William DeBear

Published on: June 17, 2013


Areas of focus: Real Estate and Condominium Law, Development and Land Use, Litigation and Telecommunications

Bill is a partner in our Real Estate, Condominium, and Litigation groups.  In his diverse practice, Bill represents condominium associations, developers, lenders, and buyers and sellers of real estate, handling matters that include condominium and general real estate litigation, affordable housing development, zoning, residential and commercial purchase and sale transactions, real estate finance, and telecommunications transactions.  Bill also serves as coordinator for the firm’s Real Estate group, including the maintenance of the firm’s real estate data base. An experienced real estate transaction attorney, Bill is an authorized agent for several national title insurance companies, including:  Fidelity, CATIC, and First American.

Bill also has extensive experience in the affordable housing area, representing clients in all phases of the development process, from creating development entities to obtaining required approvals from state and local permitting authorities and negotiating construction financing.

In his condominium practice, Bill drafts and secures the approval of amended and restated condominium documents and represents condominium associations in the revival, extension and conveyance of development rights — a highly specialized area that melds his expertise in condominium law and real estate development.  Bill also advises condominium association clients on the entire range of condominium governance issues and represents them in, among other matters:  the enforcement and extension of restrictive covenants; the resolution of construction defect litigation and disputes with abutting property owners; and the negotiation of telecommunications leases and licenses.

In addition to handling residential and commercial real estate transactions, Bill represents clients in a variety of litigation matters, and often is called upon to prepare settlement agreements and real estate instruments for the implementation of settlement in complex real estate and condominium litigation. Bill appears regularly in the Massachusetts Superior and Land Courts and has argued cases before the state Appeals Court and the Supreme Judicial Court.

In addition to being an active member of both CAI-New England and the Massachusetts Real Estate Bar Association, Bill serves on the board of directors of a non-profit corporation that promotes affordable housing opportunities in his home town.


  • Cornell University, with distinction in all subjects (1976)
  • Boston College Law School (1979)


  • Community  Associations Institute-New England
    • Chair, Attorney’s Committee (1997)
  • Massachusetts Bar Association
  • Massachusetts Real Estate Bar Association


  • Massachusetts
  • U.S. District Court (Massachusetts)
  • Federal Court of Claims


  • Elected to Phi Beta Kappa and Phi Kappa Phi at Cornell
  • Authored amicus briefs submitted on behalf of the Attorneys’ Committee of the New England chapter of the Community Associations Institute in, among others, the following decisions of importance to condominium and community associations in Massachusetts: Viola v. Millbank II Associates, 44 Mass.App.Ct. 82 (1998), involving condominium phasing); and Osorno v. Simone, 56 Mass.App.Ct. 612, 779 N.E.2d 645 (2002), dealing with strict liability.


Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education:

  • Co-author, Real Estate Title Practice in Massachusetts, Chapter 20 (Condominiums and Homeowners’ Associations, 2010)
    • Panelist, Real Estate Title Practice in Massachusetts (2005, 2006)
    • Panelist, Handling Residential Real Estate Transactions in Massachusetts (1999-2008)

Professional Education Services, Inc.:

  • Panelist, Nuts & Bolts of Residential Real Estate Transactions (1998)
  • Quoted in, “There’s Money for Community Associations — Up on the Roof” (CondoMedia, May, 2007).
  • Quoted in  “Ins and Outs and Do’s and Don’ts of Telecommunications Contracts” (CondoMedia, January, 2009).

Bill’s recent representative matters include:

  • Obtaining summary judgment and an award of attorneys’ fees under the Massachusetts “frivolous claims” statute in a Land Court proceeding involving a property ownership dispute.
  • Obtaining modification of a comprehensive permit from a local zoning board for a client seeking to add 100 rental units to an affordable housing development.
  • Handling all legal services for client in the development, finance, and sale of a 24-unit affordable housing development.
  • Negotiating and drafting agreements and instruments on behalf of a condominium association client for the creation, sale, and finance of development rights at a residential condominium.
  • Obtaining judgment in Superior Court for a condominium association, requiring contribution by an abutting property owner to the costs of maintaining and repairing a shared easement.

Bill’s published appellate decisions include: Entis v. Rent Control Board of Brookline, 399 Mass. 158 (1987)(upholding rent control decision in favor of client); Spinnaker Island and Yacht Club Holding Trust v. Bd. of Assessors of the Town of Hull, 49 Mass.App.Ct. 20 (2000), upholding appellate tax board decision abating attempted taxation of development rights held by condominium association; and Eisenberg v. Phoenix Association Management, Inc., 56 Mass.App.Ct. 910 (2002), upholding dismissal of Chapter 93A claim against property manager.

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