Due diligence analysis is critical to translating your organization's strategic goals into profitable real estate planning. 

Before you purchase or lease your next property — whether that’s a greenfield, brownfield, or existing building site — it is important to do the right detective work so you can be confident in your purchase with a clearer understanding of what’s needed to get your site up and running. 

 

1. Identifying needs 

Beyond square footage, you’ll want to identify how this building will serve your company’s immediate needs and fit into the long-term strategic picture. What opportunities or roadblocks could a particular property present over time?  

You’ll also need to prioritize your project needs. No property is perfect. The earlier you consider what concessions you’re willing to make, the faster you’ll be prepared to move when you find the site you want. What are your deal breakers? Are you willing to pay extra for faster speed-to-market? How long would you be able to wait for that prime location?   

 

2. Conditions and regulations 

You’ve set the programming for your new site, so the next hurdle is identifying properties that can support that program both physically and legally. Are your intended uses allowed under the current zoning for the site? Is the location too close to a residential area? There’s always the possibility of securing a variance or waiver to change the ordinances governing the property. Those pursuits are most successful when conducted by experienced professionals who understand how the process works, including what information will help build a compelling case and how to collect that information. 

 

3. Coordination

Technical due diligence requires a complex team of specialists to evaluate the different facets of a site – utilities, traffic, soil conditions, structural integrity, etc. Hours of time and specialized knowledge are required to identify the different trails that need to be followed and the professionals best qualified to do so. From there, you’ll need someone to synthesize that information into next steps and recommendations. Will you compile this data from all these sources in-house or will you hire an external project manager? A qualified due diligence project manager can offer a single point-of-contact to lead the project, simplifying the process for your team and producing clearer results for apples-to-apples site comparisons.    

Having a single contact and manager for the project will also keep efforts coordinated and streamlined, which can further ensure discretion around sensitive projects. When working with architects and engineers, you’re working with professionals experienced in talking with local officials, leaders, and AHJs. They understand the most direct way to find certain information and how to protect the identity of clients when needed. 

 

4. Reporting

A thorough due diligence report can easily gather over 50 pages of data, including permitting applications, utility maps, and building or site assessments. Without organization, this information can become overwhelming instead of instructive. This can be further complicated when you’re working with multiple consultants who have individual methods for gathering and sharing data. Having a single point of contact with a proven system for collecting, storing, and sharing the data the investigation generates will help you make your final decisions about a site.  

 

5. Analysis 

To get the most benefit out of the due diligence process, you’ll want to close out the process with more than a long PDF of maps and permits. The experts you choose to lead the investigation should also give you some high-level recommendations for next steps and make sure to draw your attention to any major red flags. A due diligence team who really values your organization and treats the business relationship as a partnership will have done extensive work in the beginning to learn about your values and goals for this project. The more you can share with them and bring them into your decision making metrics, the better the research conducted on your behalf will reflect what you need to make an informed decision on the property. 

 

Knowledge is power, especially in real estate. With the right information and an experienced team conducting the investigation, you can be better equipped to move forward. 

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Read more about our due diligence services or discover how we used our due diligence services to help a national brand expand their distribution capacity 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Morgan Hawker, PE, MS

Written by Morgan Hawker, PE, MS

Morgan Hawker is a Senior Project Manager in our Industrial Design Studio with over 20 years of experience in civil engineering team management and project management. She has a degree from Rose-Hulman with a master's degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Morgan is a member of the Project Management Institute as well as the American Society of Civil Engineers.