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Selling Land to a Commercial Developer


The world of commercial real estate is vast, intricate, and full of both opportunities and challenges. One of the most intricate transactions within this market is selling land to a commercial developer. For landowners, especially those unfamiliar with the commercial real estate market, it can feel a bit like navigating a labyrinth. One misstep can lead to missed opportunities and dead deals. For landowners looking to sell to commercial developers, understanding each nuance is critical. 


The process of selling land is multi-layered, involving numerous evaluations, negotiations, and legalities that can seem overwhelming at first. However, with a clear understanding of each stage and its implications, sellers can move forward confidently, optimizing the benefits and minimizing challenges. This type of transaction, when approached with the right knowledge and engaged with the right partners, can be incredibly rewarding.


Understanding the Market

Before starting the process of selling, landowners may want to assess the commercial viability of their property. Factors such as location, accessibility, and neighboring developments play critical roles in determining a piece of land's appeal to developers.


Current market trends can offer a glimpse of potential demand. It's not just about understanding the present but also projecting the future. What developments are planned in the vicinity? Are there impending infrastructure projects? These factors can significantly impact the land's profitability, not just in its current value but in potential future appreciation.


As the land owner, it is not your outright responsibility to review these factors as they relate to your property, but any developer that you are attempting to sell your land to will be reviewing the following details to determine whether the land will be a good fit for them and their clients. 


Commercial Viability

Not all land is created equal. Proximity to transport hubs, existing infrastructure, and even neighboring developments can significantly influence a property's appeal to developers.


Market Trends

The real estate market is in a constant state of flux. Understanding the current trends—like the move towards mixed-use developments or the rise of sustainable building practices—can provide insights into the potential demand in the area.


Profitability Projections

A land's current value is just the tip of the iceberg. Factors like upcoming infrastructure projects, governmental policies, and even global economic conditions can influence its worth in the future.


Preparing the Land

Preparation is the foundation upon which successful sales are built. You will begin with thorough property assessments to gain insights into the land's value and any potential issues that could stall sales.


Legal preparations, starting with title checks, ensure that ownership is clear and there are no underlying issues that could lead to disputes down the road. The gold standard in this phase is creating a "pad-ready" site.


Property Assessments

Before putting land up for sale, it's essential to understand its strengths and weaknesses. Assessments help in identifying areas of improvement, be it infrastructure or accessibility.


Legal Preparations

Title checks are a preemptive measure, ensuring that there are no underlying issues or disputes waiting to erupt. They verify ownership and highlight any liens or encumbrances on the property.


Making the site "Pad-ready"

A "pad-ready" site is akin to a blank canvas for developers. By ensuring the land is clean, clear, and primed, sellers not only increase its appeal but can also command a better price.


Finding the Right Developer

The next step is perhaps one of the most crucial: choosing a developer. This involves research, evaluation, and a deep dive into potential developers' past projects and successes. A developer's portfolio can offer valuable insights into their capabilities, style, and vision. It's not just about selling the land; it's about ensuring its future aligns with the seller's vision.



Not all developers are the same. Some may specialize in residential projects, while others might be giants in the commercial realm. Researching potential developers, understanding their past projects, and even seeking testimonials can offer valuable insights.


Portfolio evaluation

Past performance is often an indicator of future results. By evaluating a developer's portfolio, landowners can gauge their capabilities, financial health, and vision.


Developer's intent

Understanding what a developer intends to do with the property is crucial. Whether it's a retail hub, a mixed-use development, or an office building, future use can influence the land's price and the legacy the seller leaves behind.


Due Diligence

Once a developer is in the picture, the rigorous process of due diligence begins. Essential assessments, such as the ALTA Survey, become paramount. This comprehensive survey provides a clear picture of boundaries, easements, rights-of-way, and other potential land issues, minimizing the possibility of legal disputes in the future.


Essential assessments

The ALTA Survey is a critical tool in commercial real estate. It provides a detailed look at the property, from boundaries to rights-of-way, ensuring transparency and minimizing future disputes.


soil reports

The quality of the soil determines the kind of construction it can support. With tests like the Geotechnical Report and the Phase 1 Environmental Survey, sellers and buyers get insights into the ground's suitability for development.


rezoning and traffic assessments

Sometimes, the envisioned use of a property might not align with existing zoning regulations. In such cases, rezoning becomes essential. Traffic assessments, on the other hand, ensure that the property can handle the expected influx, be it vehicular or pedestrian.


The Permitting Period

A necessary yet time-consuming phase is obtaining the required permits. From standard building permits to grading, driveway, and signage permits, each plays a unique role in shaping the property's development. These permissions, while tedious, ensure that the development aligns with local regulations, environmental standards, and safety protocols.


While often seen as a bureaucratic hurdle, permits are the building blocks of any development. They ensure that constructions adhere to local regulations, are environmentally sustainable, and are safe for future occupants.


Closing the Deal

As the journey reaches its culmination, the final steps of the transaction come into focus. This stage involves a comprehensive review of all previous steps, ensuring all criteria are met, and both parties are aligned in their understanding and expectations. Legal documents are reviewed, ownership details clarified, and the process of transition begins.


The final lap of this journey involves dotting the i's and crossing the t's. Legal documents are exchanged, ownership details are ironed out, and the land begins its transformation journey.


The process of selling land to a commercial developer, although complex, can be navigated effectively with the right knowledge and partners. Each stage has its own significance, and understanding these can significantly influence the success of a transaction.


For those landowners who envision their property transforming into a bustling retail space or commercial hub, the choice of developer becomes paramount. And in this realm, SimonCRE stands as a beacon of expertise and reliability. If you believe your land has the potential to be the next retail landmark, contact SimonCRE. With our unmatched expertise in development and redevelopment, we can help turn that vision into reality.




Austin gottsacker >

Director of Acquisitions & Leasing

Austin Gottsacker started with SimonCRE in 2015 as a Development Associate, in January 2017 was named Acquisitions and Leasing Manager, and in 2022 was named Director of Acquisitions and Leasing. As Director of Acquisitions and Leasing, Austin works with the CEO, tenants, and brokers to execute client requirements as well as manage the in-house outreach and due diligence for the company’s projects. He is also responsible for the site investigation, underwriting, budgeting, site planning, and managing relationships for the company’s vendors and consultants. Austin then follows projects through the entitlement process to aid in a variety of challenges and help keep projects on schedule and on budget.

Acquisition Commercial Real Estate Development Finding a Developer Commercial Real Estate Development Planning Due Diligence Seller Acquisition Due Diligence Retail Land Selling Land

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