Real Estate Law Definition
The practice of real estate law involves a varied and often highly complex set of activities centering on sales and acquisitions, title, land use, environmental, development, leasing, finance, joint ventures, restructuring and workouts, and litigation. In today's environment, a full service real estate law firm should be able to offer expertise in the following areas:
- Sales and Acquisitions. The representation of buyers and sellers in the acquisition and disposition of the various kinds of real estate including office buildings, retail centers, hotels, industrial properties, residential properties, and manufactured housing communities.
- Title. The examination of title to real estate, evaluation of title exceptions, and negotiation of title insurance policies.
- Land Use and Environmental. Land use entitlements, due diligence investigations, Brownfield developments, and compliance with Environmental Laws and federal and state Endangered Species Acts.
- Development. The negotiation and preparation of development and construction agreements and the other documents required to develop and construct office buildings, shopping centers, mixed-use projects, free-standing units, and industrial sites.
- Leasing. The negotiation and preparation of office, retail, and industrial leases and long-term ground leases.
- Finance. The representation of lenders and borrowers in real estate secured loan originations, loan sales, and purchases and other debt arrangements, including permanent financings, construction loans, bridge loans, conduit loans, mezzanine loans, shared appreciation loans, and portfolios of non-performing loans.
- Joint Ventures. A very large proportion of real estate transactions involve joint ventures between capital sources and developers. Therefore, a real estate firm must be in position to structure and negotiate partnership agreements, limited liability company operating agreements, shareholder agreements, and other forms of joint venture arrangements and advise on the tax aspects of the transactions.
- Restructuring and Workouts. Not all real estate transactions are successful. Real estate lawyers therefore, must be in position to advise lenders, borrowers, partners, landlords, tenants, and developers when a transaction goes bad. This will involve transactional, bankruptcy, tax, and litigation work. It will include loan modifications, foreclosures, deeds in lieu of foreclosure, discounted loan payoffs, loan forbearances, REO sales, joint venture modifications, buy/sells, forced sales, lease and development modifications, bankruptcies, receivership actions, and guarantee actions.
- Litigation. Litigation in the real estate area involves the representations of real estate owners, buyers, sellers, lessors, brokers, lenders, and developers in, among other things, contract disputes, mechanics lien and construction disputes, eminent domain proceedings, title disputes, loan service and foreclosure issues, and bankruptcy.