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Costa Mesa, CA Real Estate Attorney

Your Home For Legal Advice You Can Trust

Real estate law in Southern California can be complicated. Whether you're buying or selling a residential or commercial property, you need an experienced California real estate lawyer on your side who understands how the legal system works here. Otherwise, you could make a costly error that could affect you or your business for decades.

If you need legal help with real estate negotiations, transactions, disputes or any other litigation matter in Southern California, the Law Offices of Daniel C. Carlton in Orange County can guide you every step of the way through this complex process.

A lifelong resident of Southern California, attorney Carlton has more than 40 years of legal experience. He also brings a unique perspective to real estate law. In addition to being a lawyer, he's also a licensed real estate broker. As a result, he knows exactly what to anticipate and how to react to any legal issue that might arise. That's why he's respected throughout Southern California as the go-to lawyer for complex real estate issues.

Cases we handle

Real estate cases can cover a wide range. And in many cases, you need to act fast to protect your rights and your assets. Some of the most common legal cases we handle involving real estate in Southern California include:

There are many other types of cases involving real estate disputes and other legal matters. That's why it's important to talk to an attorney as soon as possible about your specific legal issue. If you need help from a real estate attorney, we want to meet with you.

California real estate lawyer who was a real estate agent

Mr. Carlton sold real estate while attending law school. As a result, attorney Carlton has a deep, comprehensive understanding of real estate transactions in Southern California. He is a member of the California Association of Realtors (Legal Referral Panel) and the Orange County Association of Realtors. Attorney Carlton is also a member of the Orange County Bar Association and Orange County Trial Lawyers Association.

Attorney Carlton's experience includes buyer/seller litigation, broker malpractice cases, Department of Real Estate license revocation hearings, Board of Realtors ethics hearings, community homeowner association disputes and lease negotiations. He has also served as an expert witness for real estate brokers' responsibility and is a frequent college lecturer on real estate broker fiduciary obligations.

Attorney Carlton can help with mediation, arbitration, real estate lawsuits, contingencies, non-disclosure of defects, liquidate damage provisions when buyers breach contracts, tail provisions for post-closing issues, escrow problems and all aspects of residential and commercial real estate law in Orange County and throughout Southern California.

Solutions that work

The key to resolving complex real estate disputes often involves a lot of hard work. It also requires attention to detail and an in-depth knowledge of all the applicable state and local laws and zoning ordinances.

That's why our law firm takes the time to carefully analyze each real estate matter we handle. We closely examine every document. We conduct extensive research. We explore every possible solution. We leave no stone unturned.

We then present our findings to you. Working with you, we then decide which approach makes the most sense to resolve your real estate matter. We believe in a collaborative approach when it comes to real estate. That's because we realize this might be one of the biggest decisions of your life.

Why Choose Us

There's no substitute for experience. That's definitely the case when it comes to choosing a real estate lawyer in Costa Mesa. You want someone who not only knows the area but knows the law inside and out.

Attorney Carlton has handled real estate matters in Southern California for more than four decades. A lifelong resident of Southern California and a licensed Realtor, he has a unique understanding of how the legal system works when it comes to real estate transactions in Orange County.

Property values in Southern California are among the highest in the country. Your property could be your single largest asset. Make sure you take steps to protect your investment. Make sure you contact the Law Offices of Daniel C. Carlton. Contact us online or call our Costa Mesa office at (949) 757-0707. Every conversation is confidential. We handle real estate cases in the entire Orange County area, including Costa Mesa, Irvine and other nearby communities.

Real Estate Disputes

Real estate disputes often involve two parties that cannot agree on a specific real estate matter. In almost every case, you can count on the other party having a real estate lawyer on their side. That's one of the reasons why you need to make sure you have an experienced, California real estate attorney who will look out for your best interests working for you.

Disputes often arise involving real estate transactions concerning real estate boundary disputes, in which both parties cannot agree on the exact location of the property line. Other disputes we often deal with at our law firm involve:

  • Property owners failing to disclose legally-required issues before finalizing sale.
  • Appraisal disputes (both sides fail to agree on appraised value of property)
  • Real estate fraud (fraudulent mortgage documents, loan agreements, etc.)
  • Discrimination by real estate brokers, mortgage companies, etc.
  • Commercial Lease Disputes
  • Commercial Lease Counseling & Drafting
  • Leasing Disputes
  • Financing Disputes
  • Eviction & Landlord/Tenant Matters
  • Lease Assignment/Subletting
  • Mortgage Disputes

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Brokerage Disputes

A real estate broker (sometimes referred to as a real estate agent) facilitates the sale or rental of a property and typically earns a commission for those real estate transaction duties. Often, such transactions are fairly straightforward.

Sometimes, brokerage disputes arise. Brokerage disputes cover a wide range. Some of the most common ones involve disputes during or after the property transaction process. Any number of real estate disputes may arise, including:

  • Breach of broker contract - This type of dispute can occur for many different reasons, including someone (often a real estate broker or agent) failing to honor a real estate contract for the purchase, sale or rental of a property. Broker commission disputes are also common. In certain situations, the broker may pursue a real estate sale or lease commission even when the transaction doesn't close, believing it has fulfilled its contractual obligations.
  • Buyer complaints - Buyers often have serious legal complaints involving the seller, real estate agents or others who fail to honor legal contracts involving real estate transactions.
  • Property defects - Brokers who facilitate the sale or rental of a property built with defective materials or faulty construction methods need to be held accountable for their actions.
  • Escrow agent or title agent conflict of interest - Legal disputes involving the escrow agent (person who holds a property in trust for third parties during a real estate transaction) or title agent (person responsible for preparing a legal title of ownership for a property) can be complicated and often require the assistance of an attorney.
  • Broker negligence - Real estate brokers have a legal obligation to act in the best interest of the buyer or seller and accurately disclose any important legal information. This includes disputes involving broker commissions. Otherwise, they could be held legally responsible if the buyers or sellers believe the broker was negligent and breached fiduciary duties.

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Quiet Title

As the name implies, a "quiet title" is a lawsuit that quiets dispute over a contested property title. That way, no one besides the rightful owner of the title to real property can make a claim against that property.

For instance, if another party is occupying the land other than the rightful owner of the property's title, a quiet title can help the plaintiff recover possession of that property from the unlawful or trespassing defendant.

As a result, a quiet title is a form of "preventive adjudication," a form of legal action intended to prevent further harm. As such, a quiet title is sometimes referred to as an "ejectment action," "try title" or "trespass to try title."

Though it may sound simple, a quiet title lawsuit is complicated and requires great familiarity with real estate law in order for the lawsuit to be beneficial to a property owner. The court will conduct an evidentiary hearing to establish whether a quiet title should be granted.

Through an in-depth discovery process, the plaintiff must prove specific facts that show an instrument clouds their title in some way or is invalid. That process can be a tough task without an experienced real estate attorney on your side. That's why you need attorney Dan Carlton.

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A nuisance is any public or private situation, activity or condition that endangers or offends a property's residents, neighbors, passersby or community. A private nuisance exists within a single dwelling, primarily affecting the residents therein, whereas a public nuisance impacts people who are in the greater area surrounding a property.

Fire codes, building codes and zoning laws serve to help prevent nuisances from disturbing members of a community. As a property owner, if you are accused of owning a dangerous property or one with tenants breaking the law in some way, you could be held liable. Many factors can constitute a nuisance, including:

  • Hazardous Commercial Enterprises - These may disrupt local traffic, cause toxic fumes exposure, create bad smells or include loud machinery or other offensive manufacturing noises.
  • Illegal Activity - Drug dealing and/or manufacturing, storing and/or selling stolen goods, prostitution in a commercial warehouse or other property could endanger public safety.
  • Urban Blight - Dilapidated or condemned buildings, properties littered with trash, broken down, rusty cars or unfinished, deteriorating construction projects can all qualify as a nuisance.
  • Risks to Human Health - Septic waste spills, pest infestations that may carry disease, animal droppings, toxic chemicals and stagnant water can produce offensive odors and health risks.

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Boundary Issues and Drainage Disputes

Disputes involving real estate boundaries and drainage can cover a wide range. Some of the most common disputes involve:

  • Disagreement over exact location of property boundaries
  • Inaccurate deed descriptions
  • Adverse possession (person unlawfully occupying property claims ownership)
  • How water drains from property
  • Water rights (especially for agricultural properties)
  • Water damage caused by water from neighbor's property
  • Reasonableness approach (proof showing your neighbor did something unreasonable to alter their property, which changed the flow of water onto your property)
  • Careless water damage (damage to your property caused by neighbor's careless actions, including failing to repair a broken water pipe)

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Partnership and Joint Venture Disputes

Joint ventures and partnerships in real estate often involve several different parties investing in the same real estate project. In terms of a joint venture project, two or more companies often create a new company, in which money, personnel and other resources are shared for mutual benefit.

Unfortunately, problems often arise involving partnerships or joint ventures. Common disputes include:

  • Failing to honor a partnership agreement
  • Disagreement over language in a partnership agreement
  • Failing to distribute profits as outlined in a partnership agreement
  • Embezzling funds
  • Failing to disclose financial difficulties to fellow partners
  • Disputes over taxes involving a partnership agreement

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Homeowner Association Disputes

Homeowners' associations (HOA) represent homeowners living in a real estate development which maintain common areas for the use of all residents. They also enforce restrictions involving maintenance, building and landscaping materials and décor, noise, nuisance and blight.

HOAs often govern single-family subdivisions, town home communities and condominium developments. In every homeowners' association, a board of directors - elected by homeowners -  governs HOA rules and bylaws. When a homeowners' association dispute arises, very often it means that one member has filed a complaint about another member.

Resolving HOA disputes can be a complex legal process. That's why it's critical that you have an experienced real estate attorney on your side who can help you every step of the way. That's why you need the Law Offices of Daniel C. Carlton. Founded by attorney Carlton, our firm has more than four decades of experience in Southern California resolving real estate disputes.

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Purchase and Sales Litigation

Whenever a real estate transaction involves the purchase and sale of a home or business property, there can be disputes between parties that hold up the process. When that occurs, you need to take immediate legal action to protect your rights and your investment.

Our law firm can help you in many different ways with your purchase or sale legal case. In general, we handle the following types of cases:

  • Broker Negligence & Breach of Fiduciary Duties
  • Specific Performance
  • Mortgage and Deed of Trust Litigation
  • Breach of Contract
  • More specifically, we can assist you with the following issues:
  • Bullet list
  • Seller backed out of a sale after buyer waived all contingencies
  • Seller failed to disclose defects in the real property or tenant problems
  • Buyer refuses to go through with a property purchase
  • Inaccurate information on home inspection or commercial property documents
  • Missing or incorrect loan forms
  • Title search problems
  • Other escrow delays

Other specific legal issues can arise at a moment's notice. If you don't act fast, your purchase or sale could be jeopardized. That's why it's critical that you take strong legal action as soon as possible to protect your assets and your rights.

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Broker Negligence and Breach of Fiduciary Duties

California law stipulates that every real estate broker or agent must adhere to what is called "fiduciary duty." This means that the agent or broker owes the highest duty of good faith, fairness, reasonable care, loyalty and honesty to his or her client. California Civil Jury Instructions state that "A fiduciary duty imposes on a real estate agent/real estate broker, a duty to act with the utmost good faith in the best interests of his/her/its client."

Unfortunately, some real estate brokers do not act in the best interests of their clients. Instead, some brokers break the rules or act in a reckless or negligent manner, which could jeopardize the purchase or sale of a residential or commercial property.

There are many different ways a real estate broker or agent can act in a negligent manner or breach their fiduciary duties. These include:

  • Failing to disclose a property defect
  • Offering legal advice (real estate agents cannot do so in California)
  • Failing to disclose other material facts (including problems with structure or foundation)
  • Providing misleading information to buyers or sellers
  • Failing to recommendation or arrange mandatory inspections
  • Breach of contract (failing to adhere to terms of contract between agent and buyer or seller)
  • Violating buyer's or seller's civil rights (including agent asking buyer or seller questions about their ethnicity, race or sexual orientation)

A real estate agent or broker who causes damages or loss to a buyer or seller must be held accountable for his or her actions. Depending on the circumstances of your case, you could make a claim for breach of fiduciary duty, negligence or fraud.

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Specific Performance

Real estate transactions are rarely straightforward, particularly in Southern California. Sellers may try to back out because another potential buyer offered more money for the property. Buyers may break contracts and not pay what they owe on a property.

In such cases, a court-ordered legal remedy available to both parties is called "specific performance." This solution forces one of the parties involved in the purchase and sales negotiation problem to follow through on what he or she agreed to do in the property sale agreement.

A long list of property sale delays and obstacles can arise: seller's remorse; a defaulting buyer who backed out of a real estate deal due to fear of a slow economy; a survey of a parcel of land shows it has less acreage than listed on the purchase contract; a commercial building has undisclosed construction defects, such as black mold, so it can't be rented; a dishonest buyer lied about his finances on loan application or her down payment check bounced.

There are many property sale problems that can oblige the court to make specific performance demands, whether it's a buyer's remedy or seller's remedy. In some cases, a monetary payment must be made to satisfy specific performance demands - such as following through with a contractually agreed purchase. In other breach of contract issues, the courts force the property title to be conveyed to the buyer by a reluctant seller.

In other cases, hazardous building materials must be replaced before the property transfer goes through. Or the court may allow "lis pendens," or "suit pending," wherein litigation is recorded against the deed of the seller's property in order to force a resolution to the real estate problem.

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Mortgage and Deed of Trust Litigation

Deciding how to finance a real estate transaction in Southern California can be a difficult decision. There are so many different ways to purchase a property. Knowing which one is the right one for you can be a challenge.

Most people choose to obtain a mortgage to buy a residential or commercial property. Others obtain a "Deed of Trust." Both types of agreements have their advantages. You can also encounter many complicated legal problems which could jeopardize your purchase or sale.

There are many reasons why you may need to take legal action involving your mortgage or deed of trust. Some of the most common reasons for mortgage disputes include:

  • A dispute between lender and borrower over terms of mortgage
  • The lender misrepresents terms of mortgage to borrower
  • The lender changes the terms of mortgage without permission
  • The lender fails to follow rules outlined in mortgage contract

Some of the most common reasons for deed of trust disputes include:

  • The trustee and lender coordinate actions against the borrower
  • The trustee forecloses on the borrower without just cause
  • The trustee forecloses on the borrower without following rules outlined in deed
  • The lender or trustee fails to abide by the rules outlined in the deed

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Breach of Contract

Legally binding contracts matter when it comes to real estate transactions in Southern California. With thousands or sometimes millions of dollars at stake, it's critical that all parties involved strictly adhere to all contracts associated with such legal matters.

That's why breach of contract issues can have such a serious impact. If someone violates the terms of a real estate contract, the consequences can be catastrophic. Your financial future could be on the line. That's why it's critical that you have someone on your side looking out for your best interests.

Breach of contract issues can cover a wide range when it comes to real estate matters. Some of the most common issues we deal with at our law firm involve the purchase or sale of a property. These issues include:

  • The seller fails to provide clear title to the property
  • The buyer fails to secure financing to purchase the property
  • The buyer or seller fails to abide by terms of the purchase and sale agreement, including
  • Failure to finalize sale on closing date
  • Failure to allow buyer to take possession of property on closing date
  • Failure by seller to pay expenses (utility bills, etc.) through closing date

Many options exist for resolving breach of contract disputes. That's why it's critical that you contact our law firm as soon as possible to learn more about all the options available to you.

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Non-Disclosure Agreements

This standard real estate document does exactly what its name implies. Everyone who signs this document (seller, potential buyers, real estate agents, etc.) agrees to not disclose the details of the purchase or sale, including even in the preliminary stages.

Such agreements are often created in order to prevent other real estate agents or brokers from poaching potential buyers for the property and claiming the commission themselves, something that often occurs in Southern California's highly competitive real estate market. There are many other reasons why people choose to have a non-disclosure agreement for a property.

Prospective buyers who sign a non-disclosure agreement when considering purchasing a property often have an advantage over potential buyers who refuse to sign such documents. Specifically, buyers who sign such agreements often have access to information that might be withheld from potential buyers who refuse to sign such documents. The more information you have before purchasing a property, the better.

One of the most annoying aspects of selling a property often involves dealing with countless people or real estate agents making low-ball offers that don't even come close to your asking price for your business or residential property.

By requiring potential buyers to sign a non-disclosure agreement, many casual buyers will likely not put in an offer since they might not be aware of the sale. That's because some real estate agents or brokers will refuse to sign such documents because they're simply looking to make a quick, lowball offer to buy a property.

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Commercial Transactions and Leases

Commercial real estate transactions in Southern California can be very complex. Depending on whether your company is buying, selling or leasing a commercial property, thousands or millions of dollars could be at stake.

Commercial property transactions are complicated and numerous legal problems can stall the purchase, sale or leasing of a commercial property. Common legal issues involve:

  • Commercial rentals
  • Negotiating lease terms
  • Establishing monthly rent
  • Common area maintenance charges
  • Triple net lease vs. gross lease
  • Survival of conditions in contract
  • Recapturing property
  • Acquisitions and dispositions
  • Development and construction
  • Investment properties
  • Buyers' diligence research
  • Building usage and history
  • Nature of tenant business
  • Operational issues

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Commercial Tenancy

Commercial tenants can range from a small, owner-operated business to a large, multinational corporation. In either case, it's important for all the necessary contracts and legal paperwork to be accurate and error-free. Otherwise, the financial stability of your business could be threatened.

Many different legal issues can arise involving commercial property owners and tenants. Often, such issues become a problem when the tenant fails to abide by the rules outlined in a lease agreement with the property owner. Such issues can include:

  • Breach of contract
  • Nonpayment of rent
  • Destruction of property
  • Evicting deadbeat commercial tenant
  • Other times, the landlord or property owner is to blame. Common legal issues include:
  • Bullet list
  • Breach of contract
  • Lease disputes
  • Failure to maintain property
  • Failure to repair hazardous conditions
  • Termination of lease without proper notice

Whether you're a landlord or tenant, an individual or a large corporation, our law firm can help you with your commercial tenant dispute.

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Commercial Developments

Commercial real estate developments in Southern California can be extremely valuable. Depending on the size and location of the development, the property could be worth hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars.

There are many reasons why your business should hire an attorney to deal with your real estate development. Often, many legal issues arise involving the purchase, sale or lease of a commercial property. Common legal issues often involve:

  • Obtaining building permits
  • Negotiating rental agreements
  • Obtaining a clear title review
  • Finalizing purchase and sale agreement
  • Foreclosing on commercial development
  • Evicting deadbeat tenants

Many other legal issues can also often arise involving commercial developments in Southern California. If any part of any contract or lease agreement is wrong, you and your company could be severely affected financially. It's critical that you have an attorney involved as early as possible in the legal process.

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Construction Disputes and Litigation

Disputes involving construction projects in Southern California can cover a wide range. Some of the most common legal issues involving construction projects include:

  • Design defects
  • Construction defects
  • Building code violations
  • Construction delays
  • Breach of contract
  • Unavoidable catastrophes (force majeure clause disputes)
  • Overcharging for unauthorized construction work

Many other legal issues frequently arise involving construction projects in Southern California. With so much at stake, you cannot afford to wait to take legal action. You need to contact our law firm and schedule an appointment today.

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DRE License Revocation Hearings

The California Bureau of Real Estate (formerly known as the California Department of Real Estate) regulates all licensed Realtors in the state. CalBRE (also known as BRE and formerly known as DRE) administers real estate licenses and also oversees disciplinary hearings for allegations of ethical violations against by Realtors.

A license revocation hearing is a serious matter. That's why it's important that you take your hearing seriously right from the start. If you're a Realtor in California and you have your license revoked, you will not be able to do your job. Even if you get your real estate license reinstated, your reputation as a real estate agent or broker could be ruined.

The California Constitution states a professional license can only be revoked or suspended if clear and convincing evidence proves that the license holder acted in a dishonest or unethical manner. Examples include:

  • Real estate agents or brokers who facilitate the sale of commercial properties or residential properties built with defective materials or faulty methods
  • Realtors lying to prospective buyers or sellers
  • Real estate brokers who provide legal advice (which is against the law in California)
  • Mortgage fraud
  • Breach of contract related issues

For instance, after a property sale closes, if the structure develops black mold due to leaky pipes, roofing or windows - leading to damp walls and mold growth - the broker handling the sale for either buyer or seller could lose his or her license.

Due to the complex factors that must be considered in any real estate claim pertaining to construction defects, California real estate license revocation hearings can be very confusing and time-consuming. Fortunately, our law firm can help you every step of the way.

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