Real Estate & Transactions
Real Estate is an important segment of Western Colorado’s economy. Whether it is a scenic mountain ranch, a home on the ski slopes, a residential subdivision, or investment property, experienced legal representation is essential to avoiding pitfalls and maximizing a property’s value. Karp Neu Hanlon offers a wide array of legal services to individual property owners, ranchers, government entities and the real estate development industry.
A good real estate investment begins with a well managed property acquisition. Karp Neu Hanlon specializes in representing buyers of real estate by structuring contractual relationships and undertaking appropriate due diligence. Our attorneys also provide valuable services to sellers by carefully tailoring contracts and deeds and helping resolve due diligence objections as they may arise.
The real estate contract guides what is for most persons the most expensive purchase of their lives. Our attorneys are skilled at drafting agreements for acquisitions large and small. This work spans the spectrum from drafting a real estate contract for a “for sale by owner” property to assisting a developer in negotiating agreements for a multi-phase acquisition. We also prepare deeds, financing documents, post-closing memoranda, and other agreements related to buying and selling real estate.
Due diligence is the process of vetting a property before purchase to identify potential problems and determine whether the real estate can accomplish the client’s goals. Our attorneys work closely with other real estate professionals – brokers, surveyors, planners, architects, and engineers – to help a buyer understand the financial, legal, regulatory, and development aspects of the property. We work to make deals happen by successfully resolving issues ranging from affordable housing and boundary encroachments to water rights and zoning compliance.
Once a buyer has concluded the property meets his or her specific goals, the contract must be “closed”. Karp Neu Hanlon is experienced with orchestrating complex closings, developing closing instructions and otherwise working with title and escrow companies.
Examples of Karp Neu Hanlon’s work on real estate acquisitions include:
- Working with an investment buyer to determine the state of land use entitlements.
- Working with a ranch buyer to acquire water rights for irrigating pastures.
- Working with a governmental entity to acquire substantial acreage to facilitate the enlargement of a reservoir.
- Working with a developer to acquire land to be subdivided for a residential development.
- Working with an oil and gas exploration company to acquire land and water rights.
- Working with a local community to acquire land to undertake a public/private partnership to provide commercial, residential and recreational amenities.
- Working with a local government and conservation non-profit to acquire land for open space and recreation.
Karp Neu Hanlon works with both the lender and borrower in real estate finance matters. Our firm represents private lenders who desire to finance real estate acquisitions or construction projects. Legal representation includes drafting Colorado specific forms and assisting the lender to perfect a security intent in the various forms of collateral for the loans. Our attorneys also apply their experience to negotiating appropriate loan documents for borrower with their lenders. This work can often prevent borrowers from unintended consequences of simply signing form documents that are inapplicable to their specific transaction.
Occasionally, a landowner finds that an existing use of property is at odds with local rules and regulations. Other times, a land owner desires to modify the existing use of his or her property in a way that does not conform with local codes. Karp Neu Hanlon works with landowners to navigate the regulatory process to obtain solutions that achieve the client’s goals. Our attorneys are also experienced in obtaining administrative waivers and practicing before municipal and county boards of adjustment.
In today’s real estate economy understanding the remedy of foreclosure is essential. For years, Karp Neu Hanlon has assisted private lenders with foreclosing on their security in the event of a default. Our attorneys have dealt with complex foreclosure scenarios including multi-county foreclosures, foreclosing water rights, challenges to the right to foreclose, and the appointment of receiver to maintain a property’s value. Karp Neu Hanlon also assists borrowers who risk default to understand the foreclosure avoidance opportunities available to them. On occasion, we have successfully assisted borrowers who are being wrongfully foreclosed by litigating against major banks.
For decades, Colorado has facilitated the development of real estate and the preservation of property values through the use of homeowner or commercial property owner associations. (“OA”) An OA is a legal entity that can be used to help finance subdivision infrastructure, manage and maintain common amenities (i.e. landscaping, parking areas, swimming pools) and that has the power to enforce restrictive covenants to preserve the value of property in a development. Karp Neu Hanlon is experienced with both forming and representing OAs. At the formation stage, this work includes drafting declarations of covenants, by-laws, restrictive language on a plat, and helping developer set up the management real estate transfer fee covenants and corporate structure for new OAs.
After the OA has been formed, Karp Neu Hanlon assists the member with transitioning control of the OA from the developer to the members, contracting with the management company, enforcing covenants, collecting assessments, redrafting and updating the covenants and by-laws, and staying current with recent Colorado Common Interest Ownership legislation.
Examples of Karp Neu Hanlon assisting clients with OAs include:
- Drafting declaration of covenants for an association and various sub-owner association on a large mixed use development.
- Working with a developer to exercise reserved rights under covenants and to modify OA governed planned unit developments.
- Enforcing covenant use restrictions against lot owners, including court orders directing compliance.
- Filing assessment liens and working with OA’s to recover past due accounts from both owner and mortgage lenders.
- Redrafting OA covenants and By-laws in light of recent Colorado legislation.
The assessment and taxation of real estate is a mixture of state statutes implemented by county level officials. Recent fluxuations in property values and the need of government entities to increase revenue have increased the importance of property owners making sure that the valuation process has been properly applied to their land. Karp Neu Hanlon works with property owners to evaluate the correctness of property tax valuation and when appropriate challenge a valuation and/or seek an abatement for property taxes erroneously liened.
Increased scrutiny is also being given to the agricultural tax statues of many properties. State law provides generous tax advantages for the owners of agricultural land which is actually used in a for profit agricultural venture. Karp Neu Hanlon has extensive experience consulting with landowners to determine whether agricultural tax status may apply to their properties and developing plans to obtain agricultural tax status. Our attorneys have also challenged the loss or denial of agricultural tax status at both the County and State level.
Sometimes, the best efforts of a client and an attorney cannot resolve a real estate dispute without litigation. Karp Neu Hanlon has broad experience in dealing with real estate issues before the courts, including representing clients in the trial courts and on appeal.
Real estate litigation can take many shapes. Karp Neu Hanlon has successfully worked with clients on wide ranging litigation such as:
- Litigating a trespass case against a neighbor who located a commercial operation on the client’s property.
- Litigating a quiet title case against a prior owner who claimed an interest in the property.
- Litigating the right to use easements across property and restrictions on holders of easements who seek to expand their scope of use.
- Litigating the efficacy of deed restrictions imposed by a municipal government.
- Litigating the breach of a deed warranty for failure to properly subdivide property.
- Litigating breach of lease agreements and evictions.
- Colorado ski areas
- Government entities acquiring land for public projects
- Golf course developers
- Residential subdivision developers
- Big box retail developers
- Oil and gas exploration companies
- Farmers & ranchers
- Purchasing a mountain retreat
- Private lenders