Why a phased approach to the acquisition process pays

Vail Williams LLP

No matter what type of organisation you are - from business, educational institution to hospital or charity – it’s important to ensure that your premises is flexible and works for you. If it doesn’t, it won’t allow you to develop and thrive, and this can result in you having to acquire or lease new premises.

The prospect of expanding or relocating into a new property can be daunting, but if planned effectively, and with the right advice, there’s no reason why it can’t prove to be a straight forward process.

But what should you expect when leasing or buying a new property? Here’s our 10-stage guide, taking you step by step through what you can expect from the acquisition of a new premises – whether office, industrial or otherwise.

Stage 1 – Detailed brief

This is an important stage and would be the time to agree timescales and any business-critical dates which might impact your move. Working with you, we would get an in-depth project brief to establish the criteria driving your property move and what you require from your new premises.

This helps us to identify suitable options quickly and effectively, including any ‘off-market’ options and upcoming opportunities not yet available on the open market.

Stage 2 – Space assessment

Every square foot or square metre costs your organisation so it’s vital to make sure your property solution is cost effective.

Based on your brief, we would carry out an occupational space assessment which might include anything from staff analysis, proximity to public transport and changes in business requirements, to working practices and corporate / brand image.

If appropriate, we would work with you and other professional advisers such as workplace environment consultants, to determine your optimum solution.

Stage 3 – Option analysis and feasibility

Having undertaken a thorough search of the market using your criteria, we would supply a schedule of relevant and available property options.

This would include information about location and basic amenities and would contain high level cost assessments such as rent, rates and service charges, as well as the terms upon which the property is available.

Stage 4 – Property inspection

When you have selected properties from the shortlist, we would organise property inspection tours.

At this stage, it is important to establish the feasibility of your preferred option upfront, as this will save time and money in the long run if it turns out not to meet your needs.

For example, sometimes it can transpire further down the line, that what appears to be a freehold opportunity, is actually on a long leasehold.

As part of this process, we provide advice and recommendations in relation to the condition of the properties and their appropriateness in relation to your brief, as well as the terms available.

Key considerations here might include whether the property needs planning permission for a change of use, whether there are any environmental liabilities or maintenance issues and the actual tenure.

Stage 5 – Analysis of alternatives 

Sometimes a financial analysis for shortlisted options is prepared, to compare options effectively.

This would cover all property outgoings and any pre-agreed assumptions about the fitting out of the property and occupation.

Depending on the size of the move, a Project Manager might also appointed to ensure you achieve your aims in terms of timelines, quality of fit-out and finance.

Stage 6 – Negotiation

Once you’ve decided on a property, we progress negotiations on your behalf to secure the best possible and most flexible terms, fully protecting your position to mitigate future liabilities.

The negotiation is bespoke - whether it’s to renew a lease in your existing building, or a move to a new property.

Stage 7 – Approval

Having carried out an overview of the terms agreed, the risks and benefits of each property and a comparative cash flow analysis for each property, we would put forward our recommendations based on your criteria.

Stage 8 – Heads of Terms

Once you have agreed on the property and the terms, we would produce a Heads of Terms document which would form the basis of instruction for each party’s solicitors.

This lists the agreed terms and conditions of the proposed property transaction, and would provide solicitors with the information needed to complete the deal in a timely manner.

Stage 9 – Legals

Working closely with your advisers, we would provide commercial input into the legal negotiations, helping to make sure the final document reflects the terms negotiated on your behalf.

Stage 10 – Due Diligence and completion

Using experts from across Vail Williams, we would work with you and your professional consultants, to ensure a thorough and effective due diligence process.

This helps to ensure completion in a timely and cost-effective way.

Without effective due diligence, the risks associated with the property assets you’re about to acquire are unknown, unquantified and unmanaged and you risk exposing your organisation to significant downstream costs.

Indeed, if problems are discovered after the acquisition or lease is completed, it can negate the commercial benefits you might have gained elsewhere in the process.

Acquiring new premises doesn’t have to be an arduous process.

By retaining specialist advisers, you can achieve a great outcome not just for you, but for your people and end users too.

For more information about the services provided by Vail Williams as part of the property acquisition process, from building consultancy, planning and valuation, to lease advice, don’t hesitate to get in touch.