Attorney sheds some light on local real estate market

Problems recur in housing downturns

By Jeanine Matlow
Legal News

The troubled real estate market has led to a number of trends. For one, says attorney David E. Nykanen, property tax appeals are being filed in record numbers in Michigan and throughout the U.S., both by high-end residential owners and industrial/commercial owners.

Nykanen, along with Michael Dorfman, recently formed Nykanen Dorfman, PLLC, a full-service law firm in Farmington Hills specializing in all aspects of real estate, litigation, property tax, and business issues.

“Every crash is different,” says Nykanen. “One common theme is we swear we never will make these mistakes again — and we will.”

“The real problem in Southeast Michigan will continue longer than people think,” he says. “We have a structural oversupply of industrial property due to the automotive industry cutting all the different makes that required different parts. Those jobs and those businesses are gone. Prices of those properties will stay depressed until we figure out how to reuse them.”

There’s no doubt these times are tough, according to Nykanen.

“When you are a lawyer in times like this, it can be kind of a depressing practice when you’re trying to help your clients dance to avoid the bullets. You’re helping them tread water until the times change,” says Nykanen. “But helping people achieve their dreams and solve problems is rewarding.”

Nykanen, who lives in Farmington Hills with his wife and their two children, graduated from Wayne State University Law School.

“When I was a senior in college and my choices with my poli sci degree were to get a Ph.D. or go into law, I looked at both to see which fit my personality better,” he says. “It was pure coincidence and good luck that I turned out to really like what I do.”

As an attorney, Nykanen sees the value of social media.

“It allows me to reach an audience I couldn’t reach otherwise. If you approach it in a passive, professional manner, it helps you to build credibility in your practice area,” he says.

The most painless method of entry, he says, is LinkedIn.

“When someone asks to connect with you, you can see what they have to say and see if it is a legitimate person before you agree. That’s how you build a network,” he explains.

When he’s not working, Nykanen enjoys some downtime.

“As part of the ‘Dave Nykanen 2012 Mid-Life Crisis,’ I recently bought an electric guitar, and have started taking lessons. Next up: A red convertible,” he quips.

Nykanen is the president of FFYS Boosters, Inc., a Michigan nonprofit corporation that supports the FFYS (Farmington Family YMCA Stingrays) competitive swim team. The team finished fourth in the YMCA Zone Competition this spring, which is a competition between all Y swim teams in the Midwest.

“We also sent about a dozen swimmers to Y Nationals in Greensboro, North Carolina, with several of our swimmers reaching the semi-finals and finals,” Nykanen says. “At the end of the day, it’s the sport my daughter fell in love with and she’s a very good swimmer. It’s important to us that we give back to the team and competitive swimmers in Farmington Hills so that opportunities are available to everyone.

“We wanted to create an environment where kids have all of the resources available to them whether they want to swim at a very high level or just go to swim practice and practice. It teaches kids how to manage their time.”

Sarah Gidley, an attorney with Couzens, Lansky in Farmington Hills, founded the non-profit with her friend Nykanen last year. As she explains, the two lost touch after law school, but reconnected through their children’s swim teams.

“He is extremely funny, very decisive, instrumental in making decisions for the group and good at keeping everyone in the loop,” says Gidley. “He is very savvy and grasps nuances right away. I often think he’s several steps ahead of the rest of us.”

Lastly, she adds, “He is a very good leader, a great attorney, and a good friend to those who know him. I feel lucky that our organization has him leading us.”