Articles Posted in Real Estate

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iStock-157310650-money-construction-264x300Most construction loans contemplate multiple advances or disbursements of funds at various stages of the construction project. The construction loan agreement will set forth the conditions that the borrower must satisfy to receive each advance of funds. Given that a construction loan concerns an active construction project, there is a risk that a lender could lose its lien priority in an advance (secured by the insured mortgage) to a mechanic’s lien. This post addresses how a title insurance policy and endorsements can insure against such a risk. Continue reading

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iStock-519917363-coastal-real-estate-300x203Climatologists predict that sea levels will continue to rise in the coming years and that temperatures will increase, causing the frequency and intensity of hurricane-like storms to grow. These scenarios present challenges for waterfront buildings and residences—both existing and new construction.

New properties are still being built along coastal areas. Some developers are marketing homes and buildings that are designed to withstand major storms. Property owners are taking costly measures to protect existing properties. In fact, in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, numerous companies now offer various flood protection measures for both residential and commercial buildings, such as paneling, barrier systems, gates, removable stop logs and raised foundations. Continue reading

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I recently wrote here about the use of UPREITs, a form of real estate partnership combined with a real estate investment trust, to create liquidity for high net worth real estate investors while allowing them to defer taxable gains on highly leveraged and appreciated real property.

Another tax deferral strategy that’s growing in popularity again because of higher tax rates is the use of 1031 exchanges. Named after the Internal Revenue Code section authorizing these transactions, they are also known as “like-kind” exchanges.

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iStock-520129622-umbrella-300x247There are two reasons why borrowing has become the tax-preferred method of financing a sophisticated real estate investment portfolio.

First is the ability to finance improvements with debt, which offers depreciation deductions. Second is the ability to make leveraged distributions through refinancing without paying immediate tax on the proceeds. The tax basis of assets steps up to fair market value at the time of the holder’s death, eliminating the deferred gain, so the income tax deferral upon a refinancing is even more attractive for heirs.

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Stored materials present a potentially serious point of tension between lenders and borrowers in the negotiation of a construction loan agreement. In construction lending, the term “stored materials” refers to the materials and items that are purchased in advance of their use and incorporation into the project. Those materials will need to be stored either on the project site or in a warehouse or other location “off-site.” Many lenders are wary about allowing funds to be used for stored materials because of the risk of loss off-site and, accordingly, may place conditions on the use of such funds. However, the borrower, usually through its general contractor, needs to purchase materials “in advance” to keep construction moving smoothly. For example, it would be completely impractical to require the general contractor to purchase the windows of a high-rise on a daily, as-needed basis.

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As any builder will tell you, it is impossible to know with certainty the exact amount a project is going to cost. Variables affecting the cost run the gamut from labor and material costs to delays for unforeseen conditions, weather or other causes. The longer a project is expected to take, the more uncertain the project’s costs become. For this reason, contingencies are included in budgets by all parties involved: owners, contractors, subcontractors and, occasionally, lenders. Ideally, these contingencies will allow the project to absorb delays and other unexpected events without the owner being forced to contribute additional equity (and “balance the loan”) at the time. The owner will desire maximum flexibility over the re-allocation of the contingency(ies) to line items that will then be funded by the lender—while the lender will want to “control” the use of contingency line items to the extent possible.

With this in mind, let’s look at some of the competing motivations at play and “typical” loan agreement provisions regarding the use (or re-allocation) of contingency(ies) to other line items in the Project Budget.

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Pillsbury would like to congratulate the winners of the “Built by Women” contest in DC, which highlights women’s contributions to the city of Washington D.C in the areas of architecture, engineering, womeninconstructionconstruction, and real estate. Categories include Civic, Commercial, Cultural, Institutional, Landscape, Mixed-Use, Residential, Transportation, Urban Design.  The Built By Women initiative was started by the Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation to celebrate the contributions of women to the built environment and to support women pursing building professions.

You can view the full list of winners on the BWAF website here.  Additionally, the National Building Museum will honor the winning sites in the historic Great Hall the weekend of March 19 and 20.  Congratulations to all of the winning women on your accomplishments and contributions to D.C.’s built environment.

Photo:  University Salford Press Office, Women in Construction – Creative Commons

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In PATH Act Changes to FIRPTA, Pillsbury attorneys Brian Wainwright and Bob Logan Taxesdiscuss
important changes to the U.S. federal income  tax treatment of U.S. real estate investments by non-U.S. persons under the Foreign Investment in Real Property Tax Act of 1980.

Additional Source: Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015 (the PATH Act, Division Q of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016, P.L. 114-113, enacted December 18, 2015); Technical Explanation of the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015, House Amendment #2 to the Senate Amendment to H.R. 2029 (Rules Committee Print 144-40)

 

Photo:  DonkeyHotey, Taxes – Illustration – Creative Commons

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In late March, a trial court in Bergen County, New Jersey dismissed a condominium association’s construction defect claims against several construction entities for failure to comply with the applicable statute of limitations. This decision’s appellate aftermath will be interesting to follow, because the trial court stripped away some of the protection that New Jersey’s discovery rule affords to property owners who become aware of latent defects well after a project is substantially completed.

Pursuant to the discovery rule, “a cause of action will be held not to accrue until the injury party discovers, or by an exercise of reasonable diligence and intelligence should have discovered that he may have a basis for an actionable claim.” Lopez v. Swyer, 62 N.J. 267, 272 (1973). And unlike some states, New Jersey’s discovery rule applies in contract cases involving latent construction and design defects. Torcon, Inc. v. Alexian Bros. Hosp., 205 N.J. Super. 428, 432 (Ch. Div. 1985). What this means is that the statute of limitations for design deficiencies and construction defects begins to run upon substantial completion. Mahoney-Troast v. Supermarkets General, 189 N.J. Super. 325, 329 (App. Div. 1983).

In Palisades at Fort Lee Condo. Ass’n v. 100 Palisade, 2014 N.J. Super. Unpub. LEXIS 743, *3 (Law Div. Mar. 31, 2014), construction was deemed substantially complete on May 1, 2002. The Association hired a consultant to perform inspections in November 2006, and in May 2007, the consultant issued a report identifying various construction and design defects. The Association, however, did not file a Complaint until March 2009, almost seven years after the date of substantial completion. The trial court held that although the Association’s claims may not have accrued until May 2007, when it received the report, it still had until May 2008 to file suit. The trial court stated, “[i]t has been well established in New Jersey case law that if the plaintiff has sufficient knowledge of its claim and there remains a reasonable time under the applicable limitations period to commence a cause of action, the action will be time barred if not filed within that remaining time.” Id. at *8. One of the reasons the court dismissed the Complaint is because the Association had one year to file suit after becoming aware of its potential claims.

The Palisades court cited to Torcon (another trial court opinion) for this proposition, although the Torcon court’s holding in this regard related to application of equitable estoppel in the context of a contractor’s misrepresentation or concealment of material facts. By contrast, the intent of New Jersey’s discovery rule is to toll the accrual of the statute of limitations, and the Association’s six-year statute of limitations should have commenced in May 2007, if that is the date when it knew or should have known that it may have claims arising out of defective construction.

Nevertheless, the Palisades decision should give pause to property owners and their attorneys to carefully monitor early signs of faulty workmanship, and to not assume that the discovery rule will automatically extend the six-year time period to bring claims for construction defects. A Notice of Appeal has been filed in Palisades and it will be interesting to see how the Appellate Division handles this issue.

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The 22nd edition of Pillsbury’s Newsletter: Perspectives on Real Estate features articles on energy consumption data reporting (AB1103 and 531), construction and risk management, new foreign tax withholding forms, chapter 9 and public-private partnerships.

Articles include:

The Fall 2012 Edition of Perspectives on Real Estate is edited by: Laura Hannusch, Peter Freeman, Christine Roch and Noa Clark and can be downloaded in its entirety by clicking here.