Deciding to throw your hat into the real estate development ring means you will soon be juggling several things on your to-do list and putting out fires.

Whether you are looking to renovate an existing property or start from scratch and create a unique branding experience, you need help along the way. The process can take years from inception to completion and choosing a great team will lead to financial success.

One vital addition to that team is an experienced real estate development lawyer. Someone who understands not only real estate, but all the legal facets and hurdles involved in business management, permits, and financing.

Read on for signs to know when to get a lawyer for your new endeavor.

What Does It Take to Be in Real Estate Development

Not everyone is cut out to be a real estate developer, but they are the backbone of the commercial and residential market.

Many start their careers as real estate agents. They learn tips and tricks along the way and decide they want to grow and promote their community and their career.

Others fall into this type of work from the construction side of things. With their years of experience, they have trusted architects and resources and decide to journey out on their own.

If you have the drive to excel and a background in real estate, business management, marketing, and finances then you are on the right track.

Here is how a real estate development attorney can help get you started.

The Sale

Real estate development is a little more advanced than simply buying a home.

Acquiring property for both commercial and residential, or a combination, requires knowledge of the market, potential site surveys, and environmental impact studies.

You will also need to go through the due diligence process of the title examination.

There are multiple agencies involved and it is key to have one central contact to organize all the information. As the client, you need your interests protected with sound legal advice.

Plans, Plans, and More Plans

Planning for your real estate development is an intricate step in the future success of this endeavor. There are development plans, site plans, and of course, building plans that all have their specific requirements.

Are you renovating an existing property? Has a market analysis been completed? Are you going to combine residential space with retail space? All the parties involved must be on the same page and an attorney will keep the plans moving in the right direction.

Tax Laws

Tax laws are a legal minefield all its own. There are local, state, and federal guidelines and laws that must be followed. You have enough on your plate without trying to learn all the necessary tax codes.

Let your attorney work with your accountant to sort through all the details and then follow the lawyer’s advice.


Permits are another potential difficulty to overcome. For a development project, you will need both a land-use permit and a building permit.

The land use permit allows for the actual use of the land for your specific concept design. The approval depends on things like any rezoning issues and resolving conflict with the community residents or other businesses. This permit can be the hardest and take the longest to obtain.

The building permit opens the door for the actual start of construction. In this stage, engineers from the governing jurisdiction in question will review the building plans. They are looking to make sure all safety measures and building codes are up to date.

Your real estate attorney can walk you through all the legal processes in obtaining these permits. They can note potential pitfalls and make sure everything is in order and lines up for speedy approval.


Your dream project will never leave the planning stage without proper financial backing.

Finding investors or backers may be the easy part, but there are still many lines of fine print to read and spaces to sign. Multiple avenues of financing are used in such a project, and all the details must line up.

It is wise to let your attorney research all financing options. Do not rush through this step and jeopardize the success of the project.

Construction Contracts

Once the permits are signed and the financing is arranged, it is time to start seeing the actual fruit of your labor. It is time to build.

As with any construction project, there will be a contract and agreements. There should be clear direction on the scope of work, responsibilities, and payment. There will likely be delays and changes along the way as well.

Contingencies for modification and timeline must be addressed. All of these should be thoroughly reviewed by your real estate lawyer.

Leasing Agreements

Whether you are building a commercial/retail space, residential, or a mixed space, you will eventually need to draw up leasing agreements unless you are going to sell once completed.

These agreements are a solid base for the ongoing relationship with the development and the tenants. Do yourself a favor and make sure all the bases are covered.

An attorney can help with the correct terminology, current leasing laws, and any special conditions that could be involved in this development. Don’t have any lease signed without oversight and recommendation from your lawyer.

Potential Disputes

From the initial stage of planning to filling the space with tenants, there will be disputes that arise from time to time.

Some can be handled quickly with no legal action. However, unforeseen events may cause a person, or persons, to challenge you and file a lawsuit.

For as much as you know about real estate, you should leave the legal issues and disputes to the attorneys.

If you have secured a real estate development lawyer who has been with you every step of the way, they will be familiar with your vision and also knowledgeable of all your dealings. They will be able to properly and swiftly handle any legal disputes that crop up.

A Trusted Partnership

A successful real estate development strategy requires dedicated teamwork.

One key component of that team is an experienced real estate attorney. From the initial planning stages to tenant management or resale, we will be with you every step of the way.

For more information on how our services can help you fulfill your dream, please reach out.

Bryan De Bruin

Bryan De Bruin is a Real Estate and Business Law attorney serving Greenville, SC and the surrounding upstate. Bryan is proud to guide clients through the legal process and makes sure that every client understands each phase of their case, so that they are prepared for what happens next.