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Real Estate

Real Estate Services, including development and zoning matters. Also, see Oil & Gas.

Bishop & Heintz attorneys are leaders in real estate and development issues in northern Michigan. Our attorneys provide legal counsel and advocacy in a wide variety of matters directly or indirectly related to real estate, including:

  • Transactions between buyers and sellers of real estate and businesses
  • Entity formation for ownership and operation real estate investments and related businesses
  • Commercial and residential leases and licenses
  • Historic Preservation and Conservation easements
  • Water and riparian rights
  • Real estate development
  • Land use matters, including planned unit developments, special land use permits, variances, zoning boards of appeal, planning commissions, rezoning, appeals to circuit and state appellate courts regarding municipal review of development
  • Eminent domain, regulatory takings, unconstitutional restrictions of private property rights
  • Municipal law
  • Condominiums, including the establishment of condominiums and Associations, representation of Developers and Associations, and co-owner disputes.
  • Establishment, amendment and vacation of plats
  • Street, road, and highway vacation
  • Construction law
  • Construction liens
  • Municipal counsel
  • Administrative and regulatory approval for land and water use permits from state and local agencies including MDEQ and townships
  • Land divisions and redivisions
  • Homestead and farmstead tax exemptions
  • Entity and partnership formation and dissolution
  • Vacation home and cottage planning
  • Village, Township and County matters
  • Resort and hotel matters
  • Litigation concerning all real estate related matters, including quiet title actions
  • Trespass
  • Adverse possession
  • Zoning

Fees for real estate matters are determined on a case-by-case basis. Some matters, such as site condominium and PUD projects may be either on a fixed fee quotation, or an hourly rate. Fees for real estate matters should be discussed in a first meeting with counsel concerning the matter at hand.


REAL PROPERTY

Bishop and Heintz represents individuals, businesses, banks, municipalities, and insurance companies in all aspects of real estate law, from complex real property litation to residential real estate transactions.  Our real property team practices across the State of Michigan to obtain successful outcomes for our clients, including in the following sub-specializations:

  • ZONING AND LAND USE PLANNING.  The real property team has successfully represented business, individuals and municiaplities and nonprofits in a variety of zoning and land use planning  matters. 
    • Our team has successfuly represented businesses, governmental agencies, and individuals seeking approval of new or expanded uses in northern Michigan such as the siting and construction of cellular communications towers and facilities, the development of large scale commercial, lodging and recreational facilities, the approval and construction of public school academies. 
    • In certain cases our team has represented individuals, nonprofit and business interests opposed to requests for new or expanded commercial uses in northern Michigan, and across the State.  We have successfully prevented the use sought in many of these cases through combinations of local and state administrative proceedings, and state court lawsuits and appeal, or in federal district courts for the State of Michigan.    Our attorneys have substantial experience forming and representing nonprofit organizations and associations in connection in appropriate matters. 
    • We will assist business and individuals to obtain special land use approvals, variances, and special exceptions from a variety of local and state regulations as applicable.  We will also assist construction and design professionals in a consulting capacity to identify potential regulatory hurdles before or during the administrative approval phase.
  • REAL ESTATE TAX MATTERS.
    • Michigan's real property taxes are a common source of disputes between property owners and governmental bodies.  Our real property team reparesents homeowners and businesses in all areas pertaining to property taxes.  The most common matters are:
      • Principal Residence Exemption planning and appeals for individuals and families owning more than one home.  Michigan's principal residence exemption offers a substantial tax savings if their Michigan dwelling is qualified as a principal residence.  Because the law is not clear about what factors are necessary to qualify for a principal residence, this is a frequent area of confusion for homeowners, and one in which our firm can play an important role in planning for tax savings.
      • Property Succession Planning.  Residential property taxes in Michigan may not increase more than permitted by the Headlee amendment in any given year.  This is generally referred to as a cap.  The Headlee Amendment cap only applies for so long as you own your home.  When you transfer your residential property, it will become uncapped, and the assessor may increase the property taxes in an amount greater than the increase permitted by the Headlee Amendment.  This has caused a substantial amount of confusion among property owners who seek to sell or give all or a partial interest in their property to their children or loved ones.  It is important to consult knowledgeable counsel before you transfer any residential real estate in Michigan as an unanticipated uncapping event may cause unneccessary tax increases. 
      • Property Tax Appeals.  In Michigan, your township or city assessor is charged with determing the property taxable value for your real property.  It is not uncommon for assessors to overlook facts which would lower your property taxes.  Your property may not have been assessed at its correct fair market value, your assessor may have refused to take into consideration specific circumstances which reduce the value of your property, or may have improperly attibuted a "transfer of ownership" to you. 
      • It is important to review your tax bill with a knowledgable attorney as quickly as possible becuase there are specific timelines to preserve your rights before the local board of review and the Michigan Tax Tribunal. 
      • Commercial and Agricultural Property Tax Appeals.  Our real property team will represent your business in all real and personal property tax appeals before local board of review and the Michigan Tax Tribunal.   We have consistenty reduced tax bills for our commerial clients.  Contingent fees may be available in certain circumstances. 
  • historic preservation law and easements
  • conservation law and easements
  • title disputes
  • boundary line disputes
  • ingress, egress, and access disputes
  • residential sales and purchases
  • commercial sales and purchases
  • landlord and tenant issues
  • mobile home park issues
  • building code violations
  • barrier free access appeals
  • CONDOMIUM LAW
    • Our real property team represents many condominium developements and condominium associations and homeowners associations, with a focus on providing cost effective practical advice. 
    • The Michigan Condominium Act, the Master Deed, Condominium Bylaws and Association Bylaws, and any applicable rules and regulations govern every condominium develoement.  Issues often arise between the developer the association and co-owners as the developer amends the condominium documents and sells units.  It is important for co-owners and associations to understand the condominium documents, their relationship to the Michigan Condominium Act, and how to resolve disputes in a manner which is likey to maintain harmony among the co-owners and developer where feasible.
  • WATER LAW.
    • We live in an community which prides itself on the natural features, beauty and recreational opportunities.  With these opportunites and beauty also comes resonsiblities of property owers to share these resources appropriately.  These rights and responsibilities often breed disputes and disagreements among property owners, condominium or homeowner associations, municipal and state governmental bodies.  Our real property team has repeatedly helped our clients navigate these challenges with a balance appropriate to the circumstances.   Water law issues which commonly arise in Michigan include:
      • the extent or limits of riparian rights
      • beach access rights
      • dock and hoist access rights
      • funnelling or keyholing issues
      • erosion
      • beach maintenance rights
      • beach improvement issues
      • water wells and septic tank issues.
      • local regulation of water rights
      • shared beachfront disputes
      • marina and boat slip controversies
  • Homeowners associations
  • Real estate tax assessment issues and appeals, zoning, land use planning