| Our Services In General
Sirkin & Associates is a boutique law practice that handles only a narrow range of real estate co-ownership matters, including tenants in common (TIC), fractional ownership, condominium conversion, amendment and revision of CC&Rs and other condominium documents, equity sharing, new construction subdivision, shared ownership, and real estate investment ventures. Keeping our practice narrow and focused allows us to deliver expert advice and assist our clients quickly, efficiently and cost-effectively. Our experience and familiarity with the many issues that arise in connection with shared ownership allows us to provide our clients with an inexpensive dispute resolution forum, either via phone consultation or in-house mediation. We do not, however, represent individual clients in litigation or disputes of any kind.
The two central principles of our practice are:
• To create legal and usage structures that withstand the test of time, and to create agreements in plain English with a detailed and easy-to-use table of contents; and
• To ensure that our clients know exactly what their costs will be before hiring us by offering flat fee or not-to-exceed pricing structures for the vast majority of our work.
To reach us by phone, dial +1-415-738-8545 (US) or +33-1-76-66-02-02 (France).
Tenancy In Common (TIC) With Occupancy Rights
Sirkin & Associates was a pioneer in the area of tenants in common (TIC) arrangements involving occupancy rights assignments, which are often used as a substitute for subdividing a property when true subdivision is impossible or unduly expensive. In 1985, Andy Sirkin created the legal and transactional structure which has become the industry standard for this type of TIC. Over the succeeding years, Andy’s innovations have included being the first state-approved real estate instructor for occupancy-based TICs, being the first to obtain state approval for a large-building TIC sale, being the first to convince institutional lenders to offer individual TIC financing, and being the first to develop the loan documents and lender underwriting guidelines for fractional TIC financing. In recent years, the type of co-ownership arrangement Andy conceived nearly 25 years ago has grown to comprise approximately 1/3 of all attached-home sales in San Francisco.
Sirkin & Associates has prepared close to 3,000 occupancy-based TIC agreements for properties of every size and type, and continues to assist in the vast majority of these transactions in California. This unmatched level of experience allows us to offer time-tested approaches for the vast majority of co-ownership situations, to quickly and effectively solve problems, and to produce documents that are clear, easy to navigate and read, and efficient and cost-effective to enforce. We continue to improve our documents each month as we encounter new situations and learn more about what TIC arrangements perform best in the real world. We also share our accumulated knowledge, and support real estate professionals and the TIC community, by continuously publishing new articles on our website and offering free educational workshops.
Our tenancy in common practice involves general advice and counseling, TIC agreement preparation, loan documents, and ongoing consultation to developers, seller, Realtors and TIC owners, on either a flat fee or hourly basis. We have a well-deserved reputation for returning calls promptly and providing fast turnaround times. But more important, we are known for finding creative solutions, calming fears, and finding common ground, so that transactions and relationships work. Although our role usually begins at the time the tenancy in common is first formed or sold, we are committed to remaining available to solve problems throughout the life of each TIC. Contact us via email at [email protected], or by telephone at 415-738-8545.
Sirkin & Associates has provided legal support and documents for fractional real estate projects, ranging from one house or condo to hundreds of units, throughout the world including the US, Europe, the Caribbean, Central and South America. Our broad experience allows us to deliver unusually fast and cost-effective service by drawing on a huge library of fractional documentation and extensive knowledge of legal requirements for virtually any location where a project might be located or marketed. Our goal is to create legal and usage structures that withstand the test of time, and to explain them in plain English.
Our fractional ownership practice involves general advice and counseling on project structure, usage arrangements and marketing, fractional ownership document preparation, fractional real estate ownership project registration and governmental approvals, fractional loan documents, and ongoing consultation to developers, seller, Realtors and fractional property owners. We offer most of these services on a flat-fee basis, and our rates are generally lower than those of other firms with similar levels of experience.
Condominium Conversion and New Construction Subdivision-San Francisco
Sirkin & Associates has been guiding clients through San Francisco condominium conversions and subdivisions for almost 20 years, and have completed more SF conversions than any other firm. Over the years, we have been involved in drafting many of the laws that govern SF condominium conversions, and have helped develop many of the procedures used by the San Francisco Department of Public Works (“DPW”) Bureau of Street Use and Mapping (“BSM”). Our breadth of experience makes it likely that if a glitch appears in the condominium conversion process, we will have seen something similar before and know exactly what to do. And for those rare occasions when a completely new issue arises, we are the recognized masters at developing creative solutions that save our clients time and money.
Experience has taught us that the most important things to our clients are the immediate availability of staff to answer client questions and diligence in following the process of governmental approval. To ensure we achieve these goals, we have a full-time paralegal, Cam Perridge, devoted to client contact, preparation of subdivision applications, and monitoring subdivision approvals. Cam maintains a direct-access telephone line and can be reached easily any weekday to discuss the status of a conversion or subdivision process. And for those occasions when you need to speak with an attorney, Andy Sirkin is committed to being available to you when you call or within the next 24 hours. Andy is known for his diligence in calling clients back quickly, and is more committed than ever to being easily reached.
But while processing the condominium conversion or subdivision quickly and efficiently may be our client’s most immediate priority, the governing documents (the Declaration of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions, or “CC&Rs” supplemented in some cases by Bylaws and/or Articles) will have much greater long-term impact. The quality of the governing documents will directly affect the quality of life of the owners, as well as their ability to refinance and sell. Andy Sirkin has been co-author of the past 10 editions of The Condominium Bluebook, and his expertise in preparing condominium governing documents is recognized throughout California. Sirkin & Associates governing documents continue to be the ones other firms emulate, and Realtors, lenders and buyers strongly prefer. This leadership results from constant improvement and innovation that makes our documents easier to read and understand, as well as more efficient and less expensive to enforce.
Before you choose a lawyer to handle your condo conversion or new construction subdivision, take a moment to speak with Cam, Andy, or attorney Rosemarie MacGuinness, at Sirkin & Associates. Our practice includes all required City and State applications and filings, as well as preparation of any governing documents you may need. We offer these services on a flat-fee basis, and our rates are generally lower than those of other firms.
Homeowners Associations (HOA) Organization, Startup CC&Rs-Bylaws Interpretation, and Advice
Sirkin & Associates has assisted in the organization and startup of thousands of homeowners associations ranging in size from two owners to hundreds of owners. As you might imagine, over our thirty years of advising HOAs, we have seen serious organizational mistakes, repeated failure to file tax returns and other important documents, miserable homeowner behavior, ridiculously complicated situations, and seemingly uninterpretable documents. We draw on those experiences when we counsel and assist homeowners associations. Our ongoing HOA support includes step-by-step guidance for initial meetings, establishing budgets and dues, opening bank accounts, making tax filings, and keeping records. We can also interpret applicable law, CC&Rs, Bylaws, TIC Agreements and Rules, and help owners associations determine the best way to enforce their rights and resolve disputes with owners.
CC&Rs and Bylaws: Creation, Replacement and Amendment
The documents governing homeowners associations, called the covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&Rs), bylaws and rules, need regular updating or revision to accommodate changed circumstances, comply with the latest law, and remove obsolete provisions. Associations also replace their governing documents because the old documents are hard to understand and/or use, or do not effectively deal with the real problems of the association.
Our condominium governing documents are often described by other attorneys and governmental officials as the most modern, easy to understand, and effective in California. We update our templates regularly to incorporate changes in legislation and case law, and we are constantly re-examining and improving our language as a result of client experiences learned through in-house mediations and client consultations. Our emphasis is on making the documents easy for non-lawyers to navigate and apply, and minimizing the likelihood that a dispute will result in arbitration or court action. We take most pride, however, in customizing CC&Rs to the property and the clients themselves. While much of the CC&Rs language is mandated by California law, a substantial portion of the document details maintenance responsibilities as between the owner and the association, (and also, as necessary, as between a subset of owners) clarifies exclusive use areas (e.g., restrictions on use, alterations permitted), voting and insurance requirements, and sets forth usage restrictions such as occupancy and pets. Providing clear language regarding these issues facilitates the smooth operation of the association by eliminating uncertainty, avoiding disputes, and saving time and money.
We offer CC&R and Bylaw drafting, re-drafting and amendment services on an affordable flat fee basis.
Condominium Conversion and New Construction Subdivision-California and Other States
We offer condominium conversion and new construction subdivision services for projects throughout California and in other US states, but our services are limited to State-level approvals and registration, preparation of governing documents, and general liability and sales-related advice. We offer these services on a flat-fee basis, and our rates are generally lower than those of other firms with similar levels of experience. We do not provide services related to local government construction or conversion/subdivision entitlements for projects located outside San Francisco.
Andy Sirkin is a recognized expert in equity sharing, and the author of the Home Equity Sharing Manual, first published by John Wiley and Sons in 1994. In addition to representing clients in equity sharing transactions of all types over the past 27 years, the firm has consulted on most large-scale and institutional equity sharing programs which have been offered over this period, and created equity sharing programs for several large universities, private secondary schools, employers, and religious organization. Andy has also acted as an expert witness and consultant to District Attorneys in cases involving equity sharing fraud and other malfeasance.
Our equity sharing practice involves general advice and counseling, equity sharing agreement preparation, loan documents (including shared appreciation mortgages), and ongoing consultation to seller, buyers, Realtors, and institutions with equity sharing programs. We offer equity sharing agreements on a flat-fee basis.
Shared Ownership and Co-Ownership
Over the past 23 years, Sirkin & Associates has developed shared ownership structures, and created shared ownership agreements, for virtually every type of co-ownership arrangement ranging from the relatively ordinary (unmarried couple buying a home together), to the extremely unusual (co-housing, intentional communities, yurt communes, shared wineries, shared horse stables etc.). The odds are that, regardless of how unusual your shared ownership situation or issue, we have seen it or something like it before, and will be able to help you more ably and cost-effectively that a generalist who needs to “reinvent the wheel”.
Investment Partnerships, LLCs, 1031 TICs and Private Placement Securities
Sirkin & Associates provides advice, documentation and support to real estate investor groups and real estate investment partnerships, and for real estate developers, syndicators and entrepreneurs seeking to raise capital for real estate projects. We assist with development of real estate transaction structure and planning, entity formation (including LLCs, LPs and corporations), and documentation such as partnership agreements, operating agreements, investor questionnaires, subscription agreements and private placement memoranda.
Mediation of TIC, HOA, and other Real Estate Disputes
Sirkin & Associates provides mediation services for disputes relating to real estate purchase contracts, shared ownership, homeowners associations, tenant in common (TIC), family properties or partnerships, vacation home sharing and timeshare, and other similar matters. Our success rate with real estate dispute mediation is currently above 90%. We achieve this through a combination of patience, careful listening, knowledge of related law, and creativity in proposing solutions and convincing parties why adopting our proposed solutions will be better than continuing to fight. Mediation through our firm is easy to initiate and inexpensive. Neither side needs to hire an attorney. Sessions can be limited to 1-2 hours, and parties pay only for the time used. Since, in most cases, the parties leave the mediation session with a signed agreement, the mediation produces immediate results. While the mediation is best held in person at our office, we also conduct mediations via phone conference.
Real Estate Transactions-Sales Without Realtors/Agents/Brokers
Sirkin & Associates represents sellers and buyers in real estate transactions where no Realtor, real estate agent or broker is involved.