Caufield & James, L.L.P Caufield & James, L.L.P

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Selling A Contaminated Property In California

With the current commercial property pricing, many individuals are looking the sell commercial properties. As part of many commercial real estate transactions the buyer will demand a "Phase I" be conducted on the property. A "Phase I" is generally a historical look at the property uses to determine if the property and/or surrounding property uses may have created the potential for the property to be contaminated. Frequently, we receive calls from individuals looking to buy and/or sell property that "discovered" from a "Phase I" on the property that the property use to have a gas station and/or other activity that the was identified as potentially causing contamination. This discovery can create issues with bank loans, delay of sale, and also questions about who should pay for testing to be conducted and bear liability for the cleanup of the contamination. Complicating matters is the fact that environmental consulting firms can sometimes recommend a widely varying approach to the problem and the cost differences between environmental consulting firms quotes can be very significant. Putting into layman's terms the environmental consultant "techno" speak can be equally daunting for the average property owner when faced with a myriad of acronyms, laws and complex advice. In sum, the situation can be extremely confusing, stressful and create a great deal of concern for a seller now faced with a potential liability on their property and in many instances insufficient funding to pay to resolve the problem. Finally, contractually dealing with these issues as part of the sales transaction does not easily lend itself to standard boilerplate contract language.

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