Meet Jason Muth and Attorney / Broker Rory Gill of NextHome Titletown and UrbanVillage Legal in Boston, Massachusetts!
Learn about what a real estate attorney does and why it is important to have an experienced real estate attorney readily available - everything from neighborly conflicts to protecting yourself during real estate transactions.
Support the show (https://www.urbanvillagelegal.com)
You found The Real Estate Law Podcast, because real estate is more than just pretty pictures and law goes well beyond the paperwork and courtroom arguments. If you're a real estate professional or looking to build real estate expertise, then welcome to the conversation and discover more at RealEstateLawPodcast.com.Jason + Rory:
Welcome to the real estate law podcast. This is episode number one. We're finally getting around to doing this podcast. Hi Rory. Hello. So let's introduce ourselves first and we'll talk a little bit about why we're doing this, how it started, and we're grateful that you're listening that you found us. We don't expect that lots of people are going to find this just yet, but we think that lots of people will as time goes on, and the interesting thing about having a real estate law podcast is we haven't found any others. Like, we looked and we scoured the iTunes store, we looked around Google Play and all the different places that people host podcasts., and there's a lot of episodes about real estate and law within each other's respective category podcasts. But nothing that's dedicated to real estate law. So, that begs the question, why even do this in the first place? Why do we even need to have a real estate law podcast? And I think what's important is we should probably introduce ourselves first, which will explain a little bit about the motivation behind putting a podcast together that specializes in real estate law. So since I'm the one talking, I'm actually going to introduce myself first even though you're really the star of this podcast. So my name is Jason Muth and I live here in Boston, Massachusetts where we're recording this. And I work in the media actually. I've been in the media for most of my career., I do have an interest in real estate and I am a real estate investor. Wwe'll talk more about that as time goes on. But I have nothing to do with the law. I am not an attorney. I never wanted to be an attorney and sometimes the law is kind of boring. I just, I glaze, I glaze over when I think about it., but the good news here is that we do have somebody on the podcast who not only is an attorney, but as a real estate attorney and that's where the whole real estate law connection comes in. So I'd like to introduce Rory Gill. He is an attorney and a broker also here in Boston, Massachusetts. You could say hi Rory. Hello. That is correct. I am the founding attorney of UrbanVillage Legal, a real estate law practice, and I am the broker owner of NextHome Titletown, both here in Boston. Okay. So that's a lot to unpack. UrbanVillage Legal is the law firm and it specializes in real estate law, real estate law ranging from performing the transactions to helping investors maintain the property, and going into court to help those same investors with their property. Okay. So it's, it's not just sitting behind the table and taking phone calls and processing paperwork. You are sometimes in front of some of the nation's finest judges, prosecuting folks and defending people and doing the things that we all think attorneys do. Correct. That's also correct. Okay. Okay. Now we'll get more into that later. NextHome Titletown you mentioned that. So that is a brokerage that is a brokerage here in Boston. We launched that relatively recently and it's, the area's, progressive real estate brokerage. Okay, there's a lot of real estate brokerages out there, so we'll learn a little bit more about what NextHome Titletown does differently and where it fits in with all the other brokerages that are here in Boston and all around the country, but , let's just take this back for a second because, as we were conceiving this podcast, we decided that, there's just not enough information about how real estate and law intersect. And since you do this all day, every day, and, and most people don't realize they need a real estate attorney until they're in the market looking for a real estate attorney. It's not like a typical product you see advertised on television. Like, you'll see, coffee or vehicles or what have you, constantly advertising, because they know that people are buying this product all the time or, they know that when it's time to go buy that product that they'll remember your product. Now real estate law is one of those almost behind the scenes type things, right? That's correct. And it's a bit of a shame that people come to us when they do after they've already found a home after they've already been working with the broker. They come to us almost as a throwaway as a necessity in the last minute when we can actually be helpful from the very beginning when somebody is first looking at a place down, considering even if they're eligible to buy a place, we can do a lot of coaching and provide a lot of counsel to those people from the very beginning as a real estate attorney. That's correct. Right. Because most people, I think that they understand that you work with an agent or broker, on the real estate side. They're the ones that they'll show you around town, they'll bring you into mls and they'll say, here are the different properties that are on the market that are in your price range or that you're looking for, and, and they're, they're selling the glamour right. Of the real estate side. But, when it comes down to putting pen to paper, is that usually where the attorney comes in or what is your role in that whole transaction process? The way I always word it is the agent is the one that finds the deal for you in the attorney is the one that makes sure you get the deal that you signed up for. Okay. So the agent finds the deal. That's right. And then the attorney is the one that makes sure the deal gets done. That's right. So by the time you close, you actually are getting what you signed up to get. That sounds really simplistic. And is that the easiest way to think about this? I mean that's really, all comes down to is the attorney is like, all right, what, what's the deal at hand? I'm going to make sure you get that deal done. Yes. But there are a lot of moving parts there. Making sure that you get the property in the condition that you signed up to get it free of taxes or extra bills so that you can use the property, how you expect it to be able to use it. We make sure that everything is paid off and you really aren't getting a property that's ready for use as you expected it to be. Right. Okay. So realizing that clearly a real estate attorney is necessary during this process, let's quickly talk about why on earth does the world need a podcast about real estate law. We'll be a little self serving right now first. And then we're going to get into some of the topics as to what a real estate attorneys do. What is our intention of this podcast is really simple. Okay. So we want to try to serve an audience of people that are into real estate that want to see a little bit more about the legal side of it and don't mind listening to our voices for about 15-20 minutes or so. We think some episodes will be longer once we have some guests on them. But for now we are the guests. So, but why should somebody listen to this podcast? Like what, frankly, when I go to a cocktail party, maybe with you or some other people, when I see other attorneys, I get what you do, but I kind of don't and it's to me it seems a little bit boring, but, the law can't be boring. Right? Well that's why we're having this conversation because the law isn't always boring and because real estate is more than just the pretty pictures that you see online. Yes, because we see HGTV all the time. They make it seem so simple, right? You go to three different houses, you pick which one you want, and then you put an offer in on it. Then you have this lovely place to live in Bora Bora or somewhere exotic. But everything is much more complicated than that the process is always much messier than that. And in that mess is where you find the interesting stories and that's what we're hoping to explore. Yes, exactly. So in full disclosure, I will say that the reason that we're together doing this is because we're married. Did we leave that part out? We left that part out up until now. And we seem to talk about this a lot, over dinner. I mean our days are very different when we go to our respective offices, working in the media field, I work with personalities and salespeople and technical folks and , management and lots of different moving parts that are involved in a large media company. And I probably have some stories that , either are over your head when I tell them or they just sound like ridiculous or unbelievable, but that's just because you're not that industry. On the other hand when you tell me some of the stuff that you have to deal with, on the real estate law side, like I'll see you putting on your suit for the day. Oh, are you going to court today? Yes I am. Which case is this one? Oh, that's the one where, we're, we have the sheriff coming and we're throwing people out and , it just sounds terrible. I was like, whoa. , I'm not, I'm not curing cancer here, but , that seems an awful lot more important than what I'm doing. It's certainly, there's a great pivot. Some days we're helping them happy first time home buyer sign the documents at the closing table. Other days we are going to a home with the sheriff to take people out of home, out of houses that they are destroying. And do you find that most attorneys that do real estate transactional work are involved with working with the sheriffs to remove people from their homes if they've overstayed their welcome. Like is that part of the gig or are these really distinct lanes that different attorneys can operate in? They can be distinct lanes. What I do overall is help real estate investors manage their deals and manage their properties. So I see that as one lane. But they are very different aspects of real estate law. Okay. So you'll work with investors and one of those byproducts might be removing a tenant from a property, for example, if the property was sold or if the tenant won't leave after they've been evicted or, describe that a little bit more. I mean I make these words up and hopefully in the order that I say them, it makes a little bit of sense, but you could probably actually repackage that into, what you actually did. Compared to other areas of law, generally speaking, I'm lucky because I get to work with happy people most of the time and they're happy because they're either purchasing a home or because we're working together to build something constructive. And part and parcel with working with the investors is making sure that their investment makes sense and that it's operating correctly, and that sometimes means addressing problems head on, going to court makes for some of the best stories that we can tell. Sometimes the most animated. But those are generally when things have gotten out of control and we tried to, to prevent those situations happening in the first place. Sometimes it's inevitable, sometimes I get involved too late. So we're working towards something constructive with the investors and sometimes that involves laying down the law. Okay, great., so again, we're talking to attorney and broker Rory Gill. He's with UrbanVillage Legal and NextHome Titletown here in Boston. So UrbanVillage Legal. Tell us a little bit about UrbanVillage Legal., when did you guys start? And what have you learned along the way? We've grown from a very small practice back in 2011, that's putting it eight years ago, working with, landlord tenants is basically where we started. Then we picked up a title agency that allowed us to do real estate closings and now we work with lenders, buyers, and sellers from across the state and their transactions. And then we work with property owners and for some advanced things such as condominium conversions, 1031 exchanges, the aforementioned mentioned evictions. Yes. So a lot of those things that I'm guessing that if you're listening to this podcast, you might know what some of those terms are like a 1031 exchange or a title company or title insurance. We could probably unpack a couple of those as, as time goes on because a lot of those could be actual full episodes, but , really quickly, you mentioned having a title company. So is that something that the real estate attorney normally has? And if so, how do you, how do you work in that capacity? In order for a real estate attorney to do a transaction properly, he has to be able to issue title insurance and work with the title insurance company title insurance being title insurance, being, an indemnity to you that allows you to recoup if the, if anything was missed in the transaction. If there are any outstanding liens or encumbrances or anything that gets in the way of you being able to use a property in a normal way, you are protected and covered and your lender is protected and covered. It's a bit of a technical feature. It's not the most exciting part of the job, but any real estate attorney must be able to issue that and that's, we're not all attorneys are able to provide services in the real estate setting because it is a specialized practice area. Do you find that a lot of your clients come to you because they want to buy a title policy or is that one of those things that along the way, during a closing, they discover that they need and that you're the one that can provide that? They never asked for that it, and that's why I'm shying away from the topic a little bit in the first episode because it's not the most exciting thing is just not what somebody is coming to me for. They're not coming because they want the homestead because they want the title indemnity because they want the municipal lien certificate. Nobody is ever thinking like that. What they want is to make sure that they're getting the home that they, that they signed up for and that they're going to have peace of mind after the closing happens. Nobody was looking at those specific items. Those are things that I tread in every day, but they're not the most exciting features of it. I think that I have all of my municipal liens certificates hung up on the wall in the bedroom as you should. Of course. I'm kidding there. I don't even know what that is. I'm guessing I have some of those. I don't know. I mean we've done a couple of transactions together, but I'm going to obviously play the stupid person here because you were well served in this real estate transactions, you do have municipal lien certificates for each. See there you go. That's why we keep you around. Okay, so tell us some other situations where a buyer might need a real estate attorney. When you hear from people what, what are the circumstances? Hey, I need representation for this. It's very state specific. But in Massachusetts you need a real estate attorney at every transaction. Usually it's an attorney who is serving both you and the lender at the same time that is allowed in Massachusetts. And whether or not you do it that way is worth a whole separate conversation. But there's an attorney involved by law, in every transaction. And generally speaking, the buyer gets to choose which attorney, not always, but they do get to choose which attorney performs the transaction. And that's the one that is overseeing everything. Otherwise, if you had a direct transaction with the seller, you don't know if they're going to turn around and pay off what they need to pay off. You don't know where the money's going. The attorney is the trusted source that acts as the intermediary. So like if you do a for sale by owner and you're working directly with someone that is selling your property, you still need an attorney to perform the transaction, even if there's no brokers involved at all, that is correct. Okay. All right. And that is that Massachusetts specific or we are one of many states that require that and there's no necessarily rhyme or reason as to which ones are required and which ones don't. In states that don't use attorneys, they're often called title companies. Right? Right. Like Maine for example. Maine does use title companies as well. California is the big example of a state that uses title companies for transactions, and attorneys are actually rare and transactions there. Are, they really, okay. See, I learned something new. I legit didn't know that. I don't have any property in California, so nor should I. Even if you were in California, you should have an attorney look over things. Especially some of those gorgeous properties in the Hollywood Hills or in Malibu. I mean they've had such issues with fires and floods and things over the past couple, a couple of months and years that you might want to make sure that there were no issues with the property in the past or that you're covered in case you're buying one of those, one of those properties. And be sure to have a good insurance agent too. Yes, very true. So you said title company. So that's title insurance, right? That's, that's related, those two things. Yes. So the states that in Massachusetts there are underwriters in those states that are the ones provided during the transaction directly. Okay, got it. So I think that most people, when they're looking at a real estate transaction and they realize that there's an attorney involved, they're probably seeing you at the closing table. Right? Where you and the buyer or the buyer and the seller come together in some swanky office somewhere where there's of course, lots of volumes of real estate books behind the closing table because all attorneys' offices have to have that. That's not how we do business and that's not how we look. We do have an attractive office space, but it does not fit that description. It doesn't, okay. Well I just kind of presumed that because all the, attorney commercials I see on TV, the personal injury attorneys and the divorce attorneys, they're all right in front of all their volumes and I'm sure they've read them all. But that's the summit. One of the reasons I started doing a brokerage as well is as the attorney, we don't get to see the property. We don't get to really get involved with their clients too much in advance of closing. But we often meet, I've met many clients for the first time in person at the closing itself. In that room with lots of volumes of books. In that conference room with a whiteboard and large TV. We have a little bit of a different feel. Okay. When you do a closing at your office, you're saying. But you do them at other people's offices as well? Yes. We, if it's more convenient for people who will do it in somebody else's office or a registry or other neutral site. Right. Okay. My point being, let's bring it back to what I was saying is that most people kind of don't even see the attorney or maybe haven't even talked to who they'd been working with until that closing table. Like they get there, and suddenly they're there, as the buyer, the seller there as well. And then there might be two attorneys in the room. Is that right? Or can you describe what's happening at that closing table? Because I'm sure that some people who are listening to this podcast, maybe they've never purchased real estate before. They don't, they don't know exactly what that process is like. The closing event itself is becoming a smaller and smaller affair every year., with the advent of online recording and virtual real estate brokerages, the crowd size is getting smaller. It used to be up to three attorneys, one for the bank, one for the buyer, one for the seller, plus a broker on each side, plus all of the parties, and used to have a large full room of people signing a stack of papers. The stack hasn't gotten much smaller, but often the closing is just the attorney and the buyers because the brokers don't necessarily come any more to transactions. The practical need isn't necessarily there. And the buyer's attorney can often process the transaction online. Okay. Now, part of what you do as the attorney though is you're dispersing all the funds, right? So when all these, huge, thousands of dollars of real estate of dollars are being traded hands for most real estate transactions. And I know that you and I have kidded before with your, what's the account called? Not The escrow account. The IOLTA account. Spell that for me - I-O-L-T-A. Interest on Lawyers Trust Account. Okay. Your IOLTA account. Yeah. Where sometimes you'll have millions of dollars in your IOLTA account. We are the ones entrusted to make sure that the money finds correct ultimate destination. Got it - and I don't have the PIN for that ATM card because it's very likely I'll end up at Mohegan Sun with some of those, some of those funds. That's why we are not allowed to have ATM cards for that. What I find so ironic about all of this is that there's so many times that you're working with friends of ours or people that I know that I have no idea that you're working with them. And I'll often find this out because they'll make some reference to their new home that they're buying or oh, they're moving. And I'll say, oh really? No kidding. And they'll look at me as though like, wait, do you not talk to Rory? Like, do you have no idea they we're doing this? But I have a feeling that that's because of the attorney client privilege. That I protect that, and also, when somebody is buying a home, it's their story to tell, not mine. It's their big day, not, not mine, but that money in that IOLTA account that's also not yours. That is also not mine. Okay. Well that's unfortunate because those are, those are some pretty big dollars. But, part of what you're doing at that closing is you're making sure that everyone is getting paid correctly right? D,own to the penny. Okay. So, everything from both brokers that are involved? And if the brokers don't get paid, they will remind you right away. Okay. To, any lien holders. Yup. Right? So what does that mean? So anybody that lays claim to a property, it's typically the seller's mortgage, their HELOC, any overdue taxes that they may not have paid, there can be solar panel companies that have a lien on the property. We just make sure that everything gets paid off so that the buyer doesn't get stuck with the seller's old bills. Right. Okay. And there might be circumstances where perhaps you're working with a trust or you're working with a family that is selling a property they inherited. A number of siblings might have inherited the property and they have to get payment disbursed correctly across them. In those cases, we're looking over the probate attorney's work to make sure that the probate, the estate attorney did their job correctly and have given the proper authorization to make the sale. Okay. So it's another attorney who's involved? That can be. We will also work alongside, sometimes, well, sometimes not so well with the state attorneys and divorce attorneys. Right. Okay. So it feels as though a lot of the benefactors of these real estate transactions are the attorneys themselves. In some cases, there are many attorneys involved. Yes. All right. That's good. All right, so here we are, this is again the first episode of the Real Estate Law Podcast. My name is Jason Muth and this is attorney broker, Rory Gill. And, we've talked a lot about putting together a podcast like this. I think that - when did we buy this microphone? A couple of years ago? About a year and a half ago? Had to have been, because the computer on which we're recording this, it's a, a great MacBook Pro and, I think that this was acquired also a couple of years ago as well. Thinking, okay, we could use this for, the podcast production and whatnot, and then, life happens, right? So two years go by, and part of the real strong motivation behind this is NextHome Titletown. Let's talk about that really quickly and then we'll start to wrap up this episode. But NextHome Titletown is a new brokerage that you have brought to Boston. Yes. It's a real estate brand that started on the West Coast and now has found its way through us to Boston. It's a tech-forward real estate brokerage. I've had the chance to work alongside and across from real estate agents from all over the state beforehand, and we wanted to take the best of those experiences and give it in a consistent way to buyers and sellers. Okay. So, why on earth would an attorney want to launch a brokerage? It seems complicated and it seems like a lot of work. First off, it is both, but, I did because I like it. I've worked as a broker for years as well and I enjoy very much doing the work, but it's an awesome opportunity to help people do transactions the right way, and to help agents themselves who may not have support elsewhere, do transactions the right way. Okay. Because we have said that real estate is more than just the pretty pictures. It is a lot more than just the pretty pictures. And if you put up the pretty pictures and don't do the rest of the work, nobody will be happy. Got It. The strength of the entire team, the weakest link on your real estate team is going to set the tone for the whole transaction. So you want to make sure that everybody you work with from the lender to the home inspector, to the attorney, to the broker is qualified and they have your best interest at heart. Cool. Okay, so Rory, let's go over where you can be found. If anyone needs to reach out to you, I'm pretty easy to find online. I'm at NextHomeTitletown.com or UrbanVillageLegal.com. Should we give your actual email addresses or can they find you on those websites? They should be able to find me on the websites. They can find on the websites. Okay, great. Well, once again, thank you for listening. This has been The Real Estate Law Podcast, episode number one. You can comment where you downloaded this episode, whether it was on iTunes or Google Play, or Stitcher, or Spotify, or anywhere you might've found this. We really appreciate all of your feedback. Feel free to email us at, either of Rory's websites, or make a comment on our podcast page. And thank you so much for listening. Thank you!Announcer:
This has been The Real Estate Law Podcast, because real estate is more than just pretty pictures and law goes well beyond the paperwork and courtroom arguments. We're powered by NextHome Titletown, Greater Boston's progressive real estate brokerage more at NextHomeTitletown.com. And UrbanVillage Legal, Massachusetts Real Estate Council serving savvy property owners, lenders and investors more at UrbanVillageLegal.com. Today's conversation was not legal advice, but we hope you found it entertaining and informative. Discover more at RealEstateLawPodcast.com. Thank you for listening.