|Looking for law in all the wrong places||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: Sherri Rosenthal (enocommonscompuserve.com)|
|Date: Wed, 23 Jun 1999 23:24:34 -0500|
Dear All, I think John makes a good point about real estate being governed by state law, which varies quite a bit. That's why, in my opinion, "model documents" from another state should be used mainly for ideas about what covenants and other substantive provisions others have found worthwhile, and for language on how to effect these provisions. I think the 'boilerplate' should come from an in-state attorney and be pretty mainstream. My perspective is to blend with the mainstream as far as possible, hew to the conventional legal and financial structures as much as possible, and only deviate if it is necessary to achieve a significant goal of the group. Advice on looking for a good lawyer: 1. Get a free consultation. Ask open ended questions and listen to the answers. Part of what you are paying for with an attorney is peace of mind. Do you have that kind of solid feeling about the attorney? 2. Simple is better. If the lawyer you interview makes everything sound very complex and intimidating, I would look elsewhere. Do you understand what the attorney says? Can you get answers to your questions that you understand and feel comfortable with? 3. You may need more than one attorney. During development, you need an attorney to do subdivision work (See #4.) You'll also need help with business formation and advice on keeping organizational records for your form of corporation or organization. This may be from the same attorney, but it's likely that it will be a different attorney with this sort of specialization. After move in, it is adviseable for the Homeowner's Association to create a relationship with an attorney who can then be called when questions come up. Good candidates for this kind of representation are likely to have experience advising non-profit organizations and other Homeowner's Associations. Again, ask for references and call them. It is adviseable to set up in initial meeting with this attorney about recommendations he or she has to fulfill the necessary record keeping requirements, and state and federal tax and corporate filing requirements. 4. All "real estate" lawyers are not created equal. Many attorneys specialize in residential real estate closings. You want someone with expertise in the legal aspects of developing subdivisions, which includes zoning, site plan approval, and subdivision documents. You may want to talk to references, especially the developers of prior subdivisions that the prospective attorney has worked with. In our city, I used a state certified real estate specialist who had the kind of experience I outline above. He also happened to be one of the attorney's who regularly donates time to represent the homeless shelter for families and for Habitat for Humanity. While he doesn't do business formation, another attorney in that firm specializes in that. By the way, while I am an attorney, and I did the drafting of documents to cut down on cost, I would not represent myself on real estate matters. Similarly, unless you have a group member who is a real estate specialist, for example, it is foolhardy to have one of your group members handle these tasks, even if he or she is an attorney. Most of this stuff is formulaic, but like in most things, the trick is in recognizing when the formula works and recognizing when the formula needs tweaking. Those seemingly little tweaks can be key. Sorry this is such a long post. Hope it is of some use. Best, Sherri Zann Rosenthal Developer of Eno Commons Cohousing Durham, NC
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