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Philadelphia Real Estate Law Blog

Understanding the residential real estate process

When engaged in a residential real estate project, it is important for homeowners to be familiar with their rights and how to protect them. The residential real estate process can be complex and challenging, so having trained guidance throughout it can be helpful. It is important to be familiar with construction and real estate matters ranging from contract negotiations to breach of contract and other concerns.

Issues that may arise in the context of residential real estate and construction projects include mechanic's liens, which may require removal of a mechanic's lien or a mechanic's lien may need to be filed, issues with either licensed or unlicensed contractors, disputes with contractors, construction defects, breach of contract and help working with homeowner, townhome and condo associations.

Pennsylvania project receives zoning green light to move forward

In order to proceed with a building project or development, certain and necessary approvals must be made. Zoning laws are important to understand because they can have a tremendous impact on a proposed, planned or existing real estate or commercial real estate projects. It is essential for developers and individuals engaged in real estate or commercial real estate transactions to be well versed in local zoning laws and may also need to understand how to seek a variance from zoning laws or other ways to tackle zoning concerns.

A new development in a neighboring Pennsylvania community northwest of Philadelphia has received the necessary approvals for zoning in order to proceed. With the recent zoning approvals, the developer, a leading developer and investor in mixed-use and commercial real estate properties, can proceed with the planned development. The large and multi-faceted development will be centered around a public plaza that can be used for famers' markets, outdoor movies, exercise classes and other public uses. The development will include a 250,000 square foot office building with retail and dining as well as a hotel, parking structure and other features and amenities.

Understanding the complexities of commercial real estate

Real estate opportunities in commercial properties can be full of promise; however, it can present some challenges, and sometimes a planned acquisition can be more difficult than expected. There is a lot to know when negotiating a commercial real estate transaction so it helps to be familiar with as much of the process as possible. There are a number of important considerations to take into account during the commercial real estate process.

This blog recently discussed contract disputes and breach of contract concerns. It is important for parties to a contract, which may include buyers, sellers, parties to a commercial real estate transaction and tenants, to understand how to effectively manage a contract dispute. Additionally, it is also important to be prepared to effectively negotiate, draft, review and execute a contract for sell or purchase.

Understanding breach of contract

Contract disputes are a serious concern for many business and real estate transactions. In general, a breach of contract is the failure of one or both parties to a contract to perform promises in the contract. When a breach of contract has been claimed, the court must evaluate several considerations when determining if a contract breach occurred.

The court will consider if a valid contract existed; what obligations the parties had according to the contract; was the contract breached, was the breach material to the contract, was the contract modified, does the party in breach have a legal defense against enforcement of the contract and what damages were caused by the breach.

Property owners disputing pipeline ruled against in Pennsylvania

Property takings are significant concerns for property owners, which is why property owners should be familiar with the process. A Pennsylvania court recently ruled that a natural gas and liquid pipelines company is a public utility and is able to use eminent domain in the construction of a disputed pipeline in Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission has approved the project, and the natural gas company has been allowed to use eminent domain to secure land it needs for the pipeline project. According to the natural gas company, the processed fuel from the pipeline would be used in regional markets and shipped overseas.

What is an action to quiet title?

The term "title", in reference to real estate, refers to legal ownership of the property and the right to use the property. A defective title can be problematic related to the establishment of ownership. Difficulty establishing ownership can make resale efforts challenging or potentially interfere with the exercise of property rights. Actions to quiet title are actions to determine ownership of property and can resolve multiple or competing claims on property.

Potential problems with ownership or title can include claims of past ownership in situations when records were not accurately kept or an individual wants to make a claim through adverse possession, liens that have been placed on the property, which must be paid before the property can be sold and prior covenants of record, which refer to promises the original owner of the property may have made to another party that is recorded in the deed for the property.

Re-zoning comes to north Philadelphia

This blog recently discussed the importance of the zoning process when developing in Philadelphia, and how to obtain a zoning permit in Philadelphia. Revitalization in certain Philadelphia neighborhoods has been making an impact on the city. Both commercial developers and private residential developers have been developing North Philly. The revitalization has been met with mixed reactions from residents and businesses alike.

Recent changes to zoning laws from the city council, however, have focused more on residential single-family homes rather than commercial-mixed use and multi-family uses. The new ordinance ensures future residential projects will be single-family use unless the developer applies for and receives a zoning variance. The area has been drawing developers but residents have also expressed concerns related to extra noise, cars and other undesirable changes in the neighborhood.

Obtaining a zoning permit in Philadelphia

Zoning laws and regulations and the familiarity with these laws are important to businesses in Philadelphia and elsewhere. Zoning laws can have a significant impact on how a company does business and how it grows and expands. Understanding these laws and how to navigate them can be an important element of the success of a business.

Zoning permits are required for construction, including adding a new building. In general, it is important to keep in mind that in Philadelphia, zoning permits are required for all new construction, building an extension onto an existing structure, creating or subdividing a lot, demolishing or partially demolishing a structure, erecting billboards and certain signs, construction of masonry fences above two feet in height, creating off-street parking or reconfiguring existing parking and other situations related to signage and fence construction.

Concerns mount that private property is increasingly threatened

As recently discussed in this blog, there exist protections available to property owners in Pennsylvania and elsewhere when the government seeks to take their property through the eminent domain process. A concern is mounting that across the country more and more property owners are watching their property being taken for private use. The principle of eminent domain in the United States dates back to the 1800s. It allows the government to take private property for a public use. Public uses are commonly highways and railroads but could also include such public uses as post offices.

Based on recent reports, a growing number of local governments are using the government's power of eminent domain to take private property and build sports complexes, shopping centers and condos. Property owners must receive just compensation when their property is taken but a growing number of challenges to the requirement that the property be taken for public use are afoot. While some argue that eminent domain abuses are growing, the Supreme Court found that an economic benefit to the community could justify a taking and be counted as a public use.

Understanding protections in eminent domain situations

When the government attempts to take property from a property owner it can be an understandably significant and an alarming concern for that property owner. Property owners may have concerns that their property is being unfairly or unjustifiably condemned or that they are not receiving just compensation for their property. Property owners may be unfairly impacted by condemnations, unfair zoning schemes and condemnation actions.

Property rights are an important concern for property owners and should not be treated carelessly or taken lightly. If a property is being taken through the eminent domain process, it is important that the property owner receives just compensation, and they should also receive the maximum amount of relocation benefits available to them to help them through the challenging process of losing their property and relocating.

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