Mark Twain was right – no one is making any new land.  He probably had no idea there would be a shortage of developable land around the historically rural Lancaster County.  Two recent programs of the Lancaster County Commercial and Industrial Real Estate Council (Lancaster C&I) highlighted this problem and showed one possible solution to the shortage of available developable land: changing how you use the land you already have.

Continue Reading Leveraging Our Land: Promote Innovation, not Acquisition Says Lancaster C&I

With the headlines coming out of the United States Supreme Court, I thought this would be a good time to write about the different courts that make up the American judicial system and how they work together. Let this be the start of a new blog series I’m calling Capturing the Courts, where I will discuss the different levels of state and federal courts and how cases work through each of the various court systems.

For this post, I will delve into the US Supreme Court (“the Court”) but will follow this up with a general overview of how the state and federal courts work together before digging into each specifically.

What is the US Supreme Court?

The United States Supreme Court was established by Article III of the United States Constitution to act as the highest court in the United States.
Continue Reading Capturing the Courts: The US Supreme Court

What do cupcakes, a truck of rare Chinese pottery, and litigator Brandon Harter have in common? And how can they help your small business? Continue reading for the answer.

On Thursday, April 21, RKG Law’s Brandon Harter was honored at SCORE Lancaster-Lebanon’s Small Business Awards Luncheon as the 2022 Community Partner. Cathy Bonser, chapter president, recognized Brandon’s longstanding contribution as a SCORE Simple Steps presenter for almost ten years. She commended his ability to connect with small business owners and simplify entity formation considerations.

During the Simple Steps presentations, Brandon explains the importance of choosing and setting up the proper business entity. Many entrepreneurs focus only on the logistics of their business, but Brandon’s guidance helps them minimize risk and save time and money down the road.
Continue Reading Brandon Harter Honored at SCORE’s 2022 Small Business Awards Luncheon

Several years ago, I wrote a blog article about the three estate planning documents every person should have.  Fast forward to today, and my recommendation has not changed.  Every person over the age of eighteen should have a Will, a Health Care Power of Attorney and Living Will, and a Financial Power of Attorney.

It is important to have all three documents because they each do different things and are effective at different times.  But how often do you really need to update them? And can’t the internet write most of these for you anyway? Let’s take a closer look.
Continue Reading Updating Your Estate Planning Documents for a Digital World

This post was originally published on February 24, 2021 and updated on March 24, 2022.

RKG’s team is committed not just to helping our clients but to supporting the health of the entire legal community. The Lancaster Bar Association (LBA) has adapted well during the pandemic and has continued to find ways to help not only lawyers but the community as well.

Its referral programs for clients and its partnership with the Lancaster Chamber of Commerce to pair lawyers with businesses feeling the pandemic crunch have both been very successful. We are proud to help support the organization with our time and efforts.

We thank these folks for stepping up to the plate through the LBA for 2022:

Continue Reading A Thank You to RKG’s Volunteers with the Lancaster Bar Association (LBA)

Every year, the Lancaster Commercial and Industrial Real Estate Council hosts High Real Estate‘s review of the local commercial and industrial real estate market. High always presents an extensive, well-researched and thought-out presentation. In addition to just showing charts and graphs, the speakers from High really understand the Central Pennsylvania market and are willing to share their thoughts on what the numbers mean.

When I go to this presentation each year, I ask myself, “What would I tell a client who was not here to watch the presentation?”  This year, the ideas that stuck with me are:

1. If I could invest in any real estate, I’d want to own existing apartments or warehouses in places like Lancaster County.

One of the speakers mentioned that pre-COVID, the average daily work commute was around 30 minutes.  Today, it is an hour.  He explained that as more people are spending fewer days in the office and working more from home, some people do not mind making a longer commute a few days a week.
Continue Reading New Trends in Lancaster’s Commercial and Industrial Real Estate

It has been about half a year since the terrible collapse of Champlain Tower South in Surfside, Florida.  Because of this tragedy, condominium and homeowners’ association boards and owners have been concerned about the structural safety of their buildings. And now Associations are facing hard questions from mortgage companies concerning both maintenance and capital reserve balances.

Role of Fannie and Freddie in Mortgage Lending

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are two governmental entities that guarantee mortgage loans for residential properties, like condominiums and homeowners’ associations.  They put out guidelines – requirements for association budgets, documents and practices – that a community needs to meet for Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae to back a mortgage.
Continue Reading Surfside Towers Collapse Causes Tighter Maintenance and Capital Reserve Requirements for Associations

Makayla Gilchrist is a native of Lancaster and a graduate of Conestoga Valley High School. Makayla earned her Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania and her Juris Doctor from Widener University Commonwealth Law School.

During law school, Makayla worked as a legal intern for a solo practitioner, where she drafted estate planning documents. She gained additional experience as a certified legal intern at a law clinic where she managed clients’ cases in the areas of unemployment law, family law, consumer law, and estate planning. As an intern for a private law firm in York County, she drafted pleadings and conducted legal research for cases in the areas of workers’ compensation and motor vehicle accidents.

Makayla joined Russell, Krafft & Gruber in 2022, and is enthusiastic about making a positive impact and representing clients in the community that she has always called home. Prior to joining Russell, Krafft, & Gruber, Makayla worked in private practice with another firm and practiced in several different areas, including criminal defense. She will continue to advise clients in the areas of family law, estate planning, and landlord/tenant matters. Makayla understands the importance of delivering exceptional legal services in a manner that is personalized for each client’s circumstance and tailors her approach to address their individual needs.

Makayla is a member of the Lancaster and Pennsylvania Bar Associations. In her free time, Makayla enjoys kayaking, hiking, traveling, and spending time with friends and family.

At the November meeting of the Lancaster Commercial and Industrial Real Estate Council, Rich Weeber of Regal Abstract warned of the problems that the “Foreign Investment in Real Property Tax Act” or FIRPTA could cause in real estate transactions. In a room full of real estate professionals, we discovered that some people had no idea what FIRPTA was, and the rest of us only worked through it when we had to. It didn’t seem like anyone felt 100% comfortable with what to do if it came up.

This post will explain what FIRPTA is, what to do if it applies in a real estate transaction, and the dangers of not paying attention to it.

What is FIRPTA?

Congress enacted FIRPTA in 1980 to manage foreign investment in U. S. real estate. (I remembered it as a reaction to Japanese investors buying American property, such as Pebble Beach Golf Course, Rockefeller Center and lots of other Manhattan properties in the 1980’s, but it turns out the law was passed before those things happened.) The goal of FIRPTA is to capture income when a “Foreign Person” sells “U. S. Real Estate.”
Continue Reading What is FIRPTA, and What Do I Need to Know About It?

This post was originally published on December 3, 2020 and updated on December 6, 2021.

This time of the year, our thoughts turn to family and friends.  Maybe we reflect on the past year or look forward to the next.  For association boards and property managers, these happy thoughts are interrupted by questions about snow removal. When do we call snowplows? What kinds of deicers should we use? And does our association have any liability for slips and falls?
Continue Reading HOA Snow Removal: Your Questions Answered