Barry L. Simons, Esq.
Real Estate Attorney
This month I am honored to feature Barry L. Simons, for this month’s SPOTLIGHT INTERVIEW. In the last fifteen years Barry has concentrated his practice in real estate and business related assistance to his clients. This includes drafting partnership agreements, corporate formation and purchase/sale agreements, contract preparation and negotiations, acting as a closing agent on behalf of lenders and buyers and representing seller’s of real property.
Q: Thanks for taking the time to sit with us, Barry. First off, please tell our readers about yourself. What sort of cases do you handle in your practice?
A: First off thanks to you as well for giving me this opportunity in this wonderful newsletter. My practice involves primarily real estate transactions and related real estate matters. We handle everything from the preparation and negotiation of real estate contracts and leases to the closing of real estate transactions. Our office provides title insurance to Purchasers and Lenders for transactions and we represent Buyers, Sellers and Lenders during their transactions. We handle everything from holding someone’s hand (sometimes literally) in a closing to being involved in larger commercial transactions wherein national tenants are involved.
Q: What got you interested in becoming an attorney and in particular a real estate attorney?
A: I snuck into a movie as a kid – “And Justice for All” – starring Al Pacino and was just blown away by that film (This probably shows about how old I am too). For some reason, I always thought I would go into criminal law but in real life there are always some plot twists. I became a solo practitioner early in my career primarily engaging in door law (whatever came through the door for work) and found myself for the most part practicing in the area of general litigation and collection work, both for Plaintiffs and Defendants. I opened up my own practice very shortly before Hurricane Andrew. Once things got back to normal after that storm there were a lot of real estate transactions going on and I got my first taste of handling some transactions on behalf of Sellers. Some time later in 1995 as I was getting frustrated with litigation a good friend of mine suggested looking into real estate as a practice option. I dove into that area, starting writing title insurance for transactions, promoting myself in this area and never looked back as it became the primary focus of my practice.
Q: Any good stories from your early career as a real estate attorney?
A: A few but one sticks out – it was also my first real estate transaction where my office was in charge of everything so to speak because we were the closing agent. There was a Lender involved and we were responsible for coordinating everything. At the closing the Buyers signed numerous paperwork provided by the Bank in order to borrow money from the Bank. One of those papers is the promissory note which states that the Buyer promises to pay back the money they are borrowing from the Bank. Just the Buyer is to sign this document. I got the promissory note confused with the Mortgage which requires witnesses and signed the promissory note too. I basically became obligated to pay back the money to the Bank along with the Buyer (not really but don’t ever sign promissory notes if you are not supposed to).
Q: What do you find that you like about being a real estate attorney?
A: For the most part, everyone is working towards the same goal, to have a closing. A Seller is motivated to sell their property and receive money to do so. A Buyer has decided that they want the property that is being offered by the Seller and wants to purchase it for personal or business reasons. It is also good to be involved with other attorneys who practice in this field since we know what needs to be done to get a deal closed and generally look out for one another during the course of a transaction. Once a closing occurs generally everyone is happy, both the Buyer and Seller have each achieved what they wanted to accomplish.
Q: Are there some other areas of the law you practice in besides being a real estate attorney?
A: I have appeared in front of the Florida Real Estate Commission on behalf of real estate agents who have been accused of wrongdoing by the State of Florida. I also handle Municipal Code Enforcement Board hearings on behalf of clients whose properties have been cited for violations by a governmental entity. Through the years I have provided general counsel and litigation support representation to Condominium and Homeowner Associations concentrated towards delinquent accounts. I also file and argue real estate tax appeals in front of the Value Adjustment Board for real estate taxpayers who feel they are being over assessed for their property taxes.
Q: How important and prevalent are foreign investments in real estate transactions here in South Florida?
A: Very important – foreign money has consistently helped South Florida outpace most of the rest of the nation in the number of sales and dollar amount of transactions and helped South Florida recover from economic downturns faster than the rest of the country. This area would not be the same and worse off without the interest of foreigners in wanting to live here and their interest in investing in real estate here in South Florida.
Q: Have you ever seen a situation wherein someone’s immigration status has become an issue in a real estate matter?
A: I’ve been involved in a lot of landlord tenant leases and eviction cases over the years. Sometimes in these disputes I’ve had clients whose immigration status may not be clear receive threats from the other side that they are going to be “reported or have the cops called on them.” Basically, this amounts to bullying in a different manner but really the same. The people making these threats are basically bullies because they have no legal grounds to stand upon and resort to these threats to gain an upper hand. I tell my clients that as long as they have engaged in this business relationship in a legal and honest manner that they should not be concerned. If we ever end up in Court the Judge will be more interested in what the other side did wrong in the relationship than their immigration status.
Q: I don’t have a green card, but I work and pay taxes. Can I purchase a home in the United States?
A: Anyone who has the funds may buy real estate in the United States and this includes undocumented immigrants, visitors and/or temporary workers. Even individuals who have never been to the United States. Most people can’t afford to pay for a real estate transaction all in cash so they need go to a Bank for a loan or mortgage. For undocumented immigrants for instance, getting a mortgage can be very difficult.
Q: How can our subscribers reach you for a consultation and/or representation?
A: I can be reached at (305) 670-7020 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. If needed, my assistant speaks Spanish fluently. All the best!