Entries by Michael Repka

Fence Disputes and Good Neighbor Fences

We have all heard the expression, “Good fences make good neighbors.” Nevertheless, there are countless bitter disputes between neighbors over the location, construction, and maintenance of fences. Fortunately, the original California Civil Code §841, which was enacted in 1872 and vaguely stated that landowners were “mutually bound to maintain” fences, has been updated and clarified […]

2015: The Year in Review

2015 was a tale of two years. The year started off tremendously well with a surge of prices and activity very early in the spring. Not surprisingly, given its recent performance, the Palo Alto market was particularly strong. From March 2014 to March 2015, the price per square foot for Palo Alto shot up by […]

Real Property Tax Breaks Under the Mills Act

Many homeowners and homebuyers are attracted to historic homes due to their charm, majesty, and/ or history. Some areas, such as Professorville in Palo Alto, are known for their high concentrations of historic homes. Although the buyers and owners of these homes generally realize that they face significant restrictions when it comes to remodeling or […]

Lawyers’ Heightened Standards of Care and Ethics in Real Estate

Risk management has always been a key responsibility of real estate managers and the attorneys who advise them. For that reason, many real estate offices have implemented policies that prohibit real estate agents with other professional accreditations from advertising their credentials. For example, some real estate brokerages say that licensed attorneys may not include “J.D.” […]

Resolving Real Estate Disputes

Most real estate transactions close without a hitch. Agents on both sides explain the rights and responsibilities to their clients, and everyone does as required and expected. By and large, agents are competent and thorough, and buyers and sellers are reasonable. But, not always. When a dispute arises, most parties fall into one of two […]

Structuring Listing Agreements

Ask any real estate attorney about disputes between sellers and listing agents and you are likely to hear a lament about the lack of specificity in residential real property listing agreements. The forms widely used in Silicon Valley are generally written in a way that provides a lot of protection to real estate agents and […]

The Dangers of Off-Market Sales

Some real estate agents love to sell homes without putting them on the market. This makes a lot of sense from the agents’ point of view for at least two reasons. First, they avoid the time and expense of marketing the house. Second, selling homes off-market dramatically increases the chances that the agents will get […]

Tree Disputes with Neighbors

The care of trees creates a lot of work for arborists, which is not surprising. However, many attorneys have also put food on their tables thanks to trees and their various related issues. Few things spark tensions between neighbors as quickly as a dispute related to a beloved tree. Unfortunately, there is a good bit […]

Putting Sellers’ Interests First

There are a number of very good and ethical real estate agents in Silicon Valley. Unfortunately, as someone well-versed in the field of real estate law, I am all too aware of the games that some other agents and brokerages play for self-serving reasons. What is surprising to me is the seemingly illogical arguments put […]