Adam Klausner is a senior lecturer at the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business. He teaches courses in law: Real Estate Law (HADM 4870), Internet Law (HADM 4890), and Law for Entrepreneurs (HADM 4800/6800), and the graduate class Real Estate Law (HADM 6870). Adam is also a practicing corporate, business and real estate lawyer with 30 years’ experience. He provides counsel to a range of companies in fields that include real estate development, hospitality, software, technology, and manufacturing. Adam also represents non-profit organizations, including groups dedicated to the promotion of culture, music, education, international development, history, and the environment.
In real estate, a few simple words in a contract or on a deed can have a huge downstream effect. Before you decide to purchase real estate, it is therefore important to consider key issues around ownership, incorporation, and co-ownership agreements.
In this course, you will explore and apply key concepts that will help you successfully navigate the real estate landscape from both personal and professional perspectives. You will begin by examining how to identify and assess real estate ownership relationships, rights, and issues. You will then consider how incorporation and other important legal protections can safeguard your financial and ownership interests as well as those of your partners and heirs.
Having a working knowledge of the key issues involved with owning and investing in real estate will help you assess the pros and cons of real estate ownership and help prepare you for your real estate journey.
Note: The information in this course focuses on U.S. real estate law; it is intended for educational purposes and to assist you to interact effectively with your own legal counsel. The information presented may not work for your specific situation. It is not legal advice, and taking this course does not place you in an attorney-client relationship. Always consult your attorney for guidance on legal issues.
Real estate transactions and the contracts that summarize them can be complex. There are many players and stakeholders who must perform as well as any number of terms and contingencies that must be satisfied in order for an agreement to be finalized and a property to change hands.
In this course, you will examine the elements of real estate contracts in order to gain a deeper understanding of the contract life cycle, the parties involved, and the common terms and conditions associated with both residential and commercial transactions. Throughout, you will evaluate sample real estate transactions and situations in order to determine what might happen if one or more of the contractual contingencies is not fulfilled by one of the parties. You will also explore the relationship between a real estate purchaser and future owner and their attorney so that you can be better prepared to hire and interact with legal counsel when you are ready to purchase a property for personal or commercial use. By examining the key players, terms, and conditions, you will be better equipped to discuss and negotiate residential and commercial real estate transactions.
Title and deed are two common and interrelated real estate terms that are important to discern. Title transfers are commonly recorded with a deed, which is a legal document that chronicles the change in ownership from one party to another. Yet titles and the deeds that record them are not all the same. As a party in a real estate transaction, it is important to recognize how the marketability of title can affect ownership and to be able to interpret the implications of deed types as well as what protections, promises, and potential risks they include.
In this course, you will delve into the concept of marketable title, identify and evaluate common title issues, and suggest title curatives. You will also examine the different types of deeds and identify their implications and risks to determine when certain types of deeds are appropriate to use and when they should not be. You will then explore recording laws and apply common law principles to determine who would be awarded title based on jurisdiction. After successful completion of this course, you will have gained a working knowledge of deed types, common real estate title issues, and their curatives.
Real estate is expensive. Financing transactions usually involves borrowing from lenders and other investors, and obtaining financing is rarely simple. Once financing has been secured, it means that multiple parties have a financial interest in the property. And if agreements aren't adhered to, these interests can become claims against the property.
There are also legal ways parties can declare interest in a property. When properly filed, courts, mechanics, and lenders can claim a lien against a property to record an unsatisfied debt. When an owner sells the property or if they fail to meet their financial obligations, the property can be foreclosed to satisfy the debt. The ensuing process can be complicated and emotionally taxing.
In this course, you will analyze the residential and commercial mortgage lending processes. Along the way, you will examine loan terms, such as underwriting, commitment, and promissory note, and assess the role they play in the process. You will also consider the essential responsibilities of the borrower and the lender. You will then explore different types of liens and the critical concept of lien priority in real estate, along with the resulting effects on owners, lenders, and investors. Based on these concepts, you will evaluate the foreclosure process and assess how debts are settled when foreclosure occurs. Through successful completion of this course, you will gain the ability to navigate and communicate about the mortgage process, lien priority, and the foreclosure process.
Whether you are a tenant or a landlord, understanding and navigating commercial lease agreements is critically important. Language matters: Ambiguous terms, complicated conditions, and standard boilerplate can be the difference between successful lease agreements and long, costly disputes.
In this course, you will examine and identify the elements of commercial leases. You will then analyze common lease language and explore the tension points, critical terms, and features of a commercial lease. Throughout, you will evaluate lease provisions and make suggestions to clarify and improve lease language. After taking this course, you will be better prepared to assess and negotiate favorable lease terms.
In real estate development, entitlement is the legal process where an owner or developer obtains governmental approval for their project. As seasoned developers and investors know, successfully navigating the entitlements process is a critical milestone for every development project. Even if a development project plan appears to meet all criteria, it does not guarantee approval — and without approval, there is no project. Getting through the entitlements process can be complicated as approval can depend on any number of factors. Therefore, it is critical to identify potential challenges and risks then take the necessary steps to mitigate them.
In this course, you will analyze the entitlements process, consider factors such as variances and permits, and make suggestions to mitigate risks and resolve common entitlement challenges. You will also design a subdivision strategy with the goal of anticipating entitlement risks and challenges. Finally, you will attempt to tackle common disputes and legal challenges that can arise during the entitlements process. After successful completion of this course, you will have practiced critical skills that will help you navigate the entitlements process.