A version of this article was published in published in ABA/RPTE eReport (December, 2012).
The Legal Opinions in Real Estate Transactions Committee of the ABA’s Section of Real Property, Trust and Estate Law along with the American College of Real Estate Lawyers (ACREL), Attorneys’ Opinions Committee, and the American College of Mortgage Attorneys (ACMA), Opinions Committee have completed and released the Real Estate Finance Opinion Report of 2012 (the "2012 Report"). This Report is being published in the Real Property, Trust and Estate Law Journal (Fall 2012 – Issue #2) at 47 REAL PROP. TR. & EST. J. 213 (2012It is also posted on the Committee’s website at under "Current Projects and Prior Publications."
The Report identifies and explains third-party opinion practice involving real estate secured transactions. The project started with the Inclusive Real Estate Secured Transaction Opinion (the "Inclusive Opinion"), which was published in 1998 as a joint project of the ABA RPTE Committee and ACREL. The Inclusive Opinion was a selfcontained opinion letter that was based on: (a) the ABA Legal Opinion Accord (the "Accord"), which was part of the Third-Party Legal Opinion Report, including the Legal Opinion Accord, of the Section of Business Law, American Bar Association, 47 BUS. LAW. 167 (1991) (reprinted in 29 REAL PROP. PROB. & TR. J. 487 (1994)), and (b) the Report on Adaptation of the Legal Opinion Accord of the Section of Business Law of the American Bar Association for Real Estate Secured Transactions of the Section of Real Property, Probate and Trust Law of the American Bar Association and the American College of Real Estate Lawyers, 29 REAL PROP. PROB. & TR. J. 569 (1994) (the "Adaptation").
The 2012 Report includes a form of opinion that reflects current national real estate financing practice and is not limited to the Accord and its progeny. The Report describes customary practice in the giving and receiving of opinion letters. With its illustrative opinion letter and the guide for practitioners, the 2012 Report can serve as an educational tool and a starting point for discussion and consideration by those who are involved in the opinion process.
Members of the drafting committee of the Report will present a program on the Report entitled "You Want WHAT Opinions from Us? A Look at the Real Estate Finance Opinion Report of 2012" on Thursday, May 2, 2013 at the RPTE Symposia in Washington, D.C.
The 2012 Report is written with the focus on the borrower’s only law firm or its lead law firm in a mortgage loan transaction, and not for local counsel. The next project of the Legal Opinions in Real Estate Transactions Committee will be about local counsel opinions.