Real Property Section

Paul H. Melnick, chair

As of June 1, 2012 (the latest data available), the Real Property Section had 1,912 members.

The budget for fiscal year 2011-2012 was $37,780. At year’s end (June 30, 2012) there was a surplus of $4,388.25.

Section Governance Meetings
The officers, board of governors, and area representatives convened in person four times during fiscal year 2011-2012 to conduct business matters and address issues of concern to the section. Four group meetings were held as follows:

(1) Fall meeting on September 9, 2011, at the Virginia CLE office in Charlottesville;

(2) Winter meeting on January 20, 2012, at the Williamsburg Inn (Rockefeller Room) in Williamsburg (in conjunction with the VBA’s annual meeting);

(3) Spring meeting on March 2, 2012, at the Kingsmill Resort Conference Center in Williamsburg (in conjunction with the VA CLE 16th Annual Advanced Real Estate Seminar); and

(4) Summer meeting on June 15, 2012, at the Vistadelmar Room of the Holiday Inn Hotel and Suites in Virginia Beach, which was held in conjunction with the 72nd annual meeting of the Virginia State Bar.

In addition, two board of governors meetings were held by teleconference on November 29, 2011, and February 15, 2012, to discuss ongoing section business. A teleconference nominating committee meeting was also held on April 17, 2012, (pursuant to the section bylaws) for the purpose of developing a proposed slate of individuals for nomination as officers and board members for fiscal year 2012-2013. A teleconference meeting between available board of governors members and the co-editors of the section newsletter, The Fee Simple, took place on January 20, 2012, to discuss the hiring of a student editorial assistant to assist with the production of the newsletter.

Educational Initiatives
During the course of the year, the section actively participated in VA CLE seminar program events, including the 16th Annual Advanced Real Estate Seminar and the 30th Annual Real Estate Practice Seminar, and co-sponsored (with the Taxation Section) a CLE program entitled “Tax Traps for the Real Estate Practitioner,” which was a companion to the summer meeting.

Other educational initiatives included:

Publication of the November 2011 and May 2012 editions of The Fee Simple (Volumes XXXII, Number 1, and XXXIII, Number 2, respectively) in conjunction with the College of William and Mary School of Law; and

Continuing support of a project commenced by the section’s Eminent Domain Standing Subcommittee, to prepare and produce for VSB publication a pamphlet titled Understanding Condemnation – A Guide for Landowners, the purpose of which is to educate the general public about the condemnation process and related rights. This pamphlet has been approved by the Virginia State Bar’s publication department, but the Eminent Domain Committee is deferring its release until after the public vote this fall on the constitutional amendment so that any impacts of the vote can be addressed in the pamphlet.

Allowing a credit of $20 per person for section members to attend the annual and advanced seminars in person. The credit can be used for either seminar, but not both. This policy is to foster in-person attendance at the seminars.

Hiring a student editorial assistant to assist with the publication of the section newsletter, The Fee Simple, which is published in the fall and spring of each year. This was due to the reduced role of Chancellor Professor Lynda Butler in the production of the newsletter. Lynda Butler had been an editor or co-editor of the Fee Simple for 25 years.

Co-sponsoring the Courtland Traver Award which is presented annually to recognize outstanding contributions to continuing legal education.

Administrative Initiatives
The year brought some very important administrative initiatives. They included the following:

A survey was prepared and disseminated to our area representatives (section representatives throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia who connect with local real estate practitioners) which requested that they confirm whether they were interested in continuing in that position and which sought feedback about the area representative program and the section in general. The survey and responses enabled the section to update the roster of area representatives and include only those who were committed to serving the section in that capacity. The responses to the request for feedback were very informative and assisted the section in enhancing and improving its meetings and initiatives.

The board of governors and area representative handbook was updated in fall of 2011. This handbook sets forth the history of the section, its five-year strategic plan, as well as summaries of its policies and procedures. The section plans to update the handbook each year.

The section continued to work with representatives of the VSB to establish a “knowledge sharing” website to better facilitate the easy exchange of information and ideas among section members. On March 23, 2012, Paul H. Melnick (the section chair), Paul A. Bellegarde (who is leading the knowledge sharing website effort for the section), and his wife, Diane Bellegarde (who prepared and delivered the power point presentation) met with Rodney A. Coggin, the director of Public Affairs and Publications of the VSB, and other representatives of the VSB, to discuss this proposal. The proposal passed the bar Communications Committee and it was referred to the fiscal management apparatus of the VSB where it is currently being considered.

The section created the status of honorary area representative for past chairs of the section and recipients of the Courtland Traver Award. Those who qualify for this status are exempted from area representative meeting attendance and committee participation requirements (but it does not affect requirements of board members as set forth in the section bylaws).

The section created two new committees which are described below:

Law School Liaison Committee – This new substantive committee is chaired by Paul A. Bellegarde. Its purpose is to facilitate outreach to Virginia law schools and law students. During the last year, the committee organized panel discussions focusing on “Life as a Real Estate Lawyer” at the University of Virginia School of Law as well as the George Mason University School of Law. These panel discussions were very well received by the professors and students.

Common Interest Communities Committee – This new standing committee is chaired by David Helscher. Its activities are focused on homeowner’s associations and common interest communities.

Incident to the summer meeting, the following individuals were elected as officers for fiscal 2012-2013:

M. Philip Hart, chair
William L. Nusbaum, vice-chair
Charles Cooper Youell IV, secretary/treasurer
Paul H. Melnick will serve as immediate past chair

William L. Nusbaum and Charles Cooper Youell IV were elected to serve third terms on the board and Whitney Jackson Levin was elected to serve her first term on the board.

Updated: Aug 28, 2012