Due Diligence for Commercial Real Estate: A Checklist for Seller’s Documents
When you buy a used car, you look under the hood and kick the tires. If you buy a jalopy at a great price, you tolerate more defects than if you buy an expensive performance vehicle at market price. The point is, you investigate and confirm the desirability and value of what you buy. This is the due diligence process in a nutshell. The only difference between due diligence for commercial real estate transactions and for a car is what information you evaluate.
Since most commercial property sales are done on an “as-is” basis (with minimal or no representations and warranties), conducting proper due diligence is especially important to buyers. Although there are many elements of the due diligence process, including obtaining new third-party inspection reports and a title report, the attached due diligence checklist focuses on information that buyers attempt to obtain from sellers.
Due diligence is a key part of acquiring commercial real estate. For buyers, the due diligence process is a time consuming and costly process. But, it is necessary to uncover facts and circumstances that may impact the value of the property being acquired. It may also lead the buyer to the conclusion that they are either getting a great deal, should renegotiate the purchase price or back out of the deal altogether. Sellers can anticipate the requests buyers will make during the due diligence and take preparatory steps to expedite the sale of commercial real estate, including organizing and preparing due diligence documents for buyers in advance of placing the property on the market.
See below for a detailed, though not fully comprehensive, list of documents for a buyer to request a seller.
DUE DILIGENCE DOCUMENT CHECKLIST
Depending upon the information available to the seller, the buyer’s list may be winnowed down by the seller during negotiations. This process, in itself, may provide the buyer with insight into unquantifiable risks or costs that will be incurred to obtain the information.
- Rent roll showing, for each tenant:
- Tenant’s name, suite number, size of premises.
- Rent, scheduled rental increases, percentage rent.
- Term commencement and expiration dates, options to extend.
- Options and rights of refusal to expand or contract the premises or to terminate the lease.
- Common area expense pro rata share, base year and base year expenses, if applicable, caps.
- Security deposit.
- Guarantors, if any.
- Concessions made to tenants, including free or reduced rent, above standard tenant improvements, cash payments, moving allowances, or takeover of previous lease obligations.
- Nature of tenant’s business and use, including exclusive use rights, if any.
- A schedule of any tenant improvement work Seller is obligated to complete but has not yet completed and capital improvement work either scheduled or in process on the date of this purchase agreement.
- Current and historic vacancy rates.
- A copy of all leases (including all exhibits and attachments) and amendments, including guarantees and subleases.
- A copy of or access to review the tenants’ files maintained by the seller.
- Most recent financial statements and credit information and reports, if any, for all tenants and guarantors.
- Current and historic payment reports for each tenant.
- Any executed letters of intent with prospective tenants.
- Most recent leasing status report from leasing broker.
- Standard form lease.
- Financial statements of the property for the past three years and year-to-date for the current calendar year.
- Current operating and capital expense budgets of the property, including comparison of actual to budgeted results and an explanation of significant variances.
- Listing of capital expenditures for the property for the prior years.
- Copies of all service, maintenance, leasing, management, or other contracts, and all other agreements, warranties, and guaranties relating to the operation, use, management, or maintenance of the property.
- Copies of real estate tax bills (including special assessments) for the prior three (3) years, including evidence of payment of each.
- Utility bills for the last two years.
- Aged receivables report through the date for the prior twenty-four (24) months.
- Copies of all owner’s insurance policies now in effect with respect to the property, including owner disclosure affidavits, insurance inspector’s risk assessment reports and copies of any claims under such policies, and evidence in Seller’s possession that tenants are maintaining the insurance coverages required under their leases.
- List of employees, if applicable, including name, position, wage and benefits.
Building Information (Plans and Reports)
- Mechanical reports, including HVAC.
- Roof reports.
- Environmental reports, including soils tests, radon, mold, lead paint and asbestos reports.
- Geotechnical soils reports.
- Seismic risk assessment (probable maximum loss) reports.
- Plans and specifications showing “as built” condition of the property.
- Reports showing compliance with Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements.
- Architect’s certificate or studies certifying the square footage of the building.
- All licenses, permits, and approvals for the property, including, without limitation, certificates of occupancy for the building and for each tenant.
- Most recent boundary and/or title survey.
- Seller’s policy of title insurance for the property.
- A copy of existing loan documents if the loan(s) are being assumed.
- Copies of any notices of violations of or verifications of compliance with any federal, state, municipal, or other health, fire, building, zoning, safety, environmental protection, or other applicable codes, laws, rules, regulations, or ordinances relating or applying to the property.
- List of all pending and historic litigation against the property, against Seller, or any general partner of the Seller that relates to the property.
- For larger properties, trademarks, brochures and websites if such intellectual property is to be transferred.
- A list of all furniture, fixtures, equipment and supplies attached to, located in, our used in connection with the operation of the property which will be conveyed to the buyer.
If you have any questions or comments, email Rick.