Solving Tough Real Estate Issues with a Special Commissioner

March 13, 2018

solving real estate Issues with a special commissioner

As co-owners/co-investors of real estate, parties going through divorce (personal or business) or probate, often encounter challenging legal scenarios involving disputes real property. These disputes may include Residential real property such as single family homes, condominiums, and townhouses, as well as commercial real property, including office, industrial, special-use, and multifamily, as well as vacant lots and land. In these situations, any party with interest in a contested, community, or jointly owned real estate asset may petition the court for the appointment of a Real Estate Commissioner. Alternatively, the Parties may stipulate or agree to the appointment of a Real Estate Special Commissioner for assistance with the sale, disposition, or division of community or jointly-owned real property. Judicial appointments, such as Special Real Estate Commissioner appointments, are common in family and probate proceedings involving the division or partition of real estate assets.

The primary benefit of appointing a Real Estate Special Commissioner for resolution of complex real estate issues is the Special Real Estate Commissioner’s ability to resolve issues efficiently and cost-effectively while achieving highest and best value for the sale of real property.

The following examples show how Special Commissioners can lead difficult, and emotionally-charged proceedings to successful resolutions of property disputes where parties are ordered to sell, dispose of, divide, or manage community, or jointly-owned properties.

Overcome Post-Decree Petition Noncompliance

Our first example involves a hypothetical divorce case stalled in several years of appeals and post-decree petitions of noncompliance where, through the appointment of a Real Estate Special Commissioner, the Special Commissioner resolved complex real estate issues through valuing, managing, and selling real estate assets.

When the dissolution of marriage began in family court, the judge presiding over the case entered a consent decree granting possession of the shared residence to the Petitioner. Two years later, the court modified the decree, ordering the Petitioner to remove the Respondent’s name within six months from the two mortgages that had been taken out on the marital residence. When a year had passed, and after the Petitioner made no effort to remove the Respondent’s name, the latter filed a post-decree petition, requesting the appointment of a Special Commissioner to sell the marital residence.

The court granted the Respondent’s request. However, The Petitioner continued to refuse compliance with the order for removal of the Respondent from the mortgages and ignored the petition to force a sale of the marital residence. Less than two months later, the Respondent filed an emergency motion reiterating the intentions of the earlier petition, this time requesting an executed order for appointment of a Special Commissioner to handle the sale of the shared residence. The court granted the Respondent’s petition,  to proceed with the sale of the marital residence. The Real Estate Special Commissioner did in fact, sell the property, above appraised value, and paid off the mortgages, thereby assisting the parties in resolving debt issues.

This case demonstrates how Parties in Family Court can facilitate appointments for a Special Real Estate Commissioner. It is also a highly relevant example illustrating the benefits of a Special Commissioner and demonstrates how this judicial appointment can play an impartial, unbiased, and neutral role where Parties in family court, probate proceedings, or partition matters, are ordered to sell, dispose of, divide, or manage jointly-owned properties.

The Importance of Accurate Valuation

Our second example shows how the Special Commissioner can apply the Order for Appointment of Real estate Special Commissioner, thereby paving the way for a swift, yet fair resolution. A broker price opinion (BPO) is a valuation tool completed by a Real Estate Special Commissioner on a residential property.  After a detailed market analysis, Special Commissioners craft BPOs with the objective of determining the fair market value for the property, as well as identifying the buyer base (owner-occupant, investor, or other logical buyer).  BPOs are one of many tools utilized by real estate brokers serving as real Estate Special Commissioner to identify the type of buyer who will be a high-probability buyer for the subject property.

In a highly contentious “real-world” divorce case, the Respondent was in possession of the marital home, which had been ordered to be sold. The first task of the Special Commissioner was valuation, with the completion of a Broker Price Opinion (BPO). A physical, on-site interior inspection is key for an accurate valuation. In this case, the Respondent barred entry to the Special Commissioner, thereby blocking the Special Commissioner from performing the first of many duties as ordered by the court. As a result, and pursuant to the Order for Appointment, the Respondent was removed from the home, thereby allowing the Special Commissioner to take swift control of the property, and manage a successful sale.

Here, in the case of a party in contempt, we can see that without the appointment of a Special Commissioner, and the “teeth” provided by the Order for Appointment, proceedings may have been quite lengthy and costly for both parties. The benefits of the appointment of a Real Estate Special Commissioner may include reduced legal fees, an accelerated timeline, and the security, preservation, and enhancement of assets during the marketing and sale, lease, and disposition of Residential or Commercial Real Property jointly held by disputing Parties.

Solutions You Can Trust

Are you going through a difficult legal proceeding involving jointly owned property in family, probate, or civil court in Arizona?  If so, perhaps you could benefit from the guidance of an experienced court appointed Real Estate Special Commissioner? R.O.I. Properties and Beth Jo Zeitzer, court-appointed Special Commissioner, serve as a neutral broker or court-appointed Special Real Estate Commissioner in divorce, probate, and partition cases. We can help you achieve an expedited resolution, at the highest/best pricing, for jointly-owned properties that are the subject of pending litigation, and involve the division of marital, probate or other jointly-owned real estate assets.

Contact one of our experts today, to discuss ways that we can assist in the resolution of disputes involving jointly owned real estate assets.   

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