Real estate covers a lot of ground. In my many years of practice, I’ve covered most of it, starting out with a major law firm in Atlanta in its real estate department. We represented the southeast’s biggest bank and its real estate investment trust. I closed dozens of home mortgages and participated in several workouts of large problem loans to Florida real estate developers, learning the real estate lending business and valuable negotiating skills.
Both proved applicable to the civil litigation and bankruptcy work that followed in a smaller law firm located in San Diego, representing outside bank directors in a suit by the FDIC (following what was then the largest bank failure in US history) and lenders involved with a failed hotel chain.
Then on to Beverly Hills as in-house counsel for a prominent publicly held homebuilder, where I discovered subdivision maps, Mello-Roos bonds, mass grading and utility installation, engineering calculations that worked on paper but not in the field, expansive soil slope failures in Mission Viejo, and ground water intrusion into living room conversion pits in Seal Beach. A new problem every day, and the joys of battling with contractors over back charges and retention payments.
Another stint in commercial real estate lending followed in a large Baltimore law firm, representing one of Maryland’s biggest banks, along with private placements of limited partnership interests in government subsidized housing.
Finally, it was time to open my own practice in Carlsbad, where I’ve been able to put to good use all my previous real estate experience as a real estate lawyer on the office side, in the courtroom, and at City Hall. Non-disclosure issues between home buyers and sellers are usually resolved through mediation. Home building and remodeling disputes tend to produce actual litigation. So do arguments over easement rights and encroachments, which require surveys and sometimes title research. Some clients need help with permits, zoning, and signage. I also handle real estate transactions, partition lawsuits, and mechanics liens from both sides of the table.
Custom homes ownership and title insurance including deeds, boundary disputes, easement disputes, and adverse possession. Easement lawsuits are particularly interesting from a purely legal viewpoint, and I have testified as an expert in the area. Successful adverse possession cases are rare in California, but I've done one. I've also been corporate counsel for a large homebuilder, which was an extremely valuable experience.