The recent Spanish Peaks decision from the Ninth Circuit (covering Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon and Washington) deepens the split in case law on the ability to strip off leases in a landlord/borrower bankruptcy. This decision, which joins the Qualitech decision from the Seventh Circuit (covering Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin), may significantly impact and complicate sales in bankruptcy of real property for lenders and non-debtor tenants alike.
The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) announced on August 22, 2017, that it is expanding its earlier Geographic Targeting Orders (GTO) that require U.S. title insurance companies to identify the natural persons who are behind shell companies used to buy high-end residential real estate. The GTOs now will include the City and County of Honolulu, Hawaii.
In addition, the GTOs will capture a broader range of transactions and include transactions that involve wire transfers. This addition comes after the recent enactment of the Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act.
On August 11, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit decided the case of BC Ranch II, LP, et al., v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue, which involved charitable tax deductions based on the creation of conservation easements. After reviewing the record, the Fifth Circuit, in a split decision, disagreed with both the Commissioner and the Tax Court, placing heavy stress on the Internal Revenue Code’s public policy goals:
[T]he hope of adding untold thousands of acres of primarily rural property for various conservation purposes – acreage that would never become available for conservation if land-owning potential donors were limited to the traditional method of conveyance.
Search “Death of Retail” on Google.com and, as of July 26, you will get approximately 855,000 hits, many of which stress the negative impact that online sales and Amazon, in particular, have had on traditional retailers. However, predicting the future of the retail industry cannot be reduced to an easy slogan. Amazon itself is a retailer, and it is facilitating sales on its site by other retailers, including many that previously had difficulty bringing goods and services to market. Moreover, retail sales overall rose almost 4% in the past year, and the National Retail Federation expects growth to continue due to low unemployment and a strong stock market. Clearly, the retail industry is not in a meltdown, but it is experiencing great change, and the industry must adapt.
Data centers trigger visions of windowless, concrete boxes located at the periphery of suburban office parks. That perception may fade in the coming years. With new technologies, such as cloud computing, blockchain platforms, the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, big data and mobile apps demanding instant access to data, the industry is seeing global growth and innovation, including “micro” centers closer to end users, underwater and floating data centers, “mega” centers and green data centers.
The California Supreme Court’s recent Ardmore decision expanding the applicability of California’s Documentary Transfer Tax Act will no doubt be the source of future litigation. In their recent client alert, colleagues Craig A. Becker, Richard E. Nielsen, Breann E. Robowski and Dianne L. Sweeney examine the issue.
In California Supreme Court Decision Changes the Transfer Tax World, Pillsbury attorneys Craig Becker, Richard Nielsen, Breann Robowski and Dianne Sweeney discuss the California Supreme Court’s decision in 926 North Armore Avenue, LLC v. County of Los Angeles:
- Court concludes counties and cities are permitted to impose a documentary transfer tax on entity transfers that result in a Proposition 13 “change in ownership” under California Revenue & Taxation Code § 64(c) or 64(d).
In their recent client alert “CFIUS and Real Estate,” colleagues Nancy A. Fischer, Jenny Y. Liu, Matthew R. Rabinowitz examine how an influx of foreign investments in U.S. real estate has led three key U.S. Senators to request a review of how the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) examines real estate transactions.
Today, the U.S. Supreme Court held that there was no compensable taking of Petitioners’ property in Murr v. Wisconsin. Petitioners who own two adjacent lots along a waterfront in Wisconsin were not deprived of all economically beneficial use of their property. A formalistic approach to the issue was rejected. Instead of relying solely on lot lines, the Court considered fairness and factual analysis, noting its regulatory takings jurisprudence is based on flexibility.
The real estate industry is frequently identified as one of the most likely early adopters of blockchain technology and smart contracts. However, industry participants remain skeptical as to the timing and magnitude of the expected changes. That is understandable given the close association of blockchain technology with bitcoin controversies, other virtual currencies and some questionable crowdfunding ventures. Moreover, it is an emerging technology that includes confusing public, private and hybrid versions and involves imprecise terminology and standards. And smart contracts, which pre-date bitcoin, are still misunderstood and mistrusted.