Couzens Lansky offers a full service real estate practice, serving the needs of residential and commercial property owners, as well as municipalities, developers, builders, brokers, title companies, lenders, landlords and tenants. We assist our clients with all types of real estate matters, including commercial property acquisition, disposition and development, leasing, title insurance issues, financing, construction, zoning and use and environmental issues.
Boundary disputes can arise in the event of flawed deeds or property descriptions, unclear boundary lines or easement issues or historic use of a neighbor’s adjoining property. These disputes may be discovered during the course of due diligence investigations, or may not arise until after the property has already been purchased. Our real estate lawyers have the knowledge and experience to resolve these disputes in our clients’ best interests.
Commercial Acquisitions & Dispositions
Our real estate lawyers have decades of experience assisting owners and prospective purchasers with the acquisition and sale of all types of commercial property, including office buildings, shopping centers, hotels, manufacturing and industrial facilities, multi-unit dwellings and other residential developments. We work closely with our clients, as well as their advisers, brokers and lenders, to ensure that the transaction flows smoothly, from the initial exploration and analysis of a possible deal through post-closing matters and subsequent transactions during the life cycle of an investment. Our services include counseling regarding the following matters:
- Construction agreements
- Conveyance and closing documents
- Economic and tax incentives
- Environmental matters
- Formation and structuring of legal entities
- Purchase agreement preparation and review
- Survey matters
- Title examination and title insurance issues
- Zoning matters and land use
Commercial & Residential Property Development
Developing land into a commercial shopping center, office or industrial building, or residential development presents many challenges and traps for the unwary. We have the experience and expertise to help with each step of the process and we work with our clients to find creative, cost-effective solutions to the inevitable roadblocks along the way. We first assist our clients in purchasing the property and managing the due diligence process, which is critical in assuring that the development can ultimately be successfully completed. We bring many years of experience in addressing a wide range of matters including zoning issues, title and survey issues, environmental assessments, building and use restrictions, easements and, where appropriate, condominium documents for the proposed development. We can assist in identifying opportunities for and obtaining tax incentives to help with financing of the project. We have the knowledge and experience to assist both experienced developers and those taking on their first project with a broad range of issues, and are highly responsive to the daily twists and turns of a development project.
Our lawyers have experience representing licensed individual commercial and residential real estate brokers as well as large brokerage companies. We assist with corporate, employment, contract and business matters, along with a broad range of real estate issues which inevitably arise. We have been at the forefront of providing continuing education classes to commercial real estate brokers about their statutory lien rights under Michigan’s relatively new Commercial Real Estate Broker Lien Act, as well as counseling commercial brokers on the preparation, recording and enforcement of broker liens under this Act.
Over the years, the commercial lease has evolved into a sophisticated document containing a variety of complex provisions detailing the rights and obligations of the landlord and tenant regarding the leased premises. Our real estate lawyers have vast experience in negotiating, drafting and analyzing commercial leases, including rental of retail space within neighborhood and regional shopping centers, industrial/warehouse facilities and office suites. We regularly represent both landlords and tenants of commercial leases and ensure our client’s interests are protected.
Commercial Loan Modifications & Workouts
Our lawyers regularly counsel and represent both commercial borrowers and lenders in connection with workouts, loan modifications, deeds-in-lieu of foreclosure and mortgage foreclosures.
Condominium & Homeowners’ Associations
Our real estate lawyers advise numerous condominium and homeowners’ associations on matters relating to day-to-day governance, drafting and amending master deeds and by-laws, collections and lien and foreclosure issues. We also represent individual condominium unit owners of both homes and business properties.
We assist condominium developers with the development and formation of condominiums, including drafting the required documentation and providing counsel regarding complex condominium law issues.
Environmental laws can be complex and can affect real estate in a multitude of ways. Our real estate lawyers assist prospective purchasers, property developers, lenders, tenants and owners with environmental legal concerns in the acquisition, financing, development, leasing, maintenance and sale of undeveloped and developed land, including:
- Asbestos, lead paint and black mold
- Baseline Environments Assessments
- Compliance with environmental laws
- Contaminated property, including brownfields
- Contractual representations, warranties and indemnifications
- Development and permit issues
- Due care plans
- Engineering controls
- Phase I environmental site assessments
- Phase II subsurface investigations
- Restrictive land use covenants
- Water and indoor air quality
Land Use & Zoning
Our real estate lawyers assist property owners with zoning issues, including legal nonconforming structures and legal nonconforming uses (those that do not conform to current zoning regulations, but are grandfathered in due to prior existence). It is wise to engage experienced counsel early in the process of a zoning or land use dispute, so that a proper record with the municipality can be created and maintained.
We assist owners and managers of commercial property, apartments and condominiums with a variety of management matters, including:
- Negotiating, drafting, revising, analyzing and enforcing leases
- Drafting and advising on management agreements and other business contracts
- Zoning and environmental issues
- Non-payment and collections issues
- Other tenant issues
Property Taxes & Tax Appeals
We help our clients understand how real property is assessed, and offer advice to maximize exemptions in order to avoid payment of unnecessary state and county transfer taxes and to avoid uncapping of taxable value which could result in higher real property taxes. We also represent property owners in property tax disputes before local assessors and Boards of Review and in litigation before the Michigan Tax Tribunal.
Real Estate Financing
Our real estate lawyers have significant experience advising both borrowers and lenders in a multitude of financing transactions. We have represented borrowers and lenders in connection with multi-million dollar transactions relating to shopping center developments, office buildings and other commercial facilities and residential projects. Our clients include owners, developers and investors and commercial lenders. We also have experience with tax increment financing, as well as other tax credits and incentives in the development and rehabilitation of property.
We assist clients in the following types of financing transactions:
- Acquisition financing
- Commercial lending disputes
- Construction and interim financing arrangements
- Mezzanine financing
- Permanent mortgage financing
- Private equity
- Sale and leaseback
- Securitized (CBMS) loans
Real Estate Litigation
Our goal is to help our clients avoid disputes, but when disputes arise, we have the knowledge and skills to obtain the cost-effective results our clients seek. We confer with our clients at every stage of the litigation and work hard to achieve a successful result.
We regularly represent property owners in connection with administrative proceedings, settlement negotiations and alternative dispute resolution proceedings, as well as in state and federal courts throughout Michigan. We have successfully represented clients in a variety of real estate litigation matters, including:
- Arbitration and litigation of construction disputes
- Commercial and residential landlord/tenant disputes
- Creditors’ rights
- Easement and boundary disputes
- Judicial mortgage foreclosures
- Negotiation and resolution of construction claims
- Preparation and foreclosure of construction liens
- Real estate property tax appeals
- Representation of condominium associations
- Title insurance litigation, including title and mortgage fraud, unrecorded easements, property description errors and undisclosed prior mortgages and liens
- Zoning and title disputes
Residential Sales & Acquisitions
Residential transactions are often emotional experiences for clients. Our objectivity and experience can help keep clients calm and focused on understanding and managing risk and achieving their goals. Our seasoned real estate lawyers help clients with residential real estate transactions, involving primary residences, investment and vacation properties.
Title Insurance Disputes
We regularly represent insurers, lenders and property owners in a variety of title insurance issues, including land title disputes, insurance coverage disputes, corrective title work and litigation to resolve title insurance claims.
Water Rights, Roads & Easements
We help property owners and developers understand and protect the areas surrounding their properties including waterways, access to private and public roads, and easements. We have experience reviewing, drafting and revising agreements relating to property rights, including issues related to ownership, maintenance, legal property descriptions, payments and taxes.