As the scarcity of real estate grows, the value of air rights has grown conversely, especially in areas of higher density. Air rights are normal elements of real property. As such air rights are a commodity, and the landowner can sell air rights just as easily as he or she can sell the minerals underneath the land.
Air rights refer to real estate space, specifically all or a portion of the air space above a parcel of land. Although that air space is not something that can be touched, it is still quantifiable, measurable and marketable. That air space is still real estate.
If you are having problems understanding the concept of air rights, consider that a farmer can sell the mineral rights to a parcel of land, while still retaining ownership of the land for farming. That same farmer may also sell the water rights that came with the land. That same farmer may also lease the land to a tenant farmer: the land remains in the original farmer's ownership, but the tenant farmer receives possession of the land. As you can see, the different facets of land and property rights can be separated. Air rights is just another facet of land.
Air rights most often apply to condominiums and space above railroads. The sale and purchase of air rights most often occurs in urban areas, where land is scarce and every inch of space is valuable.
Because air space entails more of a three-dimensional element, the sale or transfer of air rights will entail legal descriptions that refer to a datum, or recognized height marker.
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