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When Bad Things Happen to Your Real Estate

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Seattle, WAThe mere mention of Dr. John Kilpatrick's name can settle litigation. Kilpatrick holds a Ph.D. in Real Estate Finance from the University of South Carolina and is arguably the country's leading expert in the area of real estate valuation. He has testified at trial on behalf of plaintiffs or provided expertise to legal firms across the US in dozens and dozens of litigation proceedings that involve damage to property.

Kilpatrick and his Washington state-based firm, Greenfield Advisors, have worked on property damage disputes connected to everything from the Exxon Valdez to property damaged by Katrina to the BP Oil spill to real estate lawsuits concerning Chinese drywall.

What's the Damage?

While attorneys are skilled at understanding liability in these kinds of cases, Kilpatrick's specialty is putting a number on the value of the loss. "Our very job is to work with attorneys to understand what the economic issues are, " says Kilpatrick.

Calculating the damage in a real estate lawsuit may include loss of rental value, remediation costs, loss of enjoyment of property or complex business loss problems. Kilpatrick and Greenfield Advisors are critical to bringing litigation to a close, and 90 percent of their work is on behalf of plaintiffs.

"Many times do we testify at trials," says Kilpatrick. "But I am pleased to say that out of every 100 cases that come in our door, we end up testifying in fewer than 10 of them." Typically, Kilpatrick's research, statistical analysis and document research result in a mediation agreement or settlement rather than a trial.

"We prepare documents as if we were going to trial in most cases, and I often end up being deposed. Then in between the discovery process and trial, some kind of settlement will erupt," says Kilpatrick. "But if it doesn't work that way, I have never been excluded as an expert witness. "

Recently Greenfield Advisors has been heavily involved in one of the great construction defect disputes in American history—Chinese drywall. "We have inspected a lot of Chinese drywall homes," says Kilpatrick. "The way this has gone homeowners will get restorative damages, but not post-remediation value."

That means that the house will be repaired, but that home that cost $100,000 to build and needed $75,000 to repair will not receive compensation for its damaged reputation. "At the end of the day when they hand you back the key are you going to be able to sell that house for $100,000? Probably not," says Kilpatrick.

John Kilpatrick is the CEO of Greenfield Advisors, a 34-year-old real estate advisory firm headquartered in Seattle, Washington. He is the author of four books and a contributing author of three others. He has also written more than 100 articles for journals and publications. Kilpatrick is also a member of the American Real Estate Society, the Membership Chair of the Real Estate Counseling Group of America, and is on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Sustainable Real Estate. He is also a pilot and skilled yachtsman.


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