By Christina Kass

A successful commercial real estate transaction depends upon many factors, but perhaps the most important is the team of professionals you rely on to ensure your purchase or refinance goes smoothly. Among those professionals, an experienced real estate attorney is a key player in helping you avoid costly pitfalls involved with these highly complex transactions.

Commercial real estate attorneys bring to the table an invaluable set of skills, knowledge, and experience that can protect your interests and minimize risk. Just as a homebuyer depends on a REALTOR® to oversee the myriad of details involved in residential real estate, it’s wise for commercial buyers to hire an attorney who knows the ins and outs of mortgaging, buying, or leasing commercial real estate.

Your Attorney Can Save You More Than Time

When you’re focused on launching or expanding your business, familiarizing yourself with the particulars of business and real estate law, as well as financial and tax issues, can be an incredibly daunting task. That’s why securing the services of a reputable attorney can save you time and frustration. Without a full understanding of the legalities of buying commercial property, you may not know the right questions to ask during due diligence — which could cost you later.

Your attorney can improve your bottom line by poring over every detail of your commercial real estate contract, making sure you’re getting the most for your money. Along with boosting your negotiating power, he or she will make sure the contract is fair and shield you from potential issues that could occur if the deal falls through. Similarly, your attorney will help coordinate and review inspections in the case of hidden structural or environmental issues prior to closing.

For a commercial buyer, few things are worse than discovering the fantastic deal you received on your property comes with a lien of thousands of dollars worth of debt. You can avoid such scenarios by hiring an attorney to investigate the building, licenses, and other issues on your behalf to make sure they’re legitimate. When a deal appears too good to be true, your attorney will present you with the facts to prevent you from making a decision that could hurt your business.

Top Reasons to Hire a Real Estate Attorney

In addition to saving you time, money, and legal battles down the road, an attorney, well versed in real estate law, will provide the kind of attention to detail that will give you peace of mind, and won’t take you away from your top priority — nurturing your business. That way, you can concentrate on your company rather than trying to manage complicated ownership, boundary issues, insurance, and/or leasing disputes later.

While your real estate broker is paramount to locating your space and negotiating some economics of the deal, they can’t provide legal advice. Only your attorney can adequately take on the fine print that you may easily overlook when reviewing the following:

Zoning Laws – Working alongside an attorney can help you gain a better understanding of the zoning laws to which you need to adhere, as well as the types of development options your property offers.

Purchase/Sales Agreements – Your attorney will ensure that your purchase or sales contract clearly defines your rights, obligations, and liabilities.

New Construction Agreements – When you purchase new construction, your attorney can review the documents and contracts prepared by builders and make sure your rights are protected.

Lease Agreements – Terms such as rent, start date, and renewal details in a lease agreement should be carefully reviewed by your attorney.

Title Insurance – Your attorney will oversee the title search, explain title exceptions, review title commitment, help determine if the legal description on the commitment is correct and if there are any issues with prior owners.

Commercial Lease Disputes – You can depend on your attorney to negotiate or litigate in order to enforce your rights as a lessor.

Eminent Domain – Your attorney can be a valuable asset in the event you are faced with the prospect of losing ownership if the government attempts to take your commercial property for public use.

It’s important to note that the consumer protections in residential real estate don’t apply to commercial transactions. The commercial property industry has separate, state-specific laws that apply — making it all the more important to seek an attorney who understands this specific subset of laws and who can represent you and your interests.

Vanguard Can Partner with You and Your Legal Counsel

At Vanguard Title, we understand the complexities and potential issues layered in commercial real estate transactions. We even have seasoned general counsel on staff with extensive experience in successfully closing such transactions. We’re ready to partner with you to make sure your high-liability, commercial/industrial and development real estate projects are protected against unforeseen problems.