Real Estate Law
The real estate of the Central Coast is beautiful and highly desirable. We understand the unique considerations of the area and have a vested interest in protecting and representing buyers, sellers, brokers, agents and land owners in this region because we live here too. We are your neighbors. And we have been for more than 40 years.
We tailor our approach to each client’s unique needs and goals. Our background in real estate law enables us to handle routine matters, such as real estate sales and purchases, to more complicated situations ranging from initial development, zoning and land use questions, to disputes with homeowners associations, adjoining land owners water rights, and cases of misrepresentation in the sale of property. Regardless of the type of real estate issue you have encountered, with more than 40 years of serving the Central Coast, we have the experience to assist you. And with that experience comes knowledge – knowledge we want to share with you. Things like what to expect when facing a red tag violation, tips for first time home buyers, and more. If you a specific question not listed, please contact us and we can discuss your options and how we can help.
What are some tips for first time home buyers?
We recommend using a qualified and reputable real estate agent to assist you in finding a property appropriate for your needs and financial circumstances. This is often advisable to select an agent to work for you as the buyer to find properties for your consideration and pre-qualify you for financing then to try and search for properties yourself.
I have a buyer/seller lined up. Do I really need a real estate agent?
Some buyers and sellers prefer not to use the services of a real estate agent to save the expense of a sales commission. This can be a situation where you wind up penny wise and pound foolish. Real estate agents are trained to make visual inspections and disclose factors that affect the price and desirability of the property; are trained in preparing the necessary contracts and disclosures to assure legal compliance; and have the expertise and know how to coordinate with lenders and the escrow company to ensure the sale closes. Most buyers and sellers are best advised not to try this without using a real estate agent. We will be happy to advise whether your situation might be one of the rare ones where you could consider not using a real estate agent.
I want to rent or lease my property. What do I do?
The first thing is to make sure you have the right to rent or lease your property and if there are any restrictions on rental or lease terms. Once you know what you can do (and a lawyer can assist you in finding out), then you should have a written argument with your tenant or sub-tenant outlining both parties’ rights and obligations. If you chose to use a pre-printed lease or rental agreement, make sure it covers all important elements adequately. Attorneys are skilled at reviewing and preparing such documents.
How do I deal with a neighbor with a boundary dispute?
Nothing spoils the joy of property ownership like a dispute over ownership with a neighbor. Our practice is to make a factual and legal investigation in order to be able to advise you of your legal rights. We try to approach these situations knowing that you will still have to live next to your neighbor when the problem is resolved. Generally, our informal approach is best to attain the best long-lasting results but not always.
How do I respond to a threating letter from my homeowners association?
You want to avoid making the problem worse by ignoring the letter or responding inappropriately. It may suffice to provide a copy of the letter to your insurance agent to see if the threat is covered by your insurance. It is probably also a good idea to consult an attorney knowledgeable in real estate law to advise you.
I want to remodel or add on to my house. What do I need to know?
First, determine whether you want to do is limited by any applicable general plan or zoning restrictions, CC&R’s, or deed restrictions. If you are using on architect, building designer, or licensed general contractor, these individuals should be enlisted to find this information for you. This would include any required set-backs or height restrictions.
Second, if you are using an architect, building designer, or contractor, make sure to have a written agreement specifying scope of work, total cash, how changes will be handled, payment schedule, restrictions and hold-backs, lien releases and insurance. Be especially careful to make sure there is adequate workers’ compensation insurance coverage and that the change-order process is carefully thought out.
Third, make sure responsibilities for obtaining any and all necessary building permits and inspections is clearly delineated, and follow up to make sure all required permits are obtained before construction begins.
What determines the allowed or forbidden use of my property?
The most common determinate is the general plan and zoning for your property. Next would be any use permits or conditions for development issued for the property. If the property is in a planned development or homeowners association, the CC&Rs (covenants, conditions and restrictions), affecting the property would be important. And finally, there may be restrictions set forth in the deed to the property or in documents subsequently recorded that affect the property.
I have received a red tag violation, what do I do next?
Red tags are issued for a variety of reasons, some are easily correctable; others are not. Our office can generally assess the scope of what will likely be entailed to fix the problem and we may recommend working with a land use consultant primarily, or in addition to a lawyer.
How do I work with the City to green light my development project?
Every project benefits from a strategy to gain approval from the permitting authority and stakeholders. This could be as simple as having a meeting with planning staff as a preliminary step before much of any effort is committed to embarking on a project. Or it could be as complex as having to coordinate neighborhood meetings to explain the project to neighbors and developing a strategy as to how to craft the project to win approval by planning authorities. Our office has experience on teams that have been assembled to obtain favorable consideration of larger or more controversial projects.
Will the current drought in California affect my water rights?
There is the potential that California’s entire system of water rights could force a complete overhaul in response to prolonged drought. This is a situation requiring careful monitoring.