can usually still get income from the property for the term of their life.

By clicking here, you can read more about What Is A Life Estate? Real Estate Explained

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By clicking here, you can read more about The Real Estate Bundle Of Rights Explained.

Anita Hummel
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