Real estate is land and the buildings, structures and other resources on it, including minerals and water. It’s the most valuable asset that most people own, and it often is a big source of wealth for them. The value of real estate typically appreciates over time, so property owners can make a profit by buying and selling it. Agents and brokers facilitate real estate transactions, and they earn a commission on each transaction.

Residential real estate includes structures built for domestic occupation, such as single-family homes, condominiums and townhouses. It also can include mobile homes, vacation rentals and other similar rental properties. Commercial real estate encompasses all buildings and land used for business purposes, such as office complexes, retail stores, warehouses, hotels and other similar facilities. Industrial real estate consists of land and buildings used for manufacturing, production or processing, and may include agricultural lands, timberland and even farms.

Investors purchase real estate to gain income and equity from it. They use a variety of strategies to gain short or long term profits, such as purchasing property for resale, renting out space to tenants and investing in property development. For those investors who don’t want to take on the risk of managing a property themselves, they can invest in real estate through an investment fund or syndicate, which pools funds from many investors and manages the asset for them. For more:

Real estate agents help homeowners sell their homes and find buyers for them. They can assist with home inspections and appraisals, and they have access to a wide range of property listings through their multiple listing service (MLS). Agents can help homeowners determine how much to ask for their homes and set an asking price accordingly. They can also provide information on comparable home sales in the area to help homeowners evaluate a property’s value.

Once a homeowner decides to sell, they seek out a real estate agent, usually through a recommendation or online research. The agent will help them prepare their property for sale by staging it and taking photos of the interior and exterior. They will then list the property with relevant listing services and host open houses to attract potential buyers. They will negotiate with potential buyers on behalf of the seller, and they will keep track of all paperwork, disclosures, contracts and other important documents throughout the process.