Tuesday, April 7, 2009


Sharon Barnes combines her expertise as an attorney and Real Estate broker to help investors and homeowners find solutions to today's complex Real Estate issues.

(COLTON, Calif.) Sharon Barnes, attorney and Real Estate broker, helps people find solutions in today’s complex Real Estate market.

“They’re in default and underwater, trying to understand their options they are faced with infomercials and new regulations,” Barnes explained. “Many homeowners and Real Estate investors are feeling overwhelmed. They just want a person with integrity to explain their options in way they can understand.”

What if someone owns multiple investment properties they’re having trouble renting to qualified tenants in this cold economy? Or something has come up that makes it necessary to sell the properties? Or what if they need to resize their business operations?

Barnes also helps homeowners and investors understand the impact of a short sale or foreclosure on their credit, and decide if selling at a loss is better than walking away

“I bridge the gap between legal services and Real Estate services,” Barnes said.

Barnes has worked as an attorney for 20 years and owns APEX Legal Corporation. She also obtained a Real Estate broker’s license three years ago, and works as an associate broker with the Colton office of MGR Services, Inc. This corporation assists its clients in both commercial and residential sales, as well as property management.

In both of her professions, she’s seen many situations where the services of both an attorney and a Real Estate broker are needed. Barnes provides both.

“In these situations, most Realtors will tell you, ‘We need an attorney,’ “ Barnes said. “I deliver that service as part of the Real Estate services I provide. Most of the time it is not necessary to incur the costs of an attorney outside the Real Estate transaction.”

She also helps busy professionals, such as doctors, attorneys and certified public accountants who wish to invest (or disinvest) in Real Estate. Barnes can handle the purchase and sale of these homes, help her clients obtain whatever insurance they will need on the property, and find tenants to live in and care for the property through MGR’s property management division.

One service, which she can offer through APEX Legal Corporation, is the creation of a living trust. Another strategy she can help investors work through is to create multiple limited liability corporation or LLC’s to protect their assets.

“Many investors utilize living trusts to manage millions of dollars in real estate assets without creating an LLC,” Barnes said. “Some types of Real Estate holdings are not conducive to an LLC and must be handled under a corporation or Real Estate Investment Trust. Investors who appreciate the various investment strategies are those to whom I can deliver the best service.”

Another benefit to living trusts is that unlike a will, a living trust allows a spouse or other designee to make decisions should someone become incapacitated.

“If you are married, or if you have children, you should have a living trust,” Barnes said. “This is especially true if you are self-employed.”

In California, Real Estate and businesses are considered community property, Barnes explained. This usually means one spouse can’t make a transaction affecting these without the consent of the other. A living trust gives the spouse, adult child or partner authority to make these decisions on the other’s behalf.

Barnes recalls one client, a middle-aged couple that did not have a living trust. The man, who was self-employed, had contracted bacterial meningitis and could no longer speak.

“His wife didn’t know what to do,” Barnes said. “She couldn’t get any money out of the business without his signature. She couldn’t get any money out of the equity in their house. A living trust would have allowed her to.”

Likewise, a living trust would have allowed an elderly woman whose husband had end-stage Parkinson’s’ disease, and who needed to sell property to pay for $200,000 in debt the couple had incurred. But, with her husband alive but too ill to sign papers, she could not do so.

“We had to file for a conservatorship, and an attorney was appointed by the court, supposedly to represent the husbands’ interests,” Barnes said. “He tried to prevent my client from getting some of the money she needed, in case he would need it to pay for care in a convalescent hospital. But he didn’t need convalescent care. She had been married to him for 47 years, and if he needed diapers, she would have put diapers on him. A living trust would have made that clear.”

Yet another of Barnes’ clients was a couple in their 80s, whose 56-year-old daughter had a medical condition that caused her to lapse into a coma. The parents weren’t able to prove they were responsible for their daughter, and were prevented from making decisions about her medical care.

“Living trusts also allow the transfer of a home to a child or children upon the parent’s death, “ Barnes said. “Without them, the transfer must be handled by probate, which can get expensive, especially if you have more than one child, or if survivors do not agree.”

Sharon Barnes is an experienced Real Estate attorney and certified commercial broker. Her expertise includes working with developers, contractors, investment groups, mortgage bankers and business owners. By combining legal and Real Estate expertise she provides valuable service to investors and property owners throughout the Inland Empire.