Justia Lawyer Rating
Super Lawyers
Avvo Client's Choice
Avvo 10
Lawyers of Distinction
Million Dollar Advocates Forum
Expertise Badge

Real Estate Law

As real estate forms one of the largest bases of wealth for many individuals and business, disputes over real estate frequently occur because there is so much at stake. Real estate litigation is the formal process of resolving disputes over the ownership, use, sale, and development of real property.

An experienced real estate litigation attorney can advise you both about your legal rights, and about your options to ensure that you receive a suitable outcome for your situation. Frequently, parties are aware of only some of their rights, and lose out on valuable opportunities by failing to thoroughly investigate the situation.

Parties retain the firm to assist with these disputes through the use of informal negotiation, mediation, or trial. When important property rights are at stake, the firm is there to ensure that your rights are respected.

Partition Actions

When more than one party owns property, and the parties cannot agree what do with the property, then a partition action may be a good solution. These actions are common when one party wants to stay in the property and the other wants to sell, or when one party wants to buy-out the other but the parties cannot agree on a price. In these situations, a partition by private sale, a partition by appraisal, or a partition in kind may be appropriate under the circumstances.

A partition action is a forced sale of property by one of the co-owners under court supervision as part of the legal system. These actions often arise from joint ownership of real estate that has led to a dispute between the co-owners. Often, an owner of commonly owned property will feel like they are being held hostage to a difficult co-owner. Fortunately, the law contains a method to end the joint ownership, and provides a path to a fresh start.

Partition actions most often result from joint ownership problems falling into four broad categories:

  • Father/Mother-Son/Daughter co-owners in real estate;
  • Brother-Sister co-owners in real estate;
  • Investor-Investor co-owners in real estate; and
  • Non-Married Romantic Partners shared co-owners in real estate;

When one of these types of co-owners decides to initiate a partition action, then there are well-known stages to the partition lawsuit. Generally, a partition action has four stages, which include (1) the filing of the lawsuit, (2) the determination of the parties’ interests, (3) the appointment of a referee and the sale of the property, and (4) the division of the proceeds from the sale.

Eminent Domain Law

A real estate purchase is a smart investment in the future. When the government starts eyeing your land, it can feel like your future is at risk. You feel outnumbered and overwhelmed. The government has appraisers, experts, planners, and lawyers on their side, and you feel like you’d like to even the odds just a little bit. When you worry that you’re missing something during the eminent domain process, our firm can help.

Eminent domain is the power of a governmental entity to take private property for public use. As contained in both the United States and California Constitutions, the power of eminent domain is both very powerful but also contains certain limitations that governmental entities must respect.

Although many people believe that the eminent domain process begins and ends in the courtroom, the savvy property and business owner would be well-served to consult with counsel well in advance of the service of an eminent domain lawsuit.

The eminent domain process can impact property owners, even in advance of an official court order, by limiting the use of the property, a property owner’s ability to use it comfortably, and preventing its planned development. As a result, it is invaluable to have a knowledgeable eminent domain attorney to assist with the process from the beginning.

Quiet Title Actions

A “quiet title” action determines who the true owners of a property are under the law. These types of actions are common where there are disputes as to the ownership of real property, such as involving breaches of contract, real estate fraud, and easement disputes.

A common type of “quiet title” action is commonly known as a “Marvin” claim. A Marvin agreement is an implied or express contract made between two nonmarried cohabitants/partners regarding property rights during the romantic relationship. Under a California Supreme Court case known as Marvin v. Marvin (1976) 18 Cal.3d 660, 674, adults who voluntarily live together may validly share property rights with each other despite the lack of a marriage license.

Surplus Land Act

You’ve run the numbers, and it pencils, but the process is complicated. The purchase of surplus land is much more involved then other development sites. You know that some of the best land is in developed urban areas, and no one is making any more of it. You see that publicly-owned urban land presents a great opportunity, but need advice on how to navigate a process that is more complicated than usual. When the opportunity is there, and you know you need to get it right, the Firm is there to guide you through it.

In 2019, California passed into law AB 1486 (Ting 2019) to connect developers interested in building affordable housing with surplus local public land that is both available and proper for housing development. Under AB 1486, local agencies (cities, counties, and special districts) must send notices about available surplus land to (a) California’s Housing and Community Development Department, (b) any local public entity within the jurisdiction where the surplus local land is located, and (c) developers who have notified HCD of their interest in developing affordable housing on surplus local land.

In April 2021, the State of California issued the Final Surplus Land Act Guidelines that provide updated definitions of “Surplus Land.”

Generally, “surplus land” means land owned in fee simple for which a local agency’s governing body takes formal action at a regular public meeting declaring land to be surplus and not necessary for a local agency’s use.

Under Government Code section 54230, each city and county must make a central inventory of all surplus land before December 31 of each year, and all land in excess of its foreseeable needs in urbanized areas as identified under Government Code section 50569.

Since the late 1960s, California has required that all local governments plan to meet the housing needs of everyone in the community, which is generally accomplished by adopting “housing plans” as part of a local government’s general plan.

In 2019, California’s Governor signed Executive Order N-06-19 to make excess state land available for development of affordable housing, AB 1486 strengthened enforcement of the Surplus Land Act, and AB 1255 required cities and counties to inventory and report on excess public lands in a statewide inventory. As a result, developers and builders can access the expanded Surplus Land Inventory here.

As the population of California continues to grow, and the number of necessary housing units grows correspondingly, the value of land can only grow with it. Often, surplus land is located near the center of cities and other developed areas, which only further increases its value. Those developers able to successfully access Surplus Land will have a benefit in the different options available to their businesses.

The Firm assists developers with the process of acquiring and negotiating the purchase of surplus land throughout the State of California. If you or your firm find that you are interested in acquiring Surplus Land, but need assistance to ensure that it is done properly, contact the Firm to be with you every step of the way.

Client Reviews
“We were in need of a real estate attorney. Eli Underwood provided excellent legal advice and services. He explained everything well and followed through with all important issues that needed attention. We found him to be reliable, courteous, patient and extremely professional. We highly recommend Mr. Underwood without any reservations.” I.S.
"I own a real estate investment company that operates across multiple states (California, Washington, Oregon, Montana, and more), whenever I run into an issue that needs legal attention, Eli is my first call. I've been working with him for years. He is an amazing attorney and I highly recommend him." Thank you for your help Sir!" T.W.
"Mr. Underwood is a fantastic Lawyer with extraordinary ethics. He responds quickly, which is rare these days, and he is very knowledgeable in his craft. It was a pleasure working with him and we will definitely use his services in the future if needed. Thank you for your help Sir!" M.O.
"Eli took our case and controlled every hurdle put before us. I one time commented to him that he must love his job because it seemed that he was always available. When talking about my case to anyone I always bring up where, I believe, the other parties Lawyer tried to take advantage of my wife and me. Eli stopped him in his tracks. On top of it being easy to work with Eli, it was a pleasure to have had him represent us. We were in good hands." E.T
"We were in need of an attorney with considerable knowledge of real estate law and the legal issues related to property ownership. Eli Underwood went above and beyond our expectations. In keeping us abreast of our suit, his communication skills were outstanding. This talent was especially demonstrated when dealing with the apposing counsel. We feel this gave us a tremendous advantage over the opposing party that resulted in us reaching a successful outcome. I would highly recommend Eli Underwood as we found him to be an exceptional attorney." P.B.
"In our need for legal services we found Eli to be well informed and on top of our case and our needs. Our's was not an ordinary case as it was a case with many facets. It was a very convoluted case. There were multiple owners involved in a property dispute where one of the owners sued the rest of the owners with a Partition Suit. Needless to say Eli was instrumental in helping us resolve our differences and gained us a profitable sale all with good end results for all. If you hire Eli Underwood you will not be disappointed!" M.A.