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Legal Solutions for Real Estate Problems

Real estate brokers, investors, and other professionals in Florida often find themselves or their clients entangled in legal disputes. Since most real estate professionals do not have formal training in Florida law, it is wise to have immediate access to an attorney with experience handling multiple issues related to real property. Unfortunately, that is easier said than done.

In reality, dependable concierge legal services for the many issues that can arise with real estate is tough to find due to the variety of potential problems. Property owners still expect their brokers and managers to be problem solvers even if the issue does not technically fall within their job description. The solution is for stakeholders in real estate deals – like brokers and property managers to have access to a lawyer who can handle a diverse range of real estate matters, like specific performance actions (for failure of a transacting party to close), property damage insurance claims (for commercial or residential property), broker commission disputes, corporate (and managerial) disputes, and closings.

Rather than work with counsel who may only handle transactions, for example, it is prudent to build a relationship with an attorney who can competently and cost-effectively solve each and every problem that may arise.

· Specific Performance: Buyers and sellers of real estate in Florida have increasingly been forced to exercise their legal rights via pre-litigation negotiation and specific performance lawsuits when the other party to a deal has refused to close. With soaring values in Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, Collier, and Hillsborough Counties, sellers with remorse have become a growing problem for buyers. Similarly, buyers may refuse to close as the market cools. Indeed, homebuyers are cancelling deals at the highest rate since the pandemic began.[1] Attorney Daniel Smith has successfully compelled closings for buyers and sellers who had initially refused to close. “The goal is to be a deal maker, not a deal breaker,” says Mr. Smith. He adds, “sometimes it does take aggressive litigation to get the deal closed.”

· Property Damage Insurance Claims: In Florida, it is inevitable that commercial or residential properties will suffer from some type of damage, like fire, mold, roof leaks, burst pipes, or other water damage. Because many recent property owners are from out-of-state, they rely on the professionals around them to guide them through the communications with the insurance company. Insurers, however, are reluctant to pay for claims, and insurance lawsuits are on the rise. For example, insurance litigation is up nearly 50% between 2017 and 2021, with 2021 amounting to the most federal insurance case filings on record.[2] South Florida leads the nation in insurance lawsuits, of which hurricane cases made up about 26% in 2021. Attorney Daniel Smith previously defended insurers, but is now dedicated to representing policyholders. “The smart thing for people to do is understand what type of insurance coverage they have prior to the next big storm, and adjust, if necessary, to put themselves in the best position to be paid out for their claim,” he said. “It’s also worth noting that pursuant to Florida law, legal fees on these claims are usually paid directly by the insurance company, separate and apart from the payment for property damage, lessening the risk to the policyholder.”

· Broker Commission Disputes: Florida has a long history of legal disputes involving commissions to real estate deals. A robust body of case law exists in Florida that has traditionally been used to resolve these cases in court. That said, these matters have been increasingly going to arbitration given the language supportive of arbitration in Florida’s standard real estate contracts for purchases of property and case law favoring arbitration. Daniel Smith has served as legal counsel to some of the most successful real estate brokers in South Florida, helping them recoup their wrongfully withheld commissions.

· Corporate Disputes: When owners of real property are forced to confront each other over mismanagement or other wrongdoing, it is prudent to engage a lawyer. Indeed, disputes involving the management of real estate, sometimes referred to as “corporate divorces,” require careful tactical planning. Attorney Daniel Smith has experience assisting in disputes relating to the internal governance of joint ventures, limited liability companies (LLCs), corporations, and other enterprises of real estate.

· Closings: Although brokers are quick to work with a favorite lawyer on their closings, many of these “title attorneys” are hesitant to engage in the activities necessary to save a deal. Daniel Smith from the Salomon Smith law firm recommends using legal counsel equipped to fight if a deal may be going off the rails.

The bottom line is that few attorneys are willing to wear the many hats needed by real estate owners and professionals. This causes the needless hiring of multiple law firms, when most (if not all) legal issues concerning real estate can be addressed by a single office, like the Salomon Smith law firm. Daniel Smith and his team have decades of experience solving a diverse multitude of problems quickly and cost-effectively. Don’t hesitate to reach out by emailing or calling 305-297-1018.

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