Sharon applied to law school in 1983 when the signs of an impending real estate crash began manifesting. The “Danny Faulkner I-30 Condo Scandal” was being serialized in the Dallas Morning News.
As an older-than-average student, Sharon entered The University of Texas School of Law in 1984 to become a real estate lawyer focusing on common interest developments. Sharon’s well-meaning professors discouraged her because “community association law” wasn’t a widely recognized practice area in 1984. Sharon knew better and, eventually, so did the professors.
Surely the real estate crash would be over by the time Sharon graduated. Wrong! In the late 1980s, real estate developers were extinct in Texas and real estate lawyers had switched to bankruptcy work. Sharon’s dream of representing developers would have to wait. However, she could still pursue her passion for common interest developments by representing HOAs – a recession-proof practice. So, she hung out her shingle and built a law practice advising 200 established HOAs that included subdivisions, patio homes, townhomes, garden–style condos, and high–rises.
Those years of representing owner–controlled HOAs turned out to be a blessing. There is no better preparation for drafting new HOA documents than interpreting and enforcing a broad spectrum of HOA documents for owner–controlled HOAs. That practice also gave Sharon insight into the political and management aspects of day–to–day HOA operations.
As the real estate market improved in the mid-1990s, Sharon began representing developers of subdivisions and condominiums. By 2002 she had retired all of her owner-controlled HOA clients in order to work exclusively with developers. She was living her dream!
Sharon’s dedication to the development side of the shelter industry was tested during the four-year global recession and real estate crash that began in 2008. Instead of re-tooling to represent owner-controlled HOAs, Sharon chose to tough-out what became a four-year drought in real estate development in order to remain a “developers attorney.” Sharon took advantage of the downturn by moving towards a paperless cloud-based practice in preparation for the recovery that arrived (thankfully!) in 2012.
When Sharon bought her first condo in 1977, she recognized that condominium ownership was new and not well understood. She decided to make that her specialty and set about learning all that she could. Sharon began her avocation as an educator in 1979, while working in real estate brokerage, by creating a 15 hour course for real estate professionals at SMU’s Costa Institute of Real Estate Finance. “Mastering the Condominium and Townhome Market” was offered annually for several years.
As a real estate broker, Sharon authored a weekly advice column in the Dallas Times Herald, then the second major daily newspaper in Dallas. The column was first titled “Condo Q&A,” and then “Candid Condo” – a testament to the condo conversion era in Dallas when condo HOAs outnumbered subdivision HOAs. Sharon continued her byline column into her first year of law school.
Since becoming a lawyer, Sharon has maintained a passion for educating professionals about HOAs – never for money, always for love. Sometimes Sharon is at the podium making a presentation. Other times she works behind the scenes urging program planners to include more content and speakers on topics related to common interest developments and property owners associations. Her first presentation to lawyers was at a 1994 CLE course sponsored by the State Bar’s professional development program, now called TexasBarCLE, which remains Sharon’s venue of choice. As with most lawyers who contribute to continuing legal education, it’s Sharon’s give back to her chosen profession.
Sharon has been involved with legislation pertaining to common interest communities since 1981 – always in a volunteer capacity. In 1990 Sharon organized an ad hoc drafting committee of Texas HOA lawyers who worked on reviving the decade old proposed Texas Uniform Condominium Act (TUCA). She had the privilege of serving as TUCA’s spokesperson in the 1991 and 1993 Legislative Sessions. TUCA was enacted in 1993 as Chapter 82 of the Texas Property Code.
In the early 2000s Sharon tried to interest folks in a similar comprehensive balanced Uniform Act for subdivisions ~ the Texas Uniform Planned Community Act. Lacking support, the proposal never got further than an interim Senate Committee hearing.
Sharon’s interest in Uniform Acts continued into the mid 2000s. As an unsponsored observer, Sharon participated with the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws in updating portions of the Uniform Common Interest Ownership Act. What a wonderful way to end 25 years of working on Uniform Acts.
Since 2005, Sharon has blogged about POA Bills going through the Texas Legislature, which convenes for 5 months in odd numbered years. In 2009, 2011, 2013, and 2015, Sharon used State Bar webcasts to provide Texas lawyers with post-Session reports of enacted changes to the HOA laws of Texas.
Sharon’s only compensated experience in the State Capitol is unrelated to HOAs. During her last semester of law school, Sharon “worked the Session” as legislative aide to Representative Gwyn Clarkston Shea of Irving. It was the best of times!
Other Real Estate Experience
Sharon’s mid-life career change to real estate law was facilitated by years of practical experience with residential real estate in Dallas, including development, construction, leasing, and brokerage. In the early years, she worked in her father’s custom homebuilding business, in the construction trades, and as an apartment locator. In the late 1970s and early ’80s Sharon became a condominium and townhome specialist as a Dallas real estate broker. In that era Sharon was bit by the HOA legislation bug which she treated by becoming active on committees of the Dallas Board of Realtors and the Texas Association of Realtors. Because there was no forum in North Texas for people interested in issues facing common interest developments, in 1981 Sharon helped launch the Dallas/Ft. Worth Chapter of the Community Associations Institute, a national association of people who work with HOAs.
Sharon has three orange and white degrees from The University of Texas, including her 1987 Doctor of Jurisprudence (aka “law degree”). Practicing what she preaches, Sharon has lived (as an owner) in condominium and townhome developments for decades. Extracurricular activities include yoga classes, meditation retreats, home improvement projects, and helping her worlds best mother. Barring the unforeseen, Sharon expects to retire to the Davis Mountains in 2030. Sharon wears her heart on her car, which sports a “TEXUS” vanity plate printed on a Big Bend National Park specialty plate.