Practice Overview

 

Practice Philosophy

Michael Notaro is dedicated to you - the client - first and foremost. He follows the golden rule and treats each client as he himself would want to be treated if the roles were reversed.  Phone calls are promptly returned and clients receive cost conscious and results-oriented legal advice.  Michael treats each client as a person, not a case file number.  He charges fees for legal work, not photocopies, and does his best to accommodate your needs.

Michael enjoys building personal relationships with his clients and developing a deep understanding of their needs, thereby enabling him to effectively serve and advise them over time. Michael’s real estate and business background broadens and complements his approach to legal issues.

 

Michael focuses on achieving client objectives as quickly as possible. By leveraging today’s technology, he delivers sophisticated legal representation in a cost-effective manner. A serious and dedicated advocate for his clients, Michael also maintains a professional and courteous demeanor towards opposing parties and their counsel in order to achieve a successful resolution to his clients’ cases.

Practice Areas

Michael provides counsel to a broad-based real estate clientele, ranging from the single property owner to national developers, REITS and Fortune 1000 companies. He counsels clients on all aspects of real estate ownership, including acquisition, land use, entitlement, development, leasing, operation, financing and disposition. Whatever your real estate needs, you have a partner to assist with legal matters. Michael’s goal is to make your real estate investments a success

Landlord/Tenant

Tenant income is the lifeblood of investment real estate. Michael helps investors, developers and institutions successfully manage tenant issues, ranging from tenant screening to lease negotiation, lease agreement and performance of leasehold covenants. Michael advises both residential and commercial clients on lease renewal, assignments, security deposits, options, indentures, termination, rent control (if applicable) and sublease. Michael deftly drafts a variety of real estate documents including shopping center, office, land, industrial and marine terminal leases and will review your “boilerplate” lease to insure it protects your interests.  He assists with estoppels, indemnification agreements as well as subordination, nondisturbance and attornment agreements. Where necessary, Michael will help you evict a nonperforming tenant as quickly and inexpensively as possible and assess the legal merit of discrimination, retaliation and FEHA claims before you commence your action.  Please contact Michael with questions or concerns.

Real Estate Transactions

With over 20 years experience in real estate sales and the experience of over 280 separate transactions, Michael provides expert counsel to expedite your real estate acquisition or disposition. He will work with you and your CPA or broker to craft an acquisition strategy, draft a letter of intent, qualify lenders, negotiate the purchase and sale agreement, conduct appropriate due diligence, negotiate title insurance coverage and finally close the transaction.  Michael can also help you dispose of real estate portfolios, maximizing your yield while minimizing exposure.  

Michael also drafts special purpose acquisition agreements for hotels, hospitals, golf courses, amusement parks, quarries, resort communities, ranches and mobile home parks. He represents a variety of private and institutional owners, sellers and buyers in insuring the sales process flows smoothly. Please contact Michael with questions or concerns.

Financing and Loan Documentation

Michael represents borrowers, banks, institutional lenders and credit associations in virtually all areas of real estate finance: transactions, litigation, and loan documentation (both secured and unsecured), including revolving construction, permanent and mini-perm loans. He negotiates loan workouts, security modifications and handles foreclosure (judicial and nonjudicial), purchase and sale of loan portfolios, REO property sale and leasing and the evaluation of secured interest environmental liabilities.

Michael can advise you on commercial loan financing and refinancing.  He helps clients avoid common loan documentation mistakes, minimize non-recourse loan exemptions and reach satisfactory workout agreements. He can help you identify effective ways to replace existing lenders with third parties or collateral.  Even the most basic loan often includes such terms as variable rates, rate swaps, negative amortization, or due on sale clauses. Collateral may include both real estate and non-real-estate assets as well as multiple properties in multiple states. Michael can assist you in structuring loan documents to meet your financial objectives, protecting your interests in the event of default and managing for your benefit the competing interests of lenders and borrowers.  Please contact Michael with questions or concerns.

Lien Removal

Property liens and encumbrances often infringe upon property ownership rights. A lien may pose a minor inconvenience or a devastating obstruction to property usage and enjoyment.  Michael works with property owners to uncover and resolve property lien issues. He successfully negotiates easements, mechanics liens, indentures, licenses and profits.  Where a lien is not removed, he can help you understand its full impact on a real estate asset before you close escrow.  Where a new lien is proposed, he can help you understand the full scope of its benefit and burden.  Please contact Michael with questions or concerns.

Land Use Entitlement

Michael acts as a vigorous advocate for developers, landowners, land speculators and businesses applying for and obtaining from local public authorities and entities a wide variety of development and use entitlements. He advocates for general and specific plan amendments, zoning variances and amendments, subdivision map approvals and annexations, lot line adjustments, conditional use permits, planned development permits, inclusionary housing exemptions, architectural, design and site review approvals, special development permits, and related environmental approvals and certifications. Michael will help solve CEQA challenges, nuisance problems, Williamson Act issues, and local land use initiatives and referenda.  Please contact Michael with questions or concerns.

Real Estate Development

Once the financing is in place, real estate construction is often fast-paced and governed by strict project deadlines.  Everyone wants the construction to proceed quickly. Unanticipated obstacles which slow the process cost money and human capital. Michael works with your project team of suppliers, subcontractors, contractors, engineers, and architects who sometimes find themselves bogged down by legal issues that must be resolved in a timely fashion to keep the project’s cost and schedule on target.  Michael will do just that – resolve the legal issues and solve construction problems as they arise to keep your construction project on target and on budget.  Please contact Michael with questions or concerns.

Title Insurance Practice

Michael represents both insured’s and major title insurance companies in various title policy claims, including  forgery, encroachment, unrecorded liens and judgments, insurer negligence, class actions and unfair business practice claims.  He can  help you assess your title risk as well as potential adverse claimants and will analyze the appropriate scope and depth of title coverage. Where appropriate, he will recommend a survey and/or extended title search as well as suitable policy enhancements, including specialized endorsements.

Michael will help you ascertain common title defects arising from defective conveyances, including grantors who lack proper authority, grantors who are legally incompetent, insane, unauthorized, foreign, convey by mistake, or by expired power of attorney. He can assist with a sale after ineffective release of a prior mortgage, ineffective prior subordination, misinterpretation of a will, an erroneous legal description, a defective acknowledgement (notary), ambiguous recorded covenants, physical easements which do not conform with records, pre-existing violation of subdivision map act requirements, mechanic’s liens which attach without notice, incorrect survey, parties in possession following failure to follow proper procedures for judicial or nonjudicial foreclosure, or deeds acquired from one who previously sold or leased the same land to a third party under an unrecorded contract.  Please contact Michael with questions or concerns.

Real Estate Broker Issues

Real estate brokers must function in a fluid and ever-changing real estate market. As a former commercial real estate broker for 20 years, Michael regularly represents and counsels both residential and commercial real estate brokers. He helps brokers close the deal while protecting their own interests. The brokerage industry is one of the most heavily regulated professions in California. Michael deals with the often complex issues that arise from state mandated agency, disclosure, and statutory requirements. He stays on top of the law, advising brokers and their agents on new developments and aggressive risk management and risk aversion strategy through training sessions or on a deal by deal basis.  Please contact Michael with questions or concerns.

Collections

Michael works with creditors on matters of outstanding accounts and collecting on  judgments. If you are having difficulty collecting money owed on delinquent accounts, he can help you collect what is owed to you by sending out collection letters, filing collection lawsuits, and arranging settlements with your debtors.  Michael will negotiate on your behalf and take enforcement action, including examining the debtor, filing liens and judgment enforcement tools. Michael will use every legal tool at his disposal to help you recover the money owed.  Please contact Michael with questions or concerns.

Entity Formation

How will you hold title? Acquiring commercial real estate begins with choosing the right form of title. Michael provides practical information and guidance to help you take, receive or transfer title the way that best serves your interest and shields you from personal liability. As your property acquisition attorney, he will explore the various ownership entities – including  incorporation, Limited Liability Company, Limited Liability Partnership, general partnership and sole proprietorship status.  He will help you understand the costs, obligations and drawbacks as well as the benefits of each ownership entity.  Please contact Michael with questions or concerns.

Real Estate Litigation

Some real estate disputes end up in litigation. From developing a pre-litigation strategy to the successful resolution of a property dispute, Michael  provides a wide range of services to owners, tenants and claimants who initiate or defend a lawsuit. His litigation experience covers remedies including damages for breach of contract, actions for specific performance, lis pendens filings,  actions for rescission, reformation, ejectment, cancellation of instrument, constructive fraud, slander of title, nuisance, trespass, adverse possession, landslide, and partition of title.  Michael guides his clients through each stage of the litigation process by advising them on pre-litigation alternatives, developing a successful litigation plan and aggressively conducting discovery to ensure resolution of each matter by trial, mediation or settlement.  Please contact Michael with questions or concerns.

Property Insurance Coverage

Michael will review your property insurance coverage to insure it is sufficient to protect your interests. He can help you choose the right policy or negotiate with casualty and liability carriers on your behalf to resolve a claim.  Michael represents his clients in a variety of property insurance coverage claims and matters, including commercial general liability, environmental, products liability, personal injury and title defects. Michael can negotiate buyouts of existing coverage and litigate with insurance companies to obtain the compensation you deserve.  Please contact Michael with questions or concerns.

Outside Real Estate Counsel

Michael frequently serves as pseudo general counsel for entities without in-house legal departments or local real estate expertise in Northern California. He routinely assists corporate counsel by providing additional depth on complex property matters. The right local counsel in today’s increasingly complex commercial world can mean the difference between business success and failure – especially when it comes to property  matters. As a former business owner, Michael serves as an outsourced general real estate counsel, working side by side with CFOs, accountants, in-house attorneys and other personnel at privately-held companies of varied sizes.  For companies without internal counsel, Michael is a highly valued legal asset who can compliment and advise the management structure on real estate issues. Drawing upon his knowledge of the statutes, nuances and intricacies of property law and local court procedure, Michael has a keen ability to identify opportunities, recognize potential obstacles, and utilize a rare combination of experience and skills to assist businesses in fully exploiting their real estate opportunities.   Please contact Michael with questions or concerns.