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Friday, January 17, 2014

A typical real estate project development process

Once the land development process has been completed successfully, a developer will focus his/her energies on the project development process. Developing and delivering a real estate project successfully is challenging and it lasts for several years passing through various phases. Primarily any real estate project can be divided into 5 phases:


Phase I – Land acquisition
The details about land acquisition process can be found at our earlier post of land development process.


Phase II – Construction
Construction phase requires applying for license (permitting), and project development.

  • Permitting/Licensing:

The permitting process usually begins with an application which identifies the site, its location, and a preliminary design of the improvements to be constructed. This application is then used by public officials to verify compliance with its current zoning classification. If it complies, the permit is granted and the construction of the project may commence subject to building codes and inspections. If the permit is denied, the applicant will usually clarify or amend the application and will ask the city planning staff/director to review it again.

  • Preliminary checklist – Project development:

This checklist is usually the first step that a developer reviews when evaluating a site for possible development.

    1. Allowable uses per zoning classification.
    2. Minimum lot size per zoning classification.
    3. Maximum floor to area ratio (FAR).
    4. Building bulk/density limits.
    5. Setback/building line.
    6. Building height limits.
    7. Building footprint/envelope.
    8. Parking ratios.

  • Important terms/project development:
    1. Setback/building line – requirement to construct building a specified number of feet (setback) from the right-of-way line or other landmark.
    2. Right-of-way line – area designated for a public street or alley that is dedicated for traffic, public use, utilities, etc.
    3. Building related terms:
          • Footprint – it is the shape or outline of the primary building slab or foundation as it will be constructed on the site.
            • Envelope – the total outside perimeter of a structure, including footprints and any exterior patios, mall ways, landscaping, etc.
              • Facade – the exterior, usually the main entrance of a structure
                • Bulk – a three dimensional space within which height, width, footprint, and number of structures/elevations/shapes are viewed in total relative to the land area upon which it will sit to determine land use intensity.
                  • Building codes – refer to required materials and methods used to construct improvements within a jurisdiction.
                    • Permit- document executed by the director of planning authorizing the construction, restoration, alteration, repair, etc., of a structure and acknowledging that it conforms to requirements under the applicable zoning ordinance.
                1. Floor to area ratio (FAR) – it is usually calculated as gross building area divided by square footage of land area.
                2. Height restrictions – used to limit the vertical height of a structure to be constructed.
                3. Allowable use – user activities permitted in a zoning classification
                4. Impact fees – charged by public entities to cover added public sector expenses expected to be caused by the development such as traffic control, drainage, etc.
                5. Incentive zoning – used by city planners to accomplish community goals simultaneously with private sector development.
                6. Inclusion zoning – part of a zoning ordinance that requires that a specified type of development be included in order to obtain permit for that site.
                7. Minimum lot size – per zoning classification
                8. Parking ratio – required number of parking spaces per sq. ft of gross building space or per number of apartment units.
                9. Site plans – drawing done to scale depicting the placement relative to other requirements
                10. Traffic counts – number of vehicle trips per hour past a specific site.
                11. Encroachment – occurs when the construction of improvements extends over a property line on to an adjacent property.
                12. Property tax abatement – forgiveness of taxes for a specified number of years.
                13. Land to value ratio – calculated as rupee value of land to total project value (including land) anticipated upon completion of project.


              Phase III – Completion and occupancy

              There are certain risks in any real estate project development. Once the construction has been completed, there is an additional risk of selling and handing over the project to clients or bringing in tenants in case of rental property. Risk begins with land acquisition and increase steadily as construction commences until cash flows from the leasing phase materialize. It should be noted that factors determining the demand for type of space (such as office, retail, warehouse) being developed are critical to project risk. These factors may manifest themselves in current market indicators, such as vacancy rate levels, rent levels, or the extent of leasing commitments from the tenants.

              A very good understanding of the underlying economic base of an urban area or region is critical when assessing the viability of real estate development.  The point is that investors must examine the demand for space in terms of the characteristics of the demand by end users (tenants) in a given market. This demand in turn depends on the type of employment in the local market and the nature of the functions tenants will perform. Only by understanding the local economy and the nature of employment can developer anticipate demand accurately and produce and supply the quantity and quality of space in the proper combination to satisfy market demand.


              Phase IV – Management

              Once the property is occupied by clients/tenants, there is need for professionally managed facility management team. This team can look into the property management tasks such as maintenance, HVAC, parking management, security, civil works, housekeeping, landscaping, etc. These tasks are equally important and ascertain the long life of property and thus ensure positive rental income as well as capital appreciation. 


              Phase V – Sale
              The developer may choose to sell the property from construction phase onward as happens in residential development in India. Or he/she may choose to hold the property in case of commercial developments provided rental income from the commercial properties is significant enough to justify retention.


              6 comments:

              1. Developing a real estate project is no easy task. you need to work hard to complete the project ifrst and then to sell the units. it requires huge investment as well patience too. you must be ready to see the worst conditons and also come over it.

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