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The Commercial Property Acquisition Timeline

Acquiring and developing commercial property is a multi-step process that extends beyond simply identifying a property and negotiating a purchase price. In a commercial real estate transaction, investors and developers must also conduct extensive amounts of due diligence related to the property’s physical attributes and economic status prior to the final closing of the sale. During this time a commercial real estate attorney can help guide you through the initial negotiations all the way until closing administration. Having a real estate attorney by your side can ensure a smooth process with Ohio real estate law, and no unintended legal consequences.

At Neiman Law, we understand the stakes in real estate acquisitions and development. We will work with you personally to ensure your goals are met, just like we’ve worked with numerous Columbus companies and investors before.

Letters Of Intent

Letters of intent are typically the first step in a commercial transaction where a real estate lawyer will play a role. Letters of intent are designed to be non-binding agreements that detail the terms of a transaction and the commitment of the parties to move forward. Letters of intent typically include most, if not all, of the relevant terms to a transaction such as the purchase price, identity of the property, terms of the closing, any contingencies, and a timeline for the transaction. Letters of intent are signed by both the purchaser and seller, so it is important to make sure there is no enforceable agreement until and unless a formal purchase and sale agreement is executed by both the purchaser and the seller.

While letters of intent are non-binding, the parties may consider including two provisions that can be contractually binding: confidentiality/non-disclosure and exclusivity. Both the purchaser and the seller may wish to keep the terms, and even the fact of their negotiations, confidential and they may accomplish this by including such a confidentiality clause within the letter of intent. Additionally, the purchaser may also wish to have a period of time in which the seller agrees to not actively market the property to third parties or in which not to enter into a purchase and sale agreement with a third party. In both instances, the language must be clear that these provisions, unlike the remainder of the letter, are binding and enforceable, and they must be supported by adequate consideration.

Following the execution of a letter of intent, the parties will quickly move towards the drafting of a purchase and sale agreement to be further negotiated by the parties.

Purchase And Sale Agreements

A real estate purchase and sale agreement is a contract between a buyer and seller of real property, in which the buyer proposes the terms and conditions for the proposed sale. A real estate purchase agreement details the frame of the rights, responsibilities, and obligations of each party before the legal transfer of title can occur. At a minimum, purchase and sale agreements should include the following information related to the transaction:

• A legal description of the property;
• The purchase price;
• Amount and timing of payment for earnest money deposits;
• Due diligence documents required to be provided;
• Due diligence review period;
• Casualty and condemnation clauses;
• Representation and warranties;
• Breaches and remedies;
• Applicable law; and
• The time and place of closing.

The parties will engage in negotiations until the real estate purchase and sale agreement is fully executed by both parties. Following full execution, the purchaser will begin its due diligence to confirm that the property is suitable for the purchaser to move forward with the sale.

Due Diligence Review

Purchase and sale agreements for commercial real estate commonly include a period for the purchaser to conduct its due diligence investigation of the property before the purchaser is obligated to purchase the property. All well-advised purchasers will conduct a certain level of due diligence before moving forward in a transaction. The nature and extent of the purchaser’s due diligence will vary depending on the size, type, and complexity of the property being acquired.

The purchaser’s inspection activity during the due diligence period is initiated with the seller’s delivery of the existing information regarding the property. This information could include existing title policies, surveys, environmental assessments, appraisals, leases, property financials, lists of personal property located on the property, and any contracts and warranties relating to the property. The purchase and sale agreement should specifically identify all existing due diligence items the purchaser requests and identify a timeline to produce such documents. A seller should limit its production to documents in its possession, and because this information may contain confidential information, the seller should also require that the purchase not disclose any such information.

Regardless of the type of property or complexity of the transaction, the purchaser’s due diligence investigation will typically include a physical and environmental inspection of the property; title and survey review; zoning review; review of any leases and other assignable agreements; and a review of the financial information relating to the property. Typically, if a purchaser decides prior to the expiration of the due diligence period that the purchaser is not satisfied with its due diligence review, then the purchaser can typically terminate the agreement and receive a return of the earnest money deposit.

Closing Administration

The final step in a real estate transaction is the closing of the transaction contemplated by the real estate purchase and sale agreement. Having an attorney assist at this stage is critical as the closing attorney will create lines of communication between both parties as well as the lenders, title company, brokers, and other third-party professionals related to the transaction. The real estate attorney must take the lead on the coordination of all of these parties to ensure that the closing of the transaction occurs smoothly and on time.

Leading up to the closing, the real estate attorney will assist with drafting certain documents necessary to complete the transaction as well as assist the purchaser in reviewing any loan documents. The attorney will also ensure that the title policy to be delivered by the title company is in a form acceptable to the purchaser as well as review the final settlement statement related to the transaction. The engagement of a real estate attorney is crucial to ensure that your real estate transaction occurs smoothly with no unforeseen legal consequences.

Understanding The Commercial Real Estate Acquisition Process

Now that you understand how the commercial real estate acquisition process can be so complex and challenging, it is easier to understand why you need a real estate attorney to guide you through the process. With an experienced real estate attorney by your side, you can be better positioned for a smooth transaction and avoid mistakes during the following stages of your real estate deal:

  • The first step in the acquisition process is research and due diligence. It involves identifying potential properties, conducting inspections and assessing the property’s value.
  • Once you have identified a property, a letter of intent is drafted. This document outlines the basic terms of the proposed transaction, such as the purchase price, closing date and any contingencies.
  • Afterward, a purchase and sale agreement is created. This is a legally binding contract that outlines the specific terms and conditions of the transaction.
  • After the purchase and sale agreement is signed, there is a due diligence period where you can conduct further inspections and assessments of the property.
  • The final step in the acquisition process is the closing. This is where the ownership of the property is transferred from the seller to the buyer.

A commercial real estate lawyer can help draft and review documents, such as purchase agreements, lease agreements and other contracts. This ensures that these documents accurately reflect the transaction terms and protect your interests.

An attorney can also help with conducting due diligence on the property. Due diligence involves reviewing title reports, zoning ordinances, environmental assessments and other legal matters that may impact the property. Additionally, an experienced attorney can react to any unexpected seller’s or buyer’s requirements and make sure that your interests are properly protected.

Above all, a commercial real estate lawyer helps ensure the transaction complies with all Columbus and Ohio laws and regulations. This includes local zoning ordinances, state and federal environmental regulations and other legal requirements that may apply to the property.

Talk To A Skilled Real Estate Attorney Today

Don’t let a missed detail or a legal question hold up your development or acquisition plans. For legal assistance with any residential or commercial real estate acquisition or development, contact Neiman Law, a commercial property law firm, today at 614-454-3579 or contact us online.

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