When is the right time to talk to lawyers?

By Bianca Dabu

Some property investors are looking into developing particular blocks as part of their strategy. Just like with any investment it is important to employ the help of field experts and professionals to assist. Who should a developer to?

According to ClarkeKann Lawyers' James Nickless and Ian McKnight, investors who want to dabble in property development should engage with lawyers as soon as possible.

"The reality is that, financiers [and] engineers will take a tag-team approach, so if you engage us early, it's [won't be], 'Okay, the clock started ticking. I'm just paying these guys for longer,'" he said.

"We can provide a plan that says, 'Use us now. Sit us out. Then go and talk to your town planner. Go and talk to your engineers. Get us back in, in this process.'"

"We've helped developers with site acquisition. I'm helping a few with crane oversailing and ground anchor issues with adjoining properties at the moment," James added.

"There are various key stages; this is a prime example: Just before I came over here, I was dealing with a matter where they've gotten so far themselves and now they're starting to have issues with adjoining land owners.

"They've saved whatever they've saved up until now but I may now find problems with what they've done previously. At least if they come in early, they can get the full road map and then they'll know where the touch points are to get us and others involved."

While lawyers don't have to be involved throughout the journey, they could provide a plan or a clear road map for developers to follow, which can make the process considerably easier and more efficient.

According to Ian, "early is better".

"The lawyer doesn't have to be involved every second of every day. It doesn't work like that. They, in effect, provide a strategy, a plan, and the client can look at all of that and say, 'Well, I can get half way down the road here, just by speaking to X and Y.

"Then if I run into a problem or indeed I need revision, get the lawyer back at that stage.'"

At the end of the day, he said it's all about having the ability to get the right advice at the right time.

"Assemble your team... at the outset. So when you have a problem or you think you've got a problem even, then you've got people on standby and they're ready to respond to whatever the problem may be," Ian concluded.

Tune in to Ian McKnight and James Nickless' episode in The Smart Property Investment Show to know more about the rules behind strata and the politics involved with the owners' corporation.

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When is the right time to talk to lawyers?
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