Three ways to get the most out of your property finance lawyer

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Shannon Lynn
June 15, 2023
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Managing the legal side of the funding process can be complicated and time-consuming if you don’t have the right support.

You need to work with both a broker and a lawyer who have a good understanding of the full scope of your project – and an aligned risk appetite. 

Harry Eddery and Sheelagh Cooley, Partner – Real Estate Finance at Shoosmiths, discussed how to get the best value out of your lawyer and make the legal process as efficient as possible in our latest Development Finance Focus episode.

Below, we share three tips for making sure you get the most value out of your lawyer.


Choose the right lawyer


There are a number of points to consider when looking for the right lawyer to support your project. 

Particularly, if it’s more specialised. Your usual lawyer may not have the specific expertise required to push your project to completion. Costs may also rack up if they realise further down the line that they’re out of their depth or need to extend timeframes. 

Taking time to check that your solicitor has a sufficient amount of indemnity insurance to cover the value of the transaction can also prevent potential losses. Again, you may need to look to a more specialised lawyer, if your deal goes above the value of their cover.

Although the financial side is important (and we’ll get into this more below), the right work ethic is equally key to ensuring your project keeps moving through the funding stages. 

Good communication and a proactive attitude may seem basic, but they could be the difference in the process taking weeks to complete rather than months. 


Scrutinise the fee quotes


Take a careful look at all fee quotes that come in and make sure that you’re comparing costs like for like. There could be some value adds included in a more expensive quote that actually provides more value for money. 

“I would really encourage developers to properly scrutinise those fee quotes. Don’t just look at the bottom line and think that’s the cheapest one, we’ll go with that one, because you need to make sure they’re the same.” – Sheelagh

On top of this, pay close attention to any assumptions added and flag any that may be incorrect. It’s worth raising these with your lawyer and questioning how they may be impacting costs. 

A good solicitor and a good broker will save you time. And for developers, potentially more so than anyone else, time is money so it can be worth paying slightly more for someone more experienced.  


Have all the documents in place

Putting the prep work in and having all necessary documents in place before starting the legal process, will help build momentum from the start. 

Or as Sheelagh put it, come prepared with “A package of documents that is lender ready.”

But what documents are needed? 

  • A full title pack for the property

– Up-to-date searches

– Title indemnity policies

  • Construction pack

– Building contracts with the main contractor

– Appointment log for meeting with construction professionals

– Professional indemnity insurance

– Draft collateral warranties

  • Planning pack

– Planning permission for the development

– Up to date conditions tracker (if applicable)

  • Full financial appraisal 
  • Security package
    – Personal guarantees 

On that last point, it’s worth noting that third-party representation may be needed for your personal guarantees. Again, factoring this in at the start of the process will save you scrambling to find a suitable lawyer at the eleventh hour when you suddenly realise this may be needed. 

It may seem like a lot of work initially, but these are all documents that will be needed. Putting the time in from the start will save delays and sticking points later on in the process. 


Watch the session on demand for more insights

If you want to catch more tips from Sheelagh and Harry on how to efficiently manage the legal side of the funding process, watch our webinar on demand.

During the session, they covered: 

  • How to get the best out of your lawyer
  • What documents you should have in place
  • Which key challenges developers are facing