When you are buying land for development, you should seek the assistance of an experienced South Jordan Utah real estate lawyer. Whether you have a boundary dispute, need to quiet title, or resolve title issues to real estate, Ascent Law LLC can help you. We help both residential and commercial real estate owners in Utah.
Finding a suitable site involves establishing a set of criteria by which alternative locations can be identified and assessed. These would broadly relate to market, physical, legal and administrative conditions and constraints. Once a shortlist of say three or four options has been drawn up, a preliminary appraisal will be conducted in order to determine the most suitable choice. This is the proverbial “back of the envelope” analysis, which combines an objective assessment of likely cost against value with a more subjective judgement based upon experience and feel for the market. Ideally, of course, the right site looking for the right use meets the right use looking for the right site. But there is no magic formula.
Site appraisal and feasibility study
Undertake a more refined appraisal of the viability of the proposed project, taking into account market trends and physical constraints
Decide to what extent will further enquiries, searches, surveys and tests have to be conducted, by whom and at what cost, so that there is sufficient information available in order to analyze the financial feasibility of a development proposal. This will normally entail a more detailed assessment of market demand and supply; a close examination of the changing character of the sector; projections of rents, values and yields; and estimations of costs and time. An initial consideration of the structural engineering design foundations and subsoil will also be undertaken. Having assembled all the data, a check should be conducted to ensure that the basic concept achieves the optimum use of the site or buildings and maximizes the amount of letting or operation space.
Consult with the planning authority and other statutory agencies with regard to the proposed development
Apart from making sure that all the usual inquiries are made in respect of preparing and submitting applications for planning approval and building regulation consent, it is also essential for the developer to create a positive climate within which the development can progress. This means that the right people in all the various authorities and agencies concerned with accrediting the proposal must be carefully identified, and approaches to them properly planned and presented. It is vital for the developer to galvanize the professional team in such a way that everyone involved generates an enthusiasm for the scheme and conveys that interest to those responsible for assessing it. First impressions are always important, and simple precautions can be taken, such as consulting with all the contributors to the project to compile all the preliminary inquiries together, to avoid duplication and dispatching them to the authorities and agencies in sufficient time to allow proper consideration and formulation of response. Among the principal factors the developer will seek to establish are the prospects of being expected to provide elements of planning gain by way of legal agreements and the likelihood of obtaining a consent, the possibility of having to go to appeal, the chances of success, and the consequent probable timescales and costs resulting.
Identify the likely response from other interested parties to the proposed development
The developer needs to have heightened understanding of how a particular scheme of development will be received by those likely to be affected by it, or have a voice in how, and if, it proceeds. This implies a knowledge of the distribution consequences of development and a comprehension of, say, urban renewal policy. They must, therefore, be able to predict who will oppose, why, how they might organize their opposition, what influence they exert, and how best to negotiate with them and reduce potential conflict.
Establish the availability of finance and the terms on which it might be provided
Because the parameters set by a fund can influence and even determine the design and construction of a building, great care must be taken in selecting a suitable source of finance and in tailoring the terms to meet the aims of both parties to the agreement. This will involve an evaluation of alternative arrangements for financing the project in question, including an assessment of the financial, legal and managerial consequences of different ways of structuring the deal. In doing so, it will be necessary to determine very closely the absolute limits of financial maneuverability within the framework of the development plan and program, for, during the heat of negotiation, points may be conceded or matters overlooked, which could ultimately prejudice the success of the scheme. Different sources of finance will dictate different forms of control by the fund. The major financial institutions, for example, increasingly insist that some kind of development monitoring be undertaken by project management professionals on their behalf, whereas a construction firm might provide finance for development but demand more influence in the management of the building operation. The developer must be wary. Presentation of a case for funding is also a task deserving special attention, and any message should be designed to provoke a positive response. Sub-sequent to a loan being agreed in principle, it will be necessary for the developer, in conjunction with their experienced South Jordan Utah real estate lawyer and other relevant members of the professional team, to agree the various drawings and specification documents to be included in the finance agreement. These will normally comprise drawings showing floor layouts and cross sections of the entire project, together with drainage, site and floor-related levels, and outline heating and air conditioning proposals, as well as a performance specification clearly setting out the design, constructional and services standards to be met. The financial dimension to project management is critical, for a comparatively small change in the agreed take-out yield can completely outweigh a relatively large change in the building cost.
Detailed design and evaluation
Decide the appointment of the professional team and determine the basis of appointment. It is essential that the developer, or an appointed overall project manager, has a good grasp of building technology and construction methods, together with an appreciation of their effect upon the development process. To this must be added a perception of the decisions that have to be taken and an ability to devise appropriate management structures necessary to carry them out. In deciding such questions as whether to appoint a small or large firm, appoint on the basis of an individual or a firm, select professionals for the various disciplines from the same or from different firms, choose professionals who have worked together previously or who are new to each other, or opt for existing project teams or assemble one especially for the job in hand—the respective advantages and disadvantages must be explored and weighed most carefully. The chemistry is all important, but the opportunity to take such a deliberate approach towards the assembly and integration of the professional team is one of the great advantages of property project management. In this context, however, it is essential that the contractor is seen to be a central member of the team, playing a full part in the design process and not somehow placed in a competitive position. Increasingly, moreover, a choice has to be made between different methods of producing building services, such as package deal, design and build, selective competitive tender, two-stage tender, serial tender, negotiated tender, management fee contract or separate trades contract. However, a true project management approach might be said to be superior to all other methods. The members of the team, once appointed, will usually be required to enter into collateral warranties as to their professional obligations and be prepared to produce reasonable evidence of the adequacy of their professional indemnity insurance. It may also be that the fund as well as the developer will expect similar undertakings and will insist that the conditions of engagement reflect this part of the financial agreement. Prepare a brief that outlines the basic proposals for design, budgeting, taxation, planning, marketing and disposal and sets out all the management and technical functions, together with the various boundaries of responsibility.
There are many issues involved in buying a piece of land and developing it into a residential or commercial real estate project. This involves dealing with various authorities and also entering into contracts with professionals. An experienced South Jordan Utah real estate lawyer can assist you with the entire process.
Construction loans for real estate projects are secured by the future value of the completed property. Before a bank will make a loan, the developer must demonstrate this value by obtaining a specified number of purchase agreements or leases at or above projected prices to give the bank confidence that the project will sell out or lease up. The developer may turn to a bank with which she has a good relationship or she may shop around for the best loan terms.
As soon as the developer has settled on terms with a bank and closed on the loan, she will acquire or “take down” the land and break ground, with the goal of completing construction as quickly as possible. Throughout the construction stage, the developer will be involved in a million little decisions from materials selections to construction details to the review of monthly construction payment applications. Until the building is finished she will be constantly rebalancing the project’s design, materials, systems, and costs.
Closing dates with tenants or buyers will drive the schedule. For large projects the developer may complete and sell or lease up a part of the project while the rest of the building is still under construction. High-rise residential and office towers are often completed and occupied from the top down, while horizontal developments like townhomes and office parks lend themselves more easily to phasing that matches market demand and absorption. Whether the first condo unit or an entire building, the completion of construction signals the beginning of sales.
Once construction is complete and the building is ready for occupancy, the developer’s objective is to sell or lease it up for the highest prices possible as quickly as possible. The developer must repay the construction loan with proceeds from sales. The longer it takes to sell out or lease up, the higher the interest costs on that borrowed money—the carrying costs—and the lower the developer’s profit. During this stage the developer’s attention will be focused on ensuring that buyers or tenants who have signed purchase agreements or leases remain satisfied and show up to close on those contracts.
The developer’s involvement will not end until the building is completely sold out or, in the case of a rental property, leased up and then refinanced or sold. Some developers build to “hold” over a longer time frame and they will have ongoing responsibility for property ownership from maintenance to periodic capital improvements. When the developer does finally sell or “dispose of the asset,” whether it is as soon as it has been leased up to a “stabilized” level of occupancy (for example 90 percent) or decades later, she will return all funds to lenders and make distributions of equity and profits to investors.
It sometimes helps to view development this way—as a series of stages and as a list of tasks—but it can also be viewed as a process that is punctuated by a small number of important milestones. These include property acquisition, preliminary approvals, final approvals, achieving a predetermined percentage of presales or signing a lease with an anchor tenant, closing on financing, completion of construction, stabilized occupancy, and sale. Each of these is a required step on the way to a completed project and each requires the careful management of myriad tasks through multiple stages. While these lists of stages and tasks are easy enough to comprehend in the abstract, they are more fluid and messier in practice. Because no two development projects unfold in the same way, managing uncertainty and the “unknown unknowns” is just one more part of the business. Real estate development is a complex type of product development with high stakes. Minor mistakes or omissions in any of the stages, tasks, or milestones can derail or stop a project and cost the developer most if not all of his or her financial resources. And just one bad project can wipe a developer out.
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When you need legal help with a real estate matter, quiet title action, foreclosure or property dispute, please call Ascent Law for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you.
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States
Telephone: (801) 676-5506