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Property Development Lawyers

We're experts in assisting developers with multi lot subdivisions and sales, including preparation of master Contracts of Sale.

Property development of large-scale projects is becoming more important in Australia due to housing shortages across the country – particularly in inner city regions – and developers continue to see high demand.

Development is therefore a potentially profitable enterprise and it also benefits the broader community, but the area is fraught with difficulty and developers need experienced property development lawyers who can help negotiate this rough terrain.

  • What do I need to consider?

    The course of a multiple lot property development is always uncertain, and planning and building issues are often complex.

    As a developer, you will need to consider various issues and challenges before commencing your project, and be prepared to face others that arise along the way. These challenges include:

    • Financial issues (eg GST implications)
    • Physical issues (eg potential site contamination)
    • Compliance (eg liquor and gaming licensing)
    • Planning issues
    • Different players with competing interests (eg environmental authorities and the community)
    • Time and budget constraints
    • Funding issues
    • Requirements specific to construction lenders
    • Council guidelines
    • Applicable legislation
    • Market and other changes (including legislative) during the lifetime of the development
    • Rules and regulations specific to different jurisdictions

    In our experience, successful developers surround themselves with advisors who are experts in this field: they know that they cannot undertake any project without legal help. For example, lawyers can advise on planning, property acquisition, subdivision arrangements, banking arrangements, ‘off the plan’ sales, dispute resolution and final purchase settlements.

  • What is the process?

    Property development is long and drawn out. You will need to secure funding from one or more lenders, and most banks apply vigorous restrictions on sales of lots in a multi-level residential development.

    To be successful, an application for construction lending should include everything from your corporate structure diagram, to your list of potential builders, to your architectural drawings and site plan layout, as well as any relevant legal documents like trust deeds and contracts of sale – to name but a few.

    Complex, multimillion dollar projects often involve multi-lot strata developments in joint ventures between Australian property developers and inbound foreign investors. Such projects require Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) approval and a suite of associated documentation. You must also be prepared for intrusive ATO audits and issues relating to GST, capital gains tax and income tax.

    Additionally, your lawyer must be across any SRO concessions that may apply to purchases of property ‘off the plan’, and should ensure that you are receiving your deposit funds from your estate agent as soon as possible (so you are receiving the interest). It is also essential to engage subdivision lawyers who understand how the margin scheme can be used and the process for ensuring it can be applied to your sales. Without the right legal advice, you will lose money.

  • What are the risks?

    Recent times have seen a contraction in the number of lenders interested in development lending. Many smaller players have left the market, leaving only the four major banks – whose lending criteria are now much tougher.

    Today, the banks impose stricter lending covenants and take a harsher view of breaches. It is also taking much longer to get loan approval due to more detailed reviews by internal capital and credit committees within banks.

    Also, there is always a risk that the goal posts will change during the lifetime of a development – whether due to market evolutions or changes in legislation. This is why developers need to engage advisors who can help them stay ahead of the market and other conditions. Without sound advice, your funds may be exposed and your development could be at risk of failure.

Why choose Slater and Gordon?

Property development transactions need experienced lawyers who understand your project. We understand the challenges facing developers and we always aim to provide timely, effective advice that considers all factors relevant to your situation.

We work with developers of all sizes on residential, government, commercial and industrial projects, including high-rise projects, shopping centres, mixed use developments and industrial parks. Our clients include individuals, property funds, national retailers and developers, and hotel owners, developers and operators.

We understand the requirements of all stakeholders (including lenders) and the unique contractual needs when subdividing land and high density development. We can prepare or review your documentation (including master contracts of sale) and ensure these cover all aspects to protect your position and ensure your best outcome – financial or otherwise. Our experts can also advise on agreements with contractors and manage off-the-plan sales.

Make an enquiry

If you have a question, want some more information or would just like to speak to someone, make an enquiry now and we’ll be in touch with you very soon.

Enquire now