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Read your contract carefully in commercial real estate deals

Commercial real estate transactions are often handled by real estate agents and brokers. However, in some cases it is helpful to involve an experienced real estate lawyer to provide you with added protection in case of any issues that arise before, during or after the purchase or lease. Commercial real estate disputes may involve issues like breach of contract, fraud, or failure to disclose conditions.

Sometimes it's possible to feel tricked after a person says one thing but the written contract says something else. A little contract negotiation could have gone a long way in the case of an 87-year-old woman, who claimed celebrity Donald Trump cheated her in a commercial real estate deal by using a bait-and-switch scheme. The woman sought damages totaling around $6 million, but the jury ultimately decided in Trump's favor.

The woman claimed that Trump wooed her into buying two $1 million condos at one of his properties in Chicago by promising her a share of the building profits, but he then reneged on that promise. However, the woman was a successful and educated investor who willingly signed a contract stipulating that Trump could cancel the profit-sharing plan at any time.

The woman advised others who might be inclined to invest in a Trump property to carefully read the documents they were going to sign. That's a good tip for anyone who invests in commercial real estate or even just signs a lease on some office space. No matter what anyone says verbally, always read the contract thoroughly, make sure to understand it, and seek out the advice of a real estate lawyer if there are any doubts.

Source: USA Today, "87-year-old woman loses to Trump in civil case," Michael Tarm, May 23, 2013

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