Real Estate and Land Use


Dickinson Bradshaw's Des Moines, Iowa-based real estate and land use attorneys provide legal advice and negotiate, prepare, and litigate real estate matters. Our team has extensive experience in land use law, bringing a vast array of resources to bear on clients' real estate and land use needs. The firm handles matters ranging from transactions such as commercial asset disposition and property acquisitions to tax deferred exchanges.

Our clients include commercial and residential real estate developers, banks, insurance companies, mortgage companies, title companies, individual and commercial borrowers, landlords and tenants. In addition, we have negotiated and consummated commercial property leasing on behalf of lessors and lessees, including medical professionals, restaurants, entertainment establishments, consultant firms, and other commercial/office businesses.

Specific areas in which our real estate and land use attorneys assist clients include:

  • Abstract examinations, title opinions, title guaranty policies and assistance in acquiring title insurance with appropriate endorsements
  • Title company complications and titles issues
  • Commercial property acquisition and disposition
  • Commercial leasing
  • Sale/leasebacks
  • Land development and land use issues, including environmental due diligence at various phases
  • Real estate based financing and documentation
  • Construction contracts and related issues
  • Commercial and residential closings
  • Landlord and tenant rights
  • Assessment/valuation appeals
  • Real estate broker and real estate agent insurance defense litigation
  • Render tax advice in all real property transactions
  • Income producing property issues
  • Management agreements and related issues
  • Workout agreements, including bankruptcy, foreclosures and creditor rights
  • Tax credits and subsidized housing programs
  • Intercreditor agreements, loan participation and subordination
  • Defeasance transactions
  • Tax deferred exchanges
  • Tenant-in-common agreements
  • Partnership, joint venture and limited liability company structuring and negotiations
  • Real Estate Syndication;
  • Zoning, use variances, subdivision planning
  • Chapter 558A claims concerning disclosure of defects in sale & leasing transactions
  • Restrictive covenants enforcement
  • Defense and prosecution of defective construction and warranty claims
  • Breach of contract claims involving both sellers and purchasers
  • Specific performance of real estate purchase agreements
  • Homeowner association representation, both transactional and litigation

In addition to legal real estate and land use services, the firm's attorneys provide clients many other property law legal services relating to all types of real estate, including shopping malls, strip centers, free standing buildings, office buildings, and land zoned for commercial, industrial and agricultural purposes.

Representative Real Estate Matters

  • Often provide legal defense services for real estate brokers and agents in courts and in regulatory compliance hearings, and for home builders regarding alleged defective construction and warranty claims. Also frequently provide legal defense services in lawsuits involving specific performance of purchase agreements. 
  • Regularly handle significant real estate property tax assessment cases involving large commercial developments such as shopping malls and retirement centers. 
  • Regularly handle real estate acquisitions that involve sophisticated issues including loan defeasance, Freddie Mac financing, and Iowa Finance Authority Financing.
  • Regularly assist in obtaining mechanic’s liens and in foreclosing mechanic’s liens for contractors and subcontractors.
  • Assisted in sale of 120-site mobile home park.
  • Assisted in foreclosure of mortgage on partially-completed townhome development project; negotiated agreement for completion of project with local developer.
  • Acted as local counsel for an international financial services provider in connection with the refinancing of a loan for approximately $273 million that was secured, in part, by real estate located in Iowa.
  • Acted as local counsel for an international financial services company on real estate issues in connection with the refinancing of the indebtedness of an Iowa ethanol plant emerging from Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
  • Defended tenant-in-common (“TIC”) defendants in two real estate foreclosure actions against hotel properties.
  • Regularly represent Fannie Mae in large, multi-family dwelling foreclosures.
  • Represented manufacturer in dispute with local municipality regarding the method of assessment used by the municipality to assess improvements to an arterial road adjacent to client’s property.
  • Represented a local bank in a commercial foreclosure matter making novel arguments under the Iowa Code. 
  • Representing retail grocery store chain in the sale leaseback of five separate supermarket facilities. 
  • Represented lender in connection with $14.6 million revolving line of credit used to finance costs of bringing at least seven separate real estate developments to market.
  • Represented client in sale of Iowa convenience store chain to large, existing convenience store company.
  • Represented lender in connection with negotiation and documentation of sale of a $30 million construction loan  for a downtown office building and a $2.776 million tenant improvement loan. 
  • Negotiated agreements for joint venture in acquiring 22 petroleum/convenience stores in Missouri and Arkansas.
  • Represented client in the acquisition, rezoning and redevelopment of a new convenience store site in West Des Moines, Iowa.

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Real Estate & Land Use

Will I be eligible for exemption from Iowa capital gains tax if I sell my real estate business? 

Iowa law provides, for residents who meet certain criteria relating to involvement in management and holding periods, an  exemption from Iowa capital gain taxes.

What are my options for avoiding gain recognition on the sale of my real estate?

In addition to the possibility of selecting the year in which gain is recognized as well as other options, the deferral of gain through a 1031 exchange can provide a planning option when certain requirements are met. 

Will my property taxes decrease if I successfully appeal my real estate assessment? 

Although an assessment may be lowered, the actual cash savings in the form of reduced property taxes will depend upon the final tax rate employed by the applicable taxing body.