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Real Estate Expert Witnesses: Subject Matter Experts That Add Value To Your Case

Real Estate Expert Witnesses: Subject Matter Experts That Add Value to Your Case

Real property disputes often do not result in a trial, which is to the advantage of everyone involved. Real estate expert witnesses can be vital to a case regardless of whether it reaches the trial stage. In fact, much of the value they can add is helping to avoid the expense of going to trial all together. Through initial consulting, assuming the expert witness has the right background and expertise in real estate, they will assess the case by conducting inspections, reviewing exhibits and public documents that help inform case strategy. It is their job to educate the trier of facts (the judge or jury) through their opinions. The expert witnesses can also help clients better understand their case before they proceed too far down the road of litigation. Sometimes, the clients don’t have a case or “don’t have a leg to stand on.” Real estate expert witnesses can be vital in helping to provide a clear, thorough and objective evaluation of the case so that both plaintiff and defense counsel better understand the issues – and potentially reach a settlement before it goes to trial. Recently, I ran into a plaintiff attorney at a networking event and he reminded me that he recently deposed me on a case.  I asked him, “How did I do?”  He responded, “you convinced us that we didn’t have any rent damages and we settled.”  This is a good example of how a deposition can help the opposing counsel find clarity. When it is unavoidable and a real property dispute unfortunately leads to legal proceedings, a team of expert witnesses will partner with attorneys to tackle even the most difficult cases. They dig in, uncover all of the relevant facts on behalf of attorneys and their clients, and provide the type of evidence that can win the case.

Successful Real Estate Expert Witnesses Use Common Sense and Common Terminology to Explain Uncommon Concepts.

The job of an expert witness is to help the jury or judge – the trier of facts – understand things that are uncommon for the average person (or jury member or judge). Actress Marisa Tomei provides a great example of this in the movie, My Cousin Vinny (portrayed by Joe Pesci). Tomei portrays an expert witness who describes the difference between a positraction differential and a limited-slip differential when explaining why the tire tracks in a crime scene photo could not be the defendants’ car. If you have not seen this movie, it is one of our favorites.

Another Kind of Differential in Landlord-Tenant Disputes

In landlord-tenant disputes, a real estate expert witness with the right experience will be able to opine on rent differential damages. This means the difference between market rent and contract or rent-controlled rent. The expert can substantiate findings with complete market rent surveys supporting damage calculations. Warranty of habitability and damages are another area in which potential landlord-tenant disputes that an expert witness steeped in landlord-tenant relations and property management can help to navigate. Under California Civil Code there is obligation and covenant that cannot be waived dictating that all landlords provide leased premises that are suitable living quarters and that will be sufficiently maintained throughout the lease. An expert witness can provide an evaluation of whether the landlord or property manager met the minimum standard of care, as well as provide guidance on reasonable versus unreasonable damages when a legitimate breach has occurred.

Real Estate Expert Witnesses and Homeowners’ Association Disputes

There are numerous real property issues involving HOAs that could potentially lead to  lawsuits, such as property management, maintenance, use of common areas and facilities, buying and selling, renters, construction, inspections, and so on. Once again, a real estate expert with a background in property management can play an integral role in resolving an HOA dispute before it becomes a lawsuit.

Real Estate Expert Witnesses and Broker/Agent Disputes

Real Estate Expert Witnesses and Broker/Agent Disputes Failure to disclose defects that could impact a buyer’s decision to purchase property is one of the more common disputes between buyers and sellers of real property; and therefore, brokers and agents. Disputes over compensation between brokers and agents is another.

Edrington & Associates: When Attorneys Can Use Some Additional Bench Strength. 

At Edrington & Associates, we analyze and synthesize complicated issues involved in real property disputes in a way in which landlords, property managers, juries, judges (and attorneys) can relate. We serve as trusted consultants on a wide range of real estate topics while helping our clients evaluate different approaches and ultimately make the most informed decisions about how to proceed. Our expertise in landlord/tenant disputes, code enforcement, property management and real estate transactions is a result of decades of hands-on experience as landlords, property managers, real estate brokers and building inspectors. Edrington & Associates: When Attorneys Can Use Some Additional Bench Strength Edrington & Associates’ President, Steve Edrington, holds the following certifications and licenses:

  • Certified Forensic Litigation Consultant (CFLC)
  • Certified Commercial Investment Member (CCIM)
  • Certified Property Manager (CPM)
  • Certified California Resident Manager (CCRM)
  • Licensed Real Estate Broker
  • International Code Council (ICC) California Residential Building Inspector
  • Adapt Dwellings, Incorporated, our architectural design firm specializing in legalizations, accessory dwelling units, and multi-family properties, holds a Class B General Contractor License (#1098831).

Edrington’s case history includes work on both defendant and plaintiff sides in deposition, trial, mediation and as a court-appointed referee. He is frequently retained as an Expert Witness by law firms and major insurance companies throughout the US and is widely recognized as one of the preeminent experts in his field.  He regularly speaks at the Bar Association of San Francisco and the Alameda County Bar Association on landlord/tenant matters. Philip Barthman joined Edrington & Associates after 20+ years as a Building Inspector for Alameda County and 35+ years as an electrician. He brings extensive experience in inspection of residential, commercial, and industrial projects to ensure compliance with applicable codes, ordinances, and specifications. He specializes in evaluating illegal units, unsafe dwellings, and habitability complaints. He holds ICC Certifications as a Combination Inspector, Commercial Combination Inspector, Building Inspector, Electrical Inspector, Plumbing Inspector, and Mechanical Inspector. Philip is also a former professor at Oakland’s Laney College where he taught courses including National Electric Code, residential wiring, and commercial wiring. Based in Oakland, Edrington & Associates are real property experts offering real Bay Area solutions. We’re here to solve challengings for attorneys, property owners, developers, and buyers/sellers of real estate. When you need a professional interpretation of the issues in your case, look no further than Edrington & Associates to serve your needs. Contact us today to discuss your case in detail.

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