Destin Law’s real estate and land use attorneys provide high-level legal services for developers, investors, lenders, landlords, condominium communities, multi-use developments and resorts. We have a holistic team approach in planning the structure of real estate transactions, acquisition, development, sale, leasing of property and provide reliable legal advice along with the document preparation.
Our real estate clients include developers, brokers, landowners, architects, construction companies, lenders, banks, property management firms, major tenants, and government authorities.
Much of the firm’s practice is in someway involved with real estate. On the litigation side, it involves construction disputes, title disputes, boundary disputes, pre-construction contract disputes, and breach of contract claims. Real estate is the lifeblood of Florida’s panhandle and Destin Law is intricately involved is all its aspects.
Ad Valorem Value Adjustments
During the month of August taxing authorities mail each property owner a Notice of Proposed Property Taxes. If you have any questions about your property’s value or how it was determined, you are encouraged to contact the property appraiser’s office. After meeting with an appraiser and examining the relevant data, you have the right to file a petition with the Value Adjustment Board (VAB). Matthews & Jones, LLP can be an essential part of this process.
Florida law does not favor acquiring real property rights via adverse possession; however, it does provide an avenue to do so in order to reward and protect those who have continued in possession of land for a requisite period of time (specified by statute) both with and without “color of title.”
Commercial or Industrial Development
Destin Law is a vital member of your project team to coordinate all aspects of the development from land acquisition, project entitlements, project financing and sale and lease of the developed product. Our attorneys represent banks and other lending institutions in making construction loans, and prepare and negotiate the documents necessary to finance all types of commercial property development. For our developer clients, we are instrumental in the acquisition, development and financing of single-family communities, multi-family residential projects, office buildings and shopping centers.
Commercial and retail leasing
Whether you are a landlord or a tenant, Matthews & Jones, LLP provides services related to the leasing of commercial and retail spaces. Our experience includes negotiating most types of operating leases, build-to-suit leases, ground leases and subleases for free-standing and pad sites, as well as related easement agreements. In addition, our multi-disciplinary approach to business makes us well-suited to counsel our clients on complex disputes, if needed.
Condominium and Homeowner Associations
We provide services to condominium associations in a variety of areas including creation, operation and control, turnover of condominium associations, collection of unpaid assessments, and recordings of claims of lien. Additionally, on behalf of our clients we’ll file lawsuits against owners to collect unpaid assessments and to foreclose claims of lien.
Destin Law also provides services to homeowners associations in a variety of areas including, but not limited to, creation, operation and control, and turnover of homeowners associations, collection of unpaid assessments, recording of claims of lien, and to file lawsuits against owners to collect unpaid assessments and to foreclose claims of lien.
Deed Rescission and Other Disputes
Under Florida law, there are a number of circumstances in which someone may attempt to rescind, cancel, or even reform a deed to real property. Rescission or cancellation is the process under which a court terminates, cancels, rescinds or nullifies a contract or other instrument (including a deed to real property) placing the parties back where they were prior to that instrument (restoration got the status quo). Reformation is designed to correct instruments and deeds which are defective or erroneous in some way, so that the newly reformed document accurately captures the true intent of the original contracting parties.
Circumstances where these types of relief may be available are those which include instances of fraud, duress, undue influence, mistake, frustration of purpose, impossibility of performance, incapacity or illegality.
Destin Law’s team of attorneys can boast over 100 years combined transactional and regulatory experience in the areas of zoning, entitlements and land use planning, and environmental matters. We strive to build long-term value in our client relationships through a team approach to the services we offer and are well-suited to counsel clients through virtually every stage of a development project. We can provide legal advice related to all property types and industry sectors.
Services include, but are not limited to:
- Obtaining Development Agreements
- Development Orders
- Land Use Variances and Waivers
- Other Development Matters
Our team has appeared on behalf of clients before regulatory bodies including the City of Destin, Okaloosa and Walton County Commissions, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, and the Florida Department of Transportation.
Distressed Assets and Distressed Debt
In today’s marketplace, the most sophisticated parties are bargain-hunting. At Matthews & Jones, LLP, we represent a vast array of constituent parties in distressed asset transactions. Whether it is real estate or other security, we have negotiated, engineered, and closed the liquidation of numerous businesses and estates. We work regularly with lenders trying to free themselves from onerous regulatory shackles and with debt purchasers and assignees as they conduct their due diligence regarding instruments in various stages of default. Our clients include lenders and other creditors, borrowers, developers, owners, equity investors and other key constituents.
We are mindful of the economic conditions creating markets for distressed assets and distressed debt. Sellers and purchasers should be aware of the pitfalls associated with such transactions, such as entitlement status, claims and defenses between or among adverse parties, and potential third party claims. Purchasers must understand that they are, in many circumstances, stepping into the shoes of their sellers and assuming potentially devastating risks. Sellers must be certain their conveyances and assignments are free from the threat of potential future repercussions. Parties in distressed asset and debt sales should engage counsel familiar with navigating such treacherous waters. From due diligence and financing, to litigation and bankruptcy, our lawyers are equipped to meet our clients’ objectives.
Eminent Domain and Condemnation
The terms eminent domain, condemnation and taking are all terms that refer to the power of the federal or state government to take private property for a public purpose, even if the property owner objects. The Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution allows the government to take private property if the taking is for a public use and the owner is “justly compensated” (usually, paid fair market value) for his or her loss. A public use is virtually anything that is sanctioned by a federal or state legislative body, but such uses may include roads, parks, reservoirs, schools, hospitals or other public buildings. Matthews & Jones, LLP can play an essential role in negotiating with the government authority in negotiating the amount of “just compensation.”
Environmental and Regulatory Permitting
Destin Law represents large and small businesses, developers and individuals in all areas of environmental permitting, regulatory compliance, litigation and due diligence. Our attorneys work closely with our clients’ environmental consultants and experts to minimize and manage environmental liabilities and risks in connection with real estate transactions, development of residential, multi-family, retail and commercial developments and obtaining environmental permits and entitlements. Our attorneys maintain close working relationships with the local, regional and state regulators. We provide services to clients in obtaining permits from the Florida Department of Environment Protection and the United States Army Corps of Engineers, including, but not limited to Wetland Use Permits, Submerged Land Leases, Conservation Easements and Wetland Mitigation.
Florida Marketable Record Title Act (MRTA)
Generally speaking, if a defect in title is over 30 years old, under some circumstances it may be ignored or declared null and void if it predates the root of title. The root of title is usually a deed, judgment or certificate of title of record for at least 30 years which contains an accurate legal description and sufficiently describes the interest conveyed. MRTA is an extremely technical statutory scheme and has several exceptions.
Large businesses are increasingly playing a part on the global stage. Navigating complex international laws has become ever more important for a thriving company, and is especially important for foreign investment opportunities. The attorneys at Matthews & Jones, LLP can guide you through the complex processes required for foreign investments and international transactions.
Landlord and Tenant Relations
Regardless of if you’re a landlord or a tenant, our attorneys can provide services related to the leasing of residential, commercial and retail spaces, including, but not limited to, lease negotiations, lease to purchase agreements and evictions.
Lenders and borrowers alike are forced to adjust to the constantly changing economic environment. At this critical juncture, lenders and borrowers must work together to ensure the continuing viability of their respective businesses. With our extensive experience representing borrowers and lenders, the attorneys at Matthews & Jones, LLP know how to help our clients survive the worst financial meltdown since the Great Depression.
The workout and restructure process is more than simply adjusting payment schedules. Loan workouts often form the foundation of a venture’s survival and, hopefully, turnaround into a profitable enterprise. Parties in a workout scenario need counsel familiar with the operating aspects of a going concern.
Lenders need assistance seeking thoughtful, practical solutions for turning a problem loan into a performing loan.
Borrowers and operators need help avoiding the pitfalls of overly aggressive workout terms and onerous operating conditions.
We can help both lenders and borrowers craft financial, operational, and legal solutions to problem relationships. At Matthews & Jones, LLP, we guide our clients through the workout and turnaround process from start to finish.
Mortgage Foreclosure Defense
Generally speaking, unless a potential real estate purchaser has enough cash to buy property outright, it will probably apply to a bank for a loan. As security (collateral) for that loan, most banks require the purchaser to sign a mortgage. By initiating a foreclosure action on the mortgage through Florida Circuit Court (and in some instances Federal District Court), the bank is seeking to regain the balance of the monies loaned that have not yet been repaid through forcing a sale of the property. In the event the bank institutes foreclosure proceedings, borrowers have several options at their disposal including attempting to negotiate and defending the foreclosure.
Planning, Zoning and Entitlements
As governmental regulation increases in the areas of planning, zoning and land development, the employment of sound legal counsel is essential in achieving your land use objectives. Many landowners, developers, financial institutions, and local and municipal governments rely on the attorneys of Matthews & Jones, LLP for our commitment to extending creative solutions within a changing environment. Our attorneys maintain working relationships with government officials and staff at local, regional, and state levels that prove crucial to moving land use projects forward.
Private Property Rights
Destin Law views your private property rights paramount to maintaining your financial well-being. If your private property rights have been infringed upon by the government, a private citizen or a business, we’ll fight for your rights both in and out of court.
Quiet Title Actions
Chapter 65 of the Florida Statutes deals with removing “clouds” from title to real property. The ultimate goal of a quiet title action is to clear title of a subject property in the public records in favor of the claimant.
Real Estate Finance
The Matthews & Jones, LLP transactional team works to assist you in finance law matters such as real estate acquisition, construction and permanent lending, leasehold mortgage financing, retail financing, subordinated debt and mezzanine lending, workouts and foreclosure proceedings, multi-state loan transactions, and representation of borrowers in all facets of real estate financing transactions.
Real Estate Closings and Transactions
Destin Law provides real estate closing services to buyers and sellers for the sale and purchase of residential and commercial property.
Services include, but are not limited to:
- Negotiation and Preparation of Purchase and Sale Agreements
- Preparation of Title Transfer Documents
- Deed For Fee Simple Property
- Assignment of Lease for Leasehold Property
- Escrow Services
The Matthews & Jones, LLP team of attorneys have extensive experience in the areas of single family residential subdivisions, condominium law and condominium conversions. We have a wide range of experience representing developers, owners and lenders in connection with the development of new projects from the ground-up, as well as with acquisitions, conversions of condominiums, commercial condominiums and mixed-use projects.
We advise clients on virtually every aspect of acquisition, development and conversion including investment structuring, financing, construction, and the negotiation and documentation of management and services agreements between the owner and operator for hotel properties, condominium hotels, destination resorts, and specialty golf, ski and marina developments.
We help structure flexible, well-considered management arrangements and advise on appropriate relationships between various project components. Our team has experience with fractional and private residence club projects. We also provide counsel on the structure of rental programs and advise on regulatory compliance for matters related to sales, licensing and advertising.
A restrictive covenant is a limiting clause in a real estate deed that prevents certain types of development. It is crucial, therefore, that developers know all restrictive covenants and understand their potential impact. The attorneys at Matthews & Jones, LLP have extensive experience in real estate and land use, and can guide you through the labyrinth of land use regulations that may affect the value of a piece of property you’re interested in purchasing or selling. We also represent clients who wish to change land-use designations by advocating on their behalf to local and state governing bodies.
Retail and Mixed-Use Development
Our seasoned professionals have shepherded major mixed use developments through the development process, making what can often be a tedious and bumpy process smoother and faster for our clients. No project is too large or too small. We advise clients on virtually every aspect of the development process, including finding viable site locations, due diligence, contract negotiations, permitting, licensing and litigation. From the largest mixed use developments on the Emerald Coast to smaller retail malls, we’ve assisted various developers from around the country.
Riparian and Littoral Rights
Riparian and Littoral Rights refer to rights which are unique to certain waterfront property owners. The term riparian refers to those rights which are connected to lands which front on a river or stream, whereas the term littoral references rights appurtenant to lands fronting on an ocean, sea or lake. Under Florida case law, these types of rights include not only the right to use the water shared by the public, but also the right to access the water, the right to use the water for navigation, the right to acquire accretions and relictions, the right to an unobstructed view, ingress/egress rights, and other various rights associated with Florida waterways and beaches including but not limited to boating, fishing, swimming and the like.Locally, riparian and littoral rights have become a central issue of public discussion, especially in light of the local case which just recently was taken up to the United States Supreme Court (Stop the Beach Renourishment, Inc. v. Florida Dept. of Environmental Protection).
A Short Sale is a sale of real property in which a lender allows the property securing a mortgage to be sold for less than the existing loan balance due to factors such as (i) the borrower’s financial circumstances; (ii) the lender’s overall position; (iii) property’s physical condition; and (iv) local economic and real estate market conditions. Falling behind on your mortgage payments and trying to come up with a solution to the problem can be extremely stressful. Therefore, in many circumstances, it makes sense to consult with an attorney about your property and the potential solutions that are available to you, including a short sale. Whether you are the seller or the buyer in a short sale transaction, Matthews & Jones, LLP can provide assistance and guidance through the process from start to finish.
Matthews & Jones, LLP is an approved agent with Chicago Title Insurance Company, Fidelity National Title Insurance Company and First American Title Insurance Company. Title Insurance is an indemnity insurance against financial loss from defects in title to real property and from the invalidity or unenforceability of mortgage liens. It is meant to protect an owner’s or a lender’s financial interest in real property against loss due to title defects, liens or other matters. It will defend against a lawsuit attacking the title as it is insured, or reimburse the insured for the actual monetary loss incurred, up to the dollar amount of insurance provided by the policy.
Title, Boundary and Easement Disputes
Real property disputes can occur in a variety of forms, whether it’s over the actual fee simple title (legal ownership), the boundaries of the parcel in relation to neighboring parcels and/or bodies of water, or even rights of access and use in form of easement rights. Surveying in Florida is not an exact science and there are occasions where different surveyors or maps lead to disagreements about proper boundary lines between neighboring landowners. Commonly misunderstood, easement rights do not amount to “fee simple title” ownership of a particular area of land, but rather simply provide a right to utilize the property of another for a specific purpose.
Types of Title Insurance Coverage:
Owners – The owner’s policy assures a purchaser that the title to the property is vested in that purchaser and that it is free from all defects, liens and encumbrances except those which are listed as exceptions in the policy or are excluded from the scope of the policy’s coverage. The liability limit of the owner’s policy is typically the purchase price paid for the property.
Lenders – This is sometimes called a loan policy and it is issued only to mortgage lenders. The policy provides coverage to the lender to cover losses from the following matters: (i) The title to the property on which the mortgage is being made is either not in the mortgage loan borrower, subject to defects, liens or encumbrances, or unmarketable; (ii) there is no right of access to the land; and (iii) the lien created by the mortgage is invalid or unenforceable, is not prior to any other lien existing on the property on the date the policy is written, or is subject to mechanic’s liens under certain circumstances.
To get in touch with our professionals regarding your situation, call us at (850) 837-3662 or fill out the form below.