March 2016 Real Estate Law Newsletter


Ok..ok…you caught us. It’s not actually March anymore. Hopefully this is the tamest of the April Fool’s Day shenanigans through which you must suffer today.

Pranks, antics, and jokes are common reasons for fun and laughter on April Fool’s Day. Mistakes in real estate, however, are no laughing matter. Errors in contracts or deeds can put an owner’s interest in real property at risk. Mistakes in language or form when renting houses or leasing commercial space can be costly. Many common errors or omissions that occur in real estate and lending law are preventable – with proper preparation, adequate information, and professional analysis.

This month, we provide new resources for avoiding foolish mistakes – and maybe a few real estate jokes sprinkled throughout as well.

NO SLIPPING ON BANANAS: Our new interactive tool, written by Simon Offord, analyzes the differences between the PRDS purchase contract and the CAR residential purchase agreement

NO KNOCK-KNOCK NONSENSE: Pre-register for our firm’s upcoming webinar on California easement and boundary law, to learn about resolving conflicts with neighbors

NO JESTERS IN YOUR COURT: Henry Chuang writes about a recent case permitting liens to be stripped off of a property after a Chapter 7 bankruptcy

NO DRY PUNCH LINES: Read an update from Ashlee D. Adkins about the result of San Jose’s inclusionary housing initiative reaching the US Supreme Court

We hope you enjoy reading the March edition of our newsletter!



In the Bay Area, real estate transactions are usually executed by one of two forms: the CAR (California Association of REALTORS®) residential purchase agreement or the PRDS (Peninsula Regional Data Service) purchase contract. These two standardized forms were created to ensure that all the important topics involved in purchasing and selling real estate are covered – from contingencies to disclosures to deposits to closing escrow.

While the two forms are becoming more similar every year, there are still distinct and important differences between them – in content, form, and technicality. To highlight these differences, attorney Simon Offord completed a comprehensive, side-by-side comparison of the two forms. He evaluated how each form addresses a multitude of topics: from the disparity in how each form enforces the close of escrow, to minute discrepancies in how “maintenance” is defined.

Our firm published an interactive web tool to best illustrate these differences, sorted by topic.

Click the “Go To Site” button below to explore this interactive tool,

or visit:

What is the best way to know exactly where the property line lies?

Watch your neighbor cut the grass.



Easements and boundary law disputes are some of the most complex, yet common, real estate issues that Bay Area homeowners face. For example, multiple easements may exist on a single property, in order to address utility poles, sewer pipes, driveways, fences, and solar panels. Additionally, many neighbor disagreements originate with a misplaced fence or an untidy tree planted on a boundary line.

On Wednesday, April 27th at 10:00 AM, attorney Simon Offord will present a free webinar about easements in California and boundary law disputes. The webinar will cover important topics, such as overviews of the related laws, methods for recognizing an issue, and common issues that become legal disputes.

You can pre-register for the free webinar by clicking the button below!

Agent: Why did you decide to pull your house off of the market?

Seller: The description you wrote in your listing sounded so good, I wanted to keep it!




Court Makes It Easier to Strip Mortgages

Many debtors will file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy to obtain a discharge. Some will follow that discharge with a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, in order to strip a lien off of the underwater property. In a recent case before the 9th Circuit US Court of Appeals, the court addressed this issue, sometimes referred to as “Chapter 20” bankruptcies (7+13). Henry covers the case in his most recent blog article.


Supreme Court Upholds Controversial San Jose Affordable Housing Measure

San Jose passed an ordinance in 2010 requiring residential developments to designate some homes as “affordable housing” and to sell those homes at below-market prices. This Inclusionary Housing ordinance was challenged by a lawsuit brought by CBIA that reached the Supreme Court this past February. Attorney Ashlee D. Adkins covers the case – and its implications – in her blog article.

  • Peter N. Brewer and his wife Laura attended the 6th Annual INBLF Asian-Pacific Summit in Auckland, New Zealand, as part of the International Network of Boutique Law Firms (INBLF)
  • On the eve of trial, Simon Offord forged a settlement that compelled the opposing party to remove an encroaching and damaging tree on our client’s Saratoga property – thus resolving the issue and successfully avoiding the high cost of trial
  • Julia M. Wei and Ashlee D. Adkins gave a presentation to the Independent Brokers Network on March 24th about the impact that new laws in 2016 will have on real estate agents
  • Charlie Bronitsky and his lovely wife Martha enjoyed a two-week vacation to Maui
  • After a recent lender dispute trial victory, Henry Chuang was awarded 100% attorney’s fees by the court, with the court determining that the fees charged were reasonable
  • Simon Offord successfully settled a failure to disclose case on behalf of the purchaser of a 14-unit apartment complex in Sacramento – again on the eve of trial
  • Director of Marketing Clayton Dodds had an article published in the legal marketing blog
  • Simon Offord and Ashlee D. Adkins successfully compelled a seller to close escrow after a 3-week delay, so that the clients could move into their new $1M+, Redwood City home
  • Jessica Urioste, Simon Offord, and Clayton Dodds attended the Palo Alto Chamber of Commerce Networking Event on March 16th
  • Ashlee D. Adkins attended the Santa Clara County Bar Association (SCCBA) Law & Motion Seminar on March 16th
  • Simon Offord successfully negotiated a settlement on behalf of a tenant in a habitability and early termination dispute for a Saratoga property with a rental value of $9K+ per month
  • Clayton Dodds served as a judge for the 2016 FIRST® Tech Challenge (FTC) Super-Regional Robotics Championship on March 24-26 at the Oakland Convention Center
  • Simon Offord presented to the Santa Clara County Association of Realtors (SCCAOR) about the differences in the PRDS and the CAR purchase agreements on March 17th