Maryland’s Highest Court Affirms “Date of Finality” Rule for Property Tax Assessments


In a recent decision by the Maryland Court of Appeals concerning the interpretation of the “date of finality” rule, which was thought by many practitioners to limit the consideration of comparable sales to a time frame before January 1.  The Court interpreted the statute more expansively to allow sales after the date of finality in certain circumstances, joining such states as New York, New Jersey, Illinois and Oregon.

View the article by MM&C Litigation Attorney, Michael Campbell, which reviews the recent ruling and its effect on property tax appeals in Maryland by clicking the download attachment link below.

Miller, Miller & Canby has been handling assessment appeals of various types of commercial properties in Maryland for more than 30 years.  In 2014, we obtained over $20,000,000 in property assessment reductions for our clients.  Our litigation attorneys regularly represent clients at the assessor level, before the Property Tax Assessment Appeals Board (PTAAB) and in the Maryland Tax Court.  We have successfully appealed the assessments on office buildings, hotels, casinos, retail stores, industrial sites, warehouses, apartment buildings and land at various stages of development.  

Michael Campbell
leads the litigation practice group of Miller, Miller & Canby. In addition to trial and appellate advocacy, his practice focuses on real estate litigation and property tax assessment appeals.  Please feel free to contact Mr. Campbell at 301.762.5212 or send him an email for property tax guidance.  For more information about the firm’s Maryland property tax appeals practice and representative cases, click here.
 





MM&C Eminent Domain Attorney Joseph Suntum Awarded Prestigious CRE® Designation


Miller, Miller & Canby is pleased to announce that litigation attorney Joseph P. Suntum, was recently awarded the prestigious CRE® designation from the Counselors of Real Estate®.

“I am honored and humbled to receive the CRE designation from the Counselors of Real Estate,” said Suntum. “I am confident that collaboration with other CREs across the country and the globe will assist me in providing the best possible representation to my clients.”

Click here
to read the May 18, 2016 press release by The Owners' Counsel of America.

Joe Suntum is a Principal at Miller, Miller & Canby, focusing his practice in eminent domain and condemnation law. U.S. News - Best Lawyers awarded Miller, Miller & Canby a “First-Tier” honor for its Eminent Domain and Condemnation practice. Mr. Suntum is the Maryland member attorney for the Owner’s Counsel of America, a nationwide network of the nation’s top condemnation attorneys.

For information about Miller, Miller & Canby’s eminent domain and condemnation practice click here, or contact Mr. Suntum directly at 301.762.5212 or via email.





Montgomery County Council Passes Increase on Recordation Tax


The Montgomery County Council passed legislation on May 18th, which will impose additional costs on property owners engaged in transfers or certain financial transactions.   The new law, introduced as Expedited Bill 15-16 and signed into law by the County Executive on May 25th, increases the rate of the Recordation Taxes (or “stamp taxes”) for any transaction which occurs after September 1, 2016.  

What the Increase Means for Homeowners
The current rate(s) imposed by Montgomery County are $3.45 per $500 of consideration payable, or debt secured in the case of financings, on the first $500,000.  For any amount in excess of $500,000, the rate of tax increases to $5.00 per $500.  The law raises these rates by $1.00 to $4.45 on the first $500,000. For amounts over $500,000 the increase is $1.75, to $6.75 per $500.  To soften this blow on the sale of residential owner-occupied property, which in most instances enjoyed an exemption from recordation taxes on the first $50,000 of consideration, the new law increases this exemption amount to $100,000.  As before, this exemption applies only on the sale of owner-occupied property to a buyer intending to use the property as their principal residence. But the law qualifies that the buyer must be an “individual”, which may be interpreted by the Montgomery County Transfer Office to deny the exemption on transactions where the “individual” intending to occupy the property might desire to acquire title through a revocable or special needs trust or other estate planning device.

Implications for Commercial Transactions
For commercial transactions, including refinancing, the implications on costs of transactions become more costly if the financing is one that cannot be structured to take advantage of certain exemptions that may be available. This type of exemption may include the recently limited utility of financing using an Indemnity Deed of Trust loan structure or considerations in loan structuring when contemplating a refinancing.   While both provide some measure of relief, the ability to fully avoid the imposition of recordation taxes has become more restricted and, at least in Montgomery County, the costs of those transactions will soon become more expensive.  Indeed, some members of the County Council  supported revisiting the rate to be imposed on amounts over $1,000,000 to an even higher rate.  It is recommended that consultation with an attorney, along with discussions with your loan officer, regarding these increased impositions (or prospect of potential future increases) be undertaken in order to evaluate options for loan structuring that may help to minimize such costs.  

Robert Gough is a principal of the firm and serves as the firm's Managing Shareholder.  Mr. Gough focuses his practice in the areas of commercial real estate transactions and leasing, commercial and residential closings, and related matters. With more than two decades of legal experience, he represents a variety of developers, institutions and individuals in the acquisition, ownership and disposition of real property.

2016 marks the 70th anniversary Miller, Miller & Canby has represented businesses and property owners. Please feel free to contact Robert Gough or any of the real estate attorneys with Miller, Miller and Canby for a complete range of transactional and advisory services.  For more information on the firm's real estate practice, click here.





MM&C Represents Residents in Successfully Settled Lawsuit with PG County Over Catastrophic Landslide


Miller, Miller & Canby represented three Prince Georges County homeowners and achieved a successful settlement with the County that will compensate those homeowners for their losses and allow them to move forward with their lives. The homeowners were the victims of a catastrophic landslide on Piscataway Drive in Fort Washington, MD in May 2014 that ruptured their neighborhood road and permanently destabilized their homes and property.

Miller, Miller & Canby litigation attorney, Joe Suntum, commented on the settlement, saying, “This settlement will allow these three families to move forward after suffering devastating losses far in excess of the fair market value of their homes.” For the Washington Post story about the successful settlement, please click here.

Joe Suntum
is a Principal at Miller, Miller & Canby, focusing his practice in eminent domain and condemnation law. U.S. News - Best Lawyers awarded Miller, Miller & Canby a “First-Tier” honor for its Eminent Domain and Condemnation practice. Mr. Suntum is the Maryland member attorney for the Owner’s Counsel of America, a nationwide network of the nation’s top condemnation attorneys.

For information about Miller, Miller & Canby’s eminent domain and condemnation practice click here, or contact Mr. Suntum directly at 301.762.5212 or via email.





Purple Line Update: Maryland Approves Purple Line Contract


Construction to Begin This Year; Property Acquisitions Moving Slow

The Maryland Board of Public Works approved a contract with a team of private companies to build and operate the 16-mile Purple Line and approval for the contractor to begin “pre-construction activities” has been given. The State is withholding full go-ahead for construction until it receives a full funding agreement with the Federal Transit Administration for $900 million dollars. The federal financial contribution is critical to the project and is expected to be formalized later this year.

In addition to the federal funds, Montgomery County will contribute $210 million and Prince George’s County is expected to pay $60 million toward the project. The total cost of the project over 30 years, including operation and maintenance, is expected to reach $5.6 billion.

In anticipation of the start of construction later this year, the State has been actively seeking to acquire privately-owned real property in the right of way. But the volume of properties to be acquired and the limited number of appraisers available to provide the State with independent valuations of the property have slowed the process. Many owners along the planned route of the project have yet to receive offers from the State for their property.

In order to avoid the delay in acquisition of title to the properties causing a delay in construction, the State will use its quick-take authority where possible. Quick-take authority allows the State to pay into court the amount of compensation an independent appraiser has determined is appropriate for the property and take possession, not title, to the property and proceed with construction. The property owner is permitted to withdraw the funds deposited with the court without prejudice to the owner’s claim that additional compensation is due.

The quick-take procedure is not available for all properties along the Purple Line route, however. So, the contractor may have to schedule construction around properties that have yet to be acquired until the State completes the acquisitions, either by negotiation or condemnation.

What Owners Need to Know

Updated appraisals for those properties for which offers have not yet been made are coming in to the State. Such owners may expect to receive offers to purchase their properties at any time. It is important for owners to realize that they do not need to accept the offers. Often the offers do not reflect the full amount of compensation the owner is entitled to receive. For the properties for which offers were made before the Governor's stay, but for which voluntary sales have not been reached, the State has begun to file formal condemnation petitions. In addition, owners should expect the window for negotiations based on new updated appraisals to be narrow. Additional condemnations will have to be filed in the coming months if voluntary agreements are not reached, in order for the project to stay on schedule.

The eminent domain attorneys at Miller, Miller & Canby will review any offer made by the State without charge to determine whether we believe you may be entitled to greater compensation than has been offered by the State.  If you are interested in a no obligation review of your offer, or if you have any questions about your rights or the condemnation process, please call our office at 301-762-5212 and ask to speak with one of our eminent domain attorneys, Jim Thompson or Joe Suntum.  To learn more about our eminent domain and condemnation law practice and representative cases, click here.





Bobby Bagheri Invited to Speak to the DC Bar Association on Residential Settlements & the CFPB


On January 26, 2016, Miller, Miller & Canby real estate transactional attorney, Bobby Bagheri, was invited to speak to the DC Bar Association on the topic TRID: Residential Settlements & the CFPB - So Far So Good?

Mr. Bagheri’s presentation focused on legal and business issues involved in the residential real estate settlements.  

Bobby Bagheri
as an associate in Miller, Miller & Canby’s Real Estate practice group. Mr. Bagheri’s experience includes representing businesses, owners, developers and individuals in real estate financings, acquisitions, dispositions and leases of commercial, mixed-used and residential properties and developments. He also has significant corporate transactional experience representing businesses, individuals and non-profits on entity formation, transaction structuring, private equity investments, and general corporate work.  Learn more about MM&C's real estate practice here.

Mr. Bagheri studied law at the George Washington University School of Law. Prior to joining Miller, Miller & Canby, he worked in the real estate group at Squire Sanders and in the corporate transactional group at Patton Boggs LLP. He has also worked as in-house general counsel for a DC-based investment banking firm as well as working in residential real estate development.  He is licensed to practice law in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C.

2016 marks the 70th anniversary Miller, Miller & Canby has represented businesses and property owners. Please feel free to contact Bobby Bagheri or any of the real estate attorneys with Miller, Miller and Canby for a complete range of transactional and advisory services.  For more information on the firm's real estate practice, click here.
 





Purple Line Update: Residents Along Path of Proposed Purple Line Told to Move Fences & Sheds


The Washington Post reported on January 6 that some Maryland residents along the planned route for the light-rail Purple Line are being told that they have until April 30 to tear down fences, sheds and anything else built on publicly owned land preserved for the project.  Click here to read the full story.  As the article confirms, Maryland is moving full steam ahead with the property acquisition process in order to acquire the property it needs to be able to begin construction as soon as the preferred contractor is chosen and the contract finalized later this year.

Some properties have already been acquired and other acquisitions are in process. Appraisers engaged by the State to value the property rights needed are in the field and their submitted appraisals continue to be reviewed by the MTA and Federal Transit Administration (FTA) in preparation for offers to be made to owners.

What Owners Need to Know

Updated appraisals for those properties for which offers have not yet been made are coming in to the State. Such owners may expect to receive offers to purchase their properties at any time. It is important for owners to realize that they do not need to accept the offers. Often the offers do not reflect the full amount of compensation the owner is entitled to receive. For the properties for which offers were made before the Governor's stay, but for which voluntary sales have not been reached, the State is preparing to file formal condemnation petitions. It is expected that the "first wave" of condemnation petitions will be filed this month. In addition, owners should expect the window for negotiations based on new updated appraisals to be narrow. Additional condemnations will have to be filed in the coming months if voluntary agreements are not reached, in order for the project to stay on schedule.

The eminent domain attorneys at Miller, Miller & Canby will review any offer made by the State without charge to determine whether we believe you may be entitled to greater compensation than has been offered by the State.  If you are interested in a no obligation review of your case, or if you have any questions about your rights or the condemnation process, please call our office at 301-762-5212 and ask to speak with one of our eminent domain attorneys, Jim Thompson or Joe Suntum.  To learn more about our eminent domain and condemnation law practice and representative case, click here.
 





Maryland Issues New Property Tax Assessments: Commercial Property Owners Have 45 Days to Appeal


Last week, the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation (SDAT) issued new Assessment Notices to owners of one-third of all commercial properties in Maryland.  Property owners have 45 days from the date of the Assessment Notice to challenge these new assessments.  The “first-level” appeal allows the owner the opportunity to convince the assessor that the assessment is incorrect.  If the assessor refuses to reduce the assessment, the owner may file a further appeal within 30 days to the county Property Tax Assessment Appeals Board (PTAAB).   The Board will consider the evidence and issue a written decision, usually within two weeks.  If the property owner is still dissatisfied, another appeal may be filed to the Maryland Tax Court.

Miller, Miller & Canby has been protesting the assessments of various types of commercial properties in Maryland for more than 30 years.  In 2015, we obtained over $30,000,000 in property assessment reductions for our clients.  Our litigation attorneys regularly represent clients before the local Assessment Office, PTAAB and the Maryland Tax Court.  We have successfully appealed the assessments on office buildings, retail stores, senior living centers, warehouses, casinos, apartment buildings, cemeteries and property being developed.  

Michael Campbell
is a partner in the litigation group at Miller, Miller & Canby. In addition to trial and appellate advocacy, his practice focuses on real estate litigation and property tax assessment appeals.  Please feel free to contact Mr. Campbell at 301.762.5212 or send him an email for property tax guidance.  For more information about the firm’s Maryland property tax appeals practice and representative cases, click here.





Bobby Bagheri Conducts Seminar for DC Bar Real Estate Committee: Commercial Leases in D.C.


On December 8, 2015 Miller, Miller & Canby real estate transactional attorney, Bobby Bagheri was invited to speak to the DC Bar Association Real Estate Group on Commercial Leasing in Washington, D.C.

Mr. Bagheri’s presentation focused on legal and business issues involved in the commercial leasing process, including negotiating preliminary letters of intent, addressing key lease terms from a tenant perspective, highlighting the value of hiring a commercial broker and attorney, and discussing the time, costs and risks involved in entering into a commercial lease.

Bobby Bagheri
as an associate in Miller, Miller & Canby’s Real Estate practice group. Mr. Bagheri’s experience includes representing businesses, owners, developers and individuals in real estate financings, acquisitions, dispositions and leases of commercial, mixed-used and residential properties and developments. He also has significant corporate transactional experience representing businesses, individuals and non-profits on entity formation, transaction structuring, private equity investments, and general corporate work.  Learn more about MM&C's real estate practice here.

Mr. Bagheri studied law at the George Washington University School of Law. Prior to joining Miller, Miller & Canby, he worked in the real estate group at Squire Sanders and in the corporate transactional group at Patton Boggs LLP. He has also worked as in-house general counsel for a DC-based investment banking firm as well as working in residential real estate development.  He is licensed to practice law in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C.

2016 marks the 70th anniversary Miller, Miller & Canby has represented businesses and property owners. Please feel free to contact Bobby Bagheri or any of the real estate attorneys with Miller, Miller and Canby for a complete range of transactional and advisory services.  For more information on the firm's real estate practice, click here.





MM&C Land Use Attorneys Participate in Fudan University’s 2015 Washington, DC Forum


Over the weekend preceding Thanksgiving, Miller, Miller & Canby Land Use attorneys Jody Kline and Soo Lee-Cho participated in the 2015 Fudan Washington Forum: The Driving Forces Behind Economic Growth, conducted at the University of the District of Columbia in Washington, DC.  

Fudan University, located in Shanghai, China, has been referred to as the "Stanford of China" and has a strong and active alumni following in the Washington, DC area. The Fudan Washington Forum is the second year of a program focused on the driving forces behind economic growth both in China and the US, particularly in the Washington, DC regional area.  The attendees at the Forum included Chinese nationals or locals who have a desire to invest in real estate in the United States.  A group of investors from Shanghai also traveled to the conference.  

Relying on his more than forty years of experience in zoning and land use law, Jody Kline provided an overview of property rights and land use control in the United States.  After presenting his remarks, Jody, along with two panel members, described in more detail the intricacies of real estate development in the United States.

During breaks in the day-long seminar, Jody and Soo were able to speak personally with many attendees and to provide them with practical advice about investing in real estate in the United States.   

Miller, Miller & Canby has represented businesses and property owners for 70 years. Please feel free to contact the land use attorneys with Miller, Miller and Canby for any conditional use or other zoning-related assistance.  For more information on the Land Use & Zoning practice at Miller, Miller & Canby, click here.
 





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