Real Estate

Our national real estate practice is sought out by owners, developers, borrowers and tenants in connection with the acquisition, financing, development and leasing of a broad array of commercial real estate projects across industry sectors. Our teams advise investors, developers, landlords and tenants in connection with their investments and interests in commercial, retail, multifamily and industrial properties.  Our real estate attorneys are integrated with our tax, environmental, bankruptcy and litigation teams, as well as a variety of industry-specific practice groups, to provide clients the expertise they need to meet their business objectives.  

We are experienced with a complete range of commercial real estate transactions, including those involving:

  • Commercial office and industrial property
  • Mixed-use developments
  • Large institutional owner-developed projects
  • Tax-incentivized development projects including new markets tax credit financings
  • Large residential subdivisions
  • Condominium projects
  • Planned unit developments
  • Multifamily apartment portfolios
  • Manufactured housing communities
  • Educational facilities
  • Shopping centers
  • Golf course communities
  • Technology parks
  • Urban renewal projects

Our experience working for participants on all sides of these transactions provides us with valuable perspective and an ability to implement creative solutions on deals ranging from the simple to the highly complex.

  • Best Law Firms
  • Chambers and Partners Designation

Client Advisory: Coronavirus and Contract Enforcement in Virginia

While governments throughout the world, including the federal government and state governments in the United States, are implementing strategies for controlling the spread and impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19), the economic fallout from the pandemic is being felt on a global scale as well as locally in Virginia.  Forced closings of businesses and schools, employees working remotely and general concerns and uncertainty about the pandemic combine to create novel challenges for businesses.

Client Alert: COVID-19 and Commercial Real Estate Leases

We are increasingly receiving inquiries from clients who want to know if they can stop paying rent under their commercial real estate leases as a result of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on their business operations. The answer, not surprisingly, is that it depends on the specific language set forth in the tenant's commercial real estate lease as well as the applicable law in the jurisdiction that governs the lease and the landlord/tenant relationship.

Client Alert: Coronavirus

In response to the CDC's warnings, businesses need to take action now. Action should include establishing a coronavirus business response action plan and adopting new policies that would go into effect in the event of a pandemic.

The Real Deal - Fall 2019 Issue

Recent Stormwater Regulations and Development Concerns in the Mid-Atlantic

Richmond Continues to Assess Short-Term Rentals

Recent Stormwater Regulations and Development Concerns in the Mid-Atlantic

Aging infrastructure, a desire to reduce pollutant loads, rising sea levels, and the impact of more intense weather events have created an urgent need for state and local governments to upgrade their water infrastructure, including stormwater systems. The public focus on water infrastructure tends to gravitate towards clean water and wastewater issues given the immediate public health impacts when those systems are not properly functioning. While those issues are important to address, stormwater infrastructure plays an often unseen and increasingly critical role in our communities.

Richmond Continues to Assess Short-Term Rentals

Through public hearings continuing into fall and winter 2019, the Richmond community continues to debate the benefits and shortcomings presented by the city’s proposed Short-Term Rental regulations (STRs, in short). May marked the close of the survey period in which Richmonders could share their thoughts on proposed regulations, and the public hearing period since has revealed the community’s concern and frustration regarding those significant questions left unanswered by the proposal.

Opportunity is Knocking (at least in Baltimore County)

Anyone active in the Baltimore County development arena is aware that the process never gets easier.  Regulations continue to tighten, communities continue to protest development, and costs continue to rise.  Earlier this summer, facing budget shortfalls, the Baltimore County Council passed legislation instituting impact fees on residential development and development impact surcharges on nonresidential and multi-family development.  (Reach out to us if you have any concerns on the impact of this legislation on any of your projects!)  As the saying goes, the only thing that remains constant is change.

The Real Deal - March 2019

What You Should Know About Qualified Opportunity Zones

Whiteford Adds Leading Real Estate and Corporate Practices in Richmond

The Real Deal - August 2018

U.S. Supreme Court Decision Permits States to Charge Sales Tax for Online Purchases

U.S. Supreme Court Decision Permits States to Charge Sales Tax for Online Purchases

On June 21, 2018, the Supreme Court issued its opinion in South Dakota v. Wayfair, Inc., overturning Quill Corp. v. North Dakota, 504 U.S. 298 (1992) and National Bellas Hess v. Illinois, 386 U.S. 753 (1967), and ushering in a new paradigm for sales tax nexus. Ultimately, the court held that the physical presence rule as refined in Quill was unsound and incorrect and that states may charge sales tax on purchases from out-of-state sellers that do not have a physical presence in the taxing state, so long as the seller has “substantial nexus” with the taxing state. 

The Real Deal - October 2017

Fairfax County Accepting Plan Amendment Nominations for North County Districts

New Zoning Code Threatened by Urban Renewal Plans

New Zoning Code Threatened by Urban Renewal Plans

In June 2017, after nearly ten years of planning, drafting and revising, Baltimore City’s new zoning code became law.  In some areas of Baltimore, however, existing Urban Renewal Plans are undermining the new code’s visions for growth and development.  While city and neighborhood stakeholders are working to align the new code with existing Urban Renewal Plans, the conflict between the two is creating uncertainty for developers in some areas of the city.

The Real Deal - May 2017

Howard County's Zoning Code and Development Regulations Rewrite Process Has Begun

Baltimore City's New Zoning Code Set To Go Into Effect On June 5, 2017

Baltimore City's New Zoning Code Set To Go Into Effect On June 5, 2017

On December 5, 2016, after nearly ten years since it was initially proposed, the Baltimore City Council passed, and the then Mayor signed into law, a new zoning code and new zoning maps for the City of Baltimore (Baltimore City Council Bill No. 12-0152). The new zoning code, dubbed “TransForm Baltimore”, replaces the current 1971 Zoning Code.  The new code and maps become effective on June 5, 2017.

Howard County's Zoning Code and Development Regulations Rewrite Process Has Begun

For the first time since the 1970’s, Howard County is undertaking an assessment and rewrite of its zoning and development regulations, and associated development manuals.  No doubt Howard County’s Department of Planning and Zoning has set in place an organized process for this comprehensive undertaking, but it promises to be slow.  The process is comprised of two phases and will likely take three (3) years to complete.

The Real Deal - June 2015

Tax Tangles: Real Estate Agents (But Not Mortgage Brokers) May Qualify As Real Estate Professionals

The Baltimore County Zoning Map Process Is Here Again

The Changing Impact of Comprehensive Planning on Zoning

Recent decisions from trial and appellate courts have marked a major point in the evolution of importance of comprehensive plans to zoning decisions.   Although there has always been a close relationship between comprehensive plans and development regulations, the relationship between comprehensive plans and land use or zoning regulations has been less close.  That may be changing and could have major implications for local zoning decisions including comprehensive re-zonings. 

Don't Put Off That Development Project

Years ago a Baltimore County employee told me that no matter how onerous I thought the development regulations might be, if I waited a while they would get worse. 

That cautionary statement is applicable to today’s marketplace.  The State of Maryland has become very involved in local land use decisions, and the Maryland Department of the Environment, along with numerous non-profit environmental groups, has become very aggressive in planning for and regulating both current pollution levels and future pollution levels.

Tax Tangles: Income Tax Watch List for Real Estate

This edition of The Real Deal inaugurates “Tax Tangles,” a new periodic feature by members of WTP’s Tax Section. In this inaugural article, Michael J. Grace, Counsel in our Washington, DC office, highlights two provisions of federal income tax law to which businesses and individuals in the real estate industry should pay particular attention: Like-Kind Exchanges and 3.8% Net Investment Income Tax.

The State Acts: the Environmental Impact on Business, 2013 and 2014

The close of 2013 saw several developments in environmental regulatory matters that Maryland businesses and individuals should consider as they make plans for the coming year and beyond.  A common theme in many of these state programs and initiatives is the role and cost of stormwater management and how many of them are connected to and dependent on one another.  Because of these issues, businesses are encouraged to take a larger and long-term view of what is being required, what is likely to be required and what may be done in response.  As the 2014 General Assembly session begins on January 8th, businesses should carefully evaluate how these recent developments may affect their operations and budgets. 

The "Maryland MARS" Act; Strict New Rules for Real Estate Agents

Effective July, 1, 2013, Maryland has a new law that regulates individuals and entities providing services in “short sale” transactions.  The new law is named the Maryland Mortgage Assistance Relief Services Act (“Maryland MARS”).  The provisions dealing with this new statute may be found in the “Real Property Article,” Section 7-501 et seq. and also in the “Commercial Law Article,” Section 14-1901 et seq.

What Does Your Commercial Lease Say About the New Stormwater Fees?

It’s been the talk of the town.  House Bill 987 passed by the General Assembly in 2012 requires ten major jurisdictions to implement a watershed protection and restoration program and to apply a storm water remediation fee to fund the program by July 1, 2013.  So what does this mean for property owners?  Residential property owners are subject to a set annual fee ranging from $11 to $195 depending on the county in which your property is located. 

Coming to a Locality Near You - Stormwater Remediation Fees in Maryland

Maryland has new stormwater fees that are being implemented county-by-county.

On May 2, 2012, Governor O’Malley signed into law House Bill 987.  In short, the law requires jurisdictions within Maryland subject to a federal Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) Phase I permit to establish a local stormwater protection and restoration program and implement a local stormwater fee to fund that Program by July 1, 2013. 

"Sign of the Times" in Baltimore County

I was fortunate to spend the first half of my professional career working in Baltimore County Government, and for many of those years I was the Director of Permits and Development Management, overseeing the entire development process in Baltimore County. In that capacity I regulated many things, one of which was signage.

The Real Deal - September 2012

Shopping Center Leases and Franchises: A Landlord's Checklist

Time to Revise the Attorneys' Fee Provisions in Your Maryland Contracts

Shopping Center Leases and Franchises: A Landlord's Checklist

Because of their brand recognition, consistency of operation and support network, franchised businesses can be wonderful tenants at shopping centers and other multi-use commercial properties.  Franchisees are small business owners with substantial investments and drive to succeed, but who are able to use brands and business systems that provide competitive advantages.   However, a lease with a franchisee raises concerns separate and distinct from those with independent small business owners or with regional or national chain store operators.

Special Legislative Alert

The 2012 Maryland General Assembly Session ended on April 9th with the passage of a number of bills that promise to have a significant impact on real estate and land development activities in Maryland.

Collecting Holdover Rent Just Became A Little Harder

What does your lease provide with respect to a tenant holding over after the end of the term?  Does it clearly define what constitutes a “holding over?”  In the recent case of Carroll Indep. Fuel Co. v. Washington Real Estate Investment Trust, the Maryland appellate court addressed the contours of a tenant holding over in ways that may be different from what a landlord would expect.  Perhaps both landlords and tenants need to take a closer look at a clause that is not frequently heavily negotiated, but which also may be interpreted by courts in ways that the parties did not anticipate.

The Real Deal - November 2011

Lead Paint: The Court Throws the Rental Market into Turmoil

Maryland Ground Rent Lease Safeguards Begin to Come Undone

Baltimore City Releases “TransForm 2.0”

Lead Paint: The Court Throws the Rental Market into Turmoil

On October 24, 2011, Maryland’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, issued its decision in Jackson v. Dackman Co., and found that the immunity provisions of The Reduction of Lead Risk in Housing Act (the “Act”) are unconstitutional.  Previously, the Act provided property owners with immunity from lead based paint claims if they complied with its provisions and/or if a qualified offer was made.  However, for reasons discussed in more detail below, the Court held that the immunity provisions of the Act are unconstitutional because the statutory remedy provided by the Act is unreasonable.

Maryland Ground Rent Lease Safeguards Begin to Come Undone

In 2007, Maryland enacted a series of laws intended to protect residential ground tenants from the loss of their homes as a result of failing to pay ground rent and, further, to facilitate the extinguishment and redemption of residential ground rent leases.  An impetus for the legislation was provided by a series of articles appearing in the Baltimore Sun in 2006 highlighting extreme ground rent lawsuits and seemingly inequitable ejectments of residents by ground rent owners.  On October 25, 2011, the Court of Appeals in Muskin v. State Department of Assessments and Taxation, struck down part of one of those laws with respect to the extinguishment of ground rent leases not registered with the Maryland State Department of Assessments and Taxation (“SDAT”) by September 30, 2010. 

Energy Star, Tax Incentives and Capital Improvements, oh my! Why Investing Now in Energy Efficiency Shouldn’t Scare Commercial Building Owners

Numerous programs exist that provide real financial benefits and market positioning opportunities for commercial and certain multi-family building owners looking to benefit from improvements in energy efficiency.  In fact, some owners are finding that the cost of modest capital improvements can be accounted for through reduced future utility expenses.   If these improvements allow an owner to then capitalize on available federal tax incentives, possibly save their tenants money and position themselves in the marketplace, the benefits can be substantial.

MDE Proposes New Erosion & Sediment Control Regulations

At the end of August, the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) proposed new Erosion & Sediment Control Regulations that will impact most land development activities across Maryland that disturb more than 5,000 square feet of land area and more than 100 cubic yards of earth.  The proposed regulations generally provide that no grading or building permit may be issued for a project unless an erosion & sediment control plan drafted in accordance with its requirements is first approved.

The Real Deal - September 2011

MDE Proposes New Erosion & Sediment Control Regulations

Energy Star, Tax Incentives and Capital Improvements, oh my! Why Investing Now in Energy Efficiency Shouldn’t Scare Commercial Building Owners

The Real Deal - May 2011

Expansive "Exclusive Use" Clauses in Retail Leases Can Lead to Costly Litigation

PlanMaryland - An Effort at "Smarter" Growth

Maryland's New International Green Construction Code Law

Baltimore County's 2012 Comprehensive Zoning Map Process Commences this Year

Bill to Toll Permits Fails in Maryland

The Real Deal - Winter 2010

Pandora, a Retail Success Story Bucking the Trend

Baltimore County Master Plan 2020 and Comprehensive Zoning

The Real Deal - Fall 2010

New Green Building Standards Approved for Baltimore City

"ESD to the MEP": Could Your Development Project be Exempt?

2010 Plan Maryland

The Real Deal - Summer 2010

Trinity Assembly of God v. People's Counsel for Baltimore County

Landlord's Remedies for a Tenant's Failure to Pay Rent Under Maryland Law

The Growth Goals of Baltimore County's Master Plan 2020 - Are PUDs the Answer?

Real Estate Assets in Distress - Summer 2009

In Current Economic Climate, Maryland Counties Embrace State Law Tolling Local Development Approvals

Governments Work to Provide Incentives and Mandates for Building Green

Leasing Survival: What You Can Do In A Weak Real Estate Market

Burning New Ground in Maryland Subrogation Law: Rausch v. Allstate Insurance Co.

In a landlord-tenant relationship, when should a tenant be concerned about its liability if its negligence, or the negligence of its employees, causes great damage to the leased premises or to the remainder of the shopping center? Does existing law offer protection to unwary tenants?  An insurer may have the right to sue the tenant if its policy contains a subrogation provision.  Subrogation is the substitution of one person for another, giving the substitute the same legal rights as the original party.  For example, an insurance company usually has a right of subrogation to sue anyone whom the person it compensated had a right to sue.  Where real property is damaged and an insurer invokes a subrogation action, it stands in the shoes of the insured to recover against the third party that caused damage to the insured's property.  As a result, without appropriate lease language, a tenant may be liable for the total cost to rebuild a shopping center.

2003 Maryland Legislative Update: Part 1

Each year the Maryland Legislature enacts a number of laws which impact, in varying degrees, on the personal and business lives of people living in or doing business in the State of Maryland. The General Assembly adjourned on April 7, 2003, and the Session actively concluded when the Governor enacted legislation into State law during four separate signing ceremonies on April 8, April 22, May 13 and May 22, 2003.

2002 Maryland Legislative Update, Part 2

Each year the Maryland Legislature enacts a number of laws which impact in various degrees on the personal and business lives of people living in or doing business in the State of Maryland. The General Assembly adjourned on April 8, 2002, and the Session actively concluded when the Governor enacted legislation into State law during four separate signing ceremonies on April 9, April 25, May 6 and May 16.

Chambers Honors Whiteford in 11 Practice Areas

Whiteford, Taylor & Preston is pleased to announce that Chambers and Partners has once again ranked the firm highly in its 2019 list of leading firms and business lawyers.

Whiteford Adds Eminent Corporate and Real Estate Practices in Richmond

Whiteford Taylor & Preston today announced continued expansion in Richmond with the addition of a highly regarded group of corporate and real estate attorneys, including partners Katja H. Hill and John C. Selbach, and associates Jonathan Jones and Nicole K. Scott.

U.S. News Awards Top-Tier Rankings to 46 Whiteford Practices, Including 18 Nationally

Whiteford, Taylor & Preston is pleased to announce that U.S. News and World Report - Best Lawyers ® “Best Law Firms” has awarded the firm exemplary rankings for 2019.  Eighteen of the firm’s practices are ranked at the national level, including two practices with national Tier 1 rankings:  Litigation and Bankruptcy.  At the state level, an additional forty-six practices have been ranked in Maryland, Washington, D.C., and VA.

Land Use and Zoning Attorney Keith Martin Joins Whiteford NOVA Office

Baltimore – Whiteford Taylor & Preston announced today that Keith C. Martin, a Northern Virginia based land use and zoning attorney with thirty-five years of experience in the region, has joined the firm as counsel in its Falls Church office.

“We are pleased to welcome Keith to the firm,” said Managing Partner Martin Fletcher. ”His reputation and experience add significantly to our capabilities for serving our clients’ land use and zoning needs in Virginia, as well as Maryland.” 

Whiteford, Taylor & Preston and 29 Lawyers Honored by Chambers and Partners

Whiteford, Taylor & Preston is pleased to announce that Chambers and Partners has once again ranked the firm highly in its 2017 list of leading firms and business lawyers. This year’s recognition includes a record 29 attorneys in 4 states, the District of Columbia and Afghanistan. 

Tom Barbuti, Partner at Whiteford Taylor & Preston, to Receive Distinguished Maryland Real Property Practitioner of the Year Award

Whiteford, Taylor & Preston is proud to announce that Tom Barbuti, a senior partner in the firm, is to be honored with the Distinguished Maryland Real Property Practitioner of the Year Award by the Real Property Section of the Maryland State Bar Association.  The award, to be formally presented June 12th at the MSBA Annual Meeting in Ocean City, Maryland, recognizes a Maryland real estate attorney best exemplifying the experience, technical skill, client service, integrity, collegiality, and courtesy for which all real estate lawyers strive.

Thomas Barbuti of Whiteford Appointed ICSC Committee Chair

Whiteford Taylor & Preston LLP announced today that the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) has appointed Thomas C. Barbuti for a one-year term as Chair of its Government Relations Committee for Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Northern Virginia. In this volunteer role, Mr. Barbuti will represent the interests of owners, developers, investors, marketers and other retail specialists in the mid-Atlantic.

CorpINTL Names Whiteford Taylor & Preston Real Estate Law Firm of the Year in Maryland

Corporate International Magazine, a British publication targeted at the finance industry worldwide, has announced that Whiteford Taylor & Preston has been selected as the winner of the Corporate Intl Magazine 2010 Legal Awards as Real Estate Law Firm of the Year in Maryland.

The Magazine notes that the Awards recognize law firms that “have shown excellence not only in expertise but in service, and during a difficult global economic downturn.”

WTP to Host Comprehensive Zoning Map Process Seminar

Join us for a half-day seminar on the ins and outs of the upcoming Comprehensive Zoning Map process, which begins in the summer of 2007. Presentations will be made by Baltimore County Councilman Kevin Kamenetz, Jeff Long, and Jeff Mayhew. WTP attorneys G. Scott Barhight and John Gontrum will also be speaking.

Five WTP Attorneys Recognized in Chambers USA, 2004 - 2005

Whiteford, Taylor & Preston L.L.P., is pleased to announce that Thomas C. Barbuti (Real Estate), Joseph K. Pokempner (Labor and Employment), Larry M. Wolf (Labor and Employment), Jeanne M. Phelan (Labor and Employment ), and Robert B. Curran (Corporate) have been recognized in 2004/2005 edition of America's Leading Business Lawyers, published by Chambers & Partners.