Commercial Real Estate Blog by Madison

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Investment Property

Boundary Trees, Where to Draw the Line….

By Terence Guerriere, Esq., Executive Vice President, Madison Commercial Real Estate Services

In a world where party walls, air rights and subway easements can sometimes make life in real estate somewhat complicated, I took a moment to breath in some fresh spring air and contemplate the beauty of the world around me. I started to focus on a magnificent oak tree, its large spreading branches and its wide trunk, and let my mind wander… to the law of boundary trees, of course!

It can be an innocent act; even a noble one. A tree is planted. Or, a wayward seed floats to the surface from a branch above, lands and takes root. Regardless, with either of these simple acts, a contentious lawsuit can also take root. It likely will take years, sometimes generations, to come to fruition (pun intended). However, one person’s bucolic shade and privacy can become another’s annoyance and nuisance!

So who has ownership of and responsibility for boundary trees, trees that grow on or near the boundary line between adjacent properties? Who has the legal right and responsibility for the removal or care of such trees? Continue reading

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Real Estate Fraud – “Stealing” a Home

By: Debra Smith, Associate General Counsel, Madison Title Agency

An increasingly common type of real estate fraud occurs when someone impersonates the true owner of real property and does one of two things- sells the home or obtains a mortgage on it.

Typically, the wrongdoer first identifies a low risk transaction. The wrongdoer may look for a home nearing foreclosure for unpaid taxes. This is very easy information to obtain because so much data is accessible on the Internet now. The wrongdoer will then visit the property and confirm it is vacant. The ideal target has no mortgages (or only a very small mortgage) encumbering it.

The wrongdoer will obtain fake identification in the true owner’s name. He may then sell the property to a bona fide purchaser. He collects the net sale proceeds and moves on to the next victim. In criminal proceedings against Maria Leyna Albertina in Brooklyn a decade ago, it was alleged that she had identified and purportedly “sold” 32 such properties.

There are many variations on this scheme. Continue reading

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The Pervasiveness of Mortgage Fraud – Forged Documents

By Debra Smith, Associate General Counsel, Madison Title Agency

Mortgage fraud is pervasive. This is the first of a series of blogs describing different types of mortgage fraud and the flags that can help anyone involved in the real estate and financial sector identify them.

One fraud seen with increasing frequency is forged mortgage satisfactions. A major example of this type of fraud occurred in 2005 in Greenwich, Connecticut. A respected real estate developer owned a number of commercial properties. It turns out that to generate more cash flow, he was routinely forging mortgage satisfactions of mortgages encumbering properties he owned. Continue reading

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Parking Arrangements in Construction Exchanges and for Other Purposes

By: Lee David Medinets, Esq., Chief Counsel, MCRES, Madison Exchange a/k/a Madison 1031, and affiliates

In the last few posts, we looked at how parking arrangements are handled in reverse exchanges. Construction exchanges are in some ways very similar to reverse exchanges. Both involve a parking arrangement. In a construction exchange, however, the purpose of the parking arrangement is different.

IRC § 1031 allows for the cost of construction on replacement property to be counted as part of the purchase price of that property, but only to the extent that the improvements have been made to the property before the taxpayer acquires it. Once the taxpayer owns the replacement property it is too late. Moreover, payment for bricks and mortar sitting at the construction site does not count for exchange purposes until those bricks and mortar have been attached to the ground. The cost of services performed for construction counts, but not the cost of services that have not yet been performed. In a construction exchange, the parking arrangement allows these improvements to be made while the property is in the hands of a friendly party. Continue reading

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Parking Arrangements in Reverse Exchanges – Part 3

By Lee David Medinets, Esq., Chief Counsel, MCRES, Madison Exchange a/k/a Madison 1031, and affiliates

In my last post, we looked at how a safe harbor reverse exchange works under Rev. Proc. 2000-37. Either the relinquished property or the replacement property is “parked” with an “exchange accommodation titleholder” or “EAT”. We also discussed the restrictions on a safe harbor reverse exchange that must be included in a “qualified exchange accommodation agreement” (a “QEAA”) in order to have the benefit of the safe harbor. In this post we will examine the difference between parking a replacement property versus parking a relinquished property.

There are usually some significant advantages to parking the replacement property instead of the relinquished property. Here are five advantages. Continue reading

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Parking Arrangements in Reverse Exchanges – Part 2

Lee David Medinets, Esq., Chief Counsel, MCRES, Madison Exchange a/k/a Madison 1031, and affiliates

In the last post, we began to examine the problem of what to do when a taxpayer needs to buy an IRC Section 1031 like-kind exchange replacement property before the relinquished property in that exchange can be sold. This is called a “reverse exchange” because it proceeds in the opposite direction from the common forward exchange where the relinquished property is sold first. The reverse exchange process creates a special problem in that the taxpayer cannot simultaneously own both the relinquished property and the replacement property. In a reverse exchange, either the relinquished property or the replacement property must be “parked” with some relatively friendly third-party until the relinquished property is sold.

We also examined why traditional non-safe harbor reverse exchanges are expensive, risky and rare. On the other hand, traditional non-safe harbor exchanges have the substantial advantage that there is no theoretical limit to how long a potential replacement property could be parked. In order to inject some certainty into the reverse exchange process and in order to encourage reasonable time limits on that process, the IRS has offered an alternative by creating a safe harbor in Revenue Procedure 2000-37. Continue reading

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Parking Arrangements in Reverse Exchanges – Part 1

By Lee David Medinets, Esq., Chief Counsel, MCRES and Senior Counsel, Madison Exchange, LLC a/k/a Madison 1031 and their affiliates

IRC §1031 like-kind exchanges are popular, reliable, IRS-approved transactions that allow taxpayers to defer paying taxes on profits when property (usually real estate) that is held for productive use in trade or business or for investment is exchanged for like-kind property (e.g., real estate exchanged for real estate) that will also be held for productive use in trade or business or for investment.

In a typical IRC §1031 exchange, the taxpayer sells relinquished property through a qualified intermediary (a “QI”) and later acquires replacement property through the same QI. If the process is handled in accordance with Treasury Regulations, it is considered as if the taxpayer exchanged the relinquished property for the replacement property. This process is commonly referred to as a “forward” exchange because it proceeds in the normal direction – sell first, buy second. However, sometimes a taxpayer needs to buy the replacement property before the relinquished property can be sold. This is called a “reverse exchange” because it proceeds in the opposite direction from a forward exchange.

A reverse exchange poses a special problem. The taxpayer cannot simultaneously own both the relinquished property and the replacement property. That would make it impossible to exchange one property for the other. Therefore, in a reverse exchange, either the relinquished property or the replacement property must be “parked” with some relatively friendly third-party until the relinquished property is sold. Continue reading

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Railroad Easements… Marvin M. Brandt Revocable Trust v. United States – Part 2

By Terence Guerriere, Esq., Executive Vice President, Madison Commercial Real Estate Services

In my last post, I wrote about how three seemingly unrelated things led to me to think about railroad easements. First, I’d recently read Robert L. O’Connell’s biography of William Tecumseh Sherman. I also visited the High Line elevated park in Manhattan and I’m following a local property owners’ group battle to stop the taking of a public street to facilitate, in part, the establishment of a land conservancy. I explored how granting rail companies land in the 1860s, converting an old railway into a park and a neighborhood fight to stop the taking of property in connection with a planned conservancy led to a collision that resulted in a Supreme Court case.

But I left a cliffhanger…. and did not divulge the Supreme Court’s decision on the issue. Here’s the outcome. Continue reading

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Railroad Easements… A Controversy 130 Years in the Making

By Terence Guerriere, Esq., Executive Vice President, Madison Commercial Real Estate Services

Three seemingly unrelated things led to me to think about railroad easements and this post. First, I recently read Robert L. O’Connell’s biography of William Tecumseh Sherman. I also visited the High Line elevated park in Manhattan and I’m following a local property owners’ group battle to stop the taking of a public street to facilitate, in part, the establishment of a land conservancy. How are these related to a discussion of railroad easements?

From O’Connell’s book, I learned of Sherman’s significant role in the planning and construction of the first transcontinental railroad. Not only was General Sherman a Civil War hero, he also worked after the war to help his former soldiers gain employment building the railroads. This pro-railroad stance included supporting the federal government’s generous land grants to the railroad companies.

The High Line is a beautiful walking trail situated on a former abandoned elevated railroad line on Manhattan’s West Side. After years of debate, the establishment of this linear park has spurred significant development beneficial to those visiting the High Line and the city’s real estate developers.

The purchase of a former country club property by a private day school has led to seeking the discontinuance of a public street which dissects part of the property. The street also serves as an important access point to the neighborhood of private homes which surround the property. The school’s plan includes a land conservancy for part of the property but only if the school is granted permission to construct its multiple building campus.

How did granting rail companies land in the 1860s, converting an old railway into a park, and a neighborhood fighting to stop the taking of property in connection with a planned conservancy collide and result in a Supreme Court case? These three isolated items coalesced in my head to inspire thoughts of railway easements and why they have become so controversial. Continue reading

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Developing Across the River: NYC’s Expanding Markets

By: Mark Faham, Regional Business Director, Madison Commercial Real Estate Services

Riding the subway each day to work and to closings is always an interesting experience. I recently noticed a fascinating fact which I had overlooked all these years: the strong correlation between subway ride distance and residential development in NYC. In recent years, there has been a huge amount of development right outside Manhattan, only about 15 minutes from ‘the city’ by subway. As the shortage of housing and escalating prices for housing skyrocket in Manhattan, NYC developers are creating housing in neighboring boroughs near subway transportation. Continue reading

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