Tips for landowners before they enter into a joint venture agreement with real estate developers

By Jay Dee Infra In Real Estate Info No comments

Tips for landowners before they enter into a joint venture agreement with real estate developers

Now, believe it or not, most of these landowners are inheritors of ancestral property and have no clue about the legalities of a joint venture. They go as per the words of their confidants and sometimes find themselves into trouble. Take this, a landowner who entered into a joint venture agreement with a real estate developer in 2006 still finds that his land has been locked by the developer and there are no signs of the proposed group housing project taking off. What can you as the owner of land do before entering into a joint venture with a property developer?

1. First of all, what is a joint venture between a landowner and a real estate developer?

Joint ventures are formed by at least two parties with the objective of achieving a specific investment return. Unlike many other business agreements, when the objective is achieved, the joint venture is usually terminated. Following are the attributes of a joint venture.

  • Risk sharing: A single investor may be unwilling to undertake a real estate venture because of its size, location, capital requirements, and/or duration. However, by sharing the risk, two or more parties may be willing to undertake the venture.
  • Combining expertise with capital: Joint ventures are frequently formed as a way to pool equity capital from one or more sources, as well as a means of bringing parties with different expertise to the venture. A joint venture could also involve purchasing existing properties and operating them. In this case, one of the parties may be responsible for acquisition, leasing, and management, and others may provide capital.
  • Speculative objectives

2. Organizational forms

Participants in joint ventures may include any combination of individual investors, partnerships, corporations, or trusts. However, a joint venture in and of itself is not a legal form of organization.

In order to specify capital contributions, rights, duties, profit sharing, and the like, a joint venture agreement or a business entity must be created.

The choice of organizational form used to accommodate those various groups of investors could be a partnership, corporation, Pvt. Ltd, or trust. Partnerships are frequently the vehicle of choice in real estate joint venture.

land owners development agreement

3. Profit sharing

Because the parties to a joint venture may contribute different things, and possibly in different proportions, a partnership must be structured such that it provides economic incentives for all parties. Differences in tax status of investors also may affect the way partnerships are structured.

A joint venture can take on a number of different partnership forms. The most common is the limited partnership. As is the case with all partnerships, there must be at least one general partner and any number of limited partners. Generally, in real estate, limited partners are the investors that provide most of the equity capital, while general partners are usually responsible for managing the partnership assets and may contribute a relatively small portion of the required equity capital.

4. Following factors are considered by potential investors for structuring a joint venture.

  • How much initial capital will the parties contribute and how will the parties contribute additional capital if needed in the future?
  • How will the parties share in the annual cash flows to be produced from operating the property?
  • How will the parties share in the cash flow received from sale of the property?Will some of the parties receive a preferred return? Will the preferred return be paid from annual cash flows and/or from sale?
  • Will taxable income (or losses) and capital gain (or loss) be shared in the same proportion that operating cash flow to be distributed?
  • Who will have control over the operation of the property and decisions involving capital improvements, approving leases to tenants, financing and possibly refinancing the property, and when to sell the property?

5. Points you as the owner of the land must keep in mind:

  • Check the credentials of the developer. His past record and success in achieving targets.
  • Before entering into a joint venture agreement with a builder, register your company and transfer the land on the book of this new entity. You can hold 100% of shares of this new entity or shares can be held by various promoters depending on their claim in the land. The new entity formed should ideally be registered as private limited company under the company’s law act of India.
  • Now, enter a joint venture agreement with a builder’s company. Therefore, the agreement is between two companies. One providing land for the development of the project and other providing capital and expertise to develop the project.
  • How do you decide on profit sharing? Well, we have defined it above. However, Recent trends in India indicates a 1/3rd – 2/3rd rule. 1/3rd of the project outflows going to the landowner and 2/3rd of the project outflows going to the real estate developer.
  • As a landowner, make sure that the number of housing units or the developed area of the project is assigned to you and is clearly mentioned in the joint venture agreement. For example, in case of housing project, you should have the housing unit number, size, and floor in the joint venture agreement.
  • As an example, a landowner enters into a joint venture agreement with a ABC real estate developer Pvt. Ltd. The plot of land measures 20 acres and about 600 housing units would be developed. As a thumb of rule, 200 units should be assigned to landowner and remaining 400 to the builder. For a landowner, this kind of agreement is safe and can result better returns for his/her land as opposed to the agreement wherein builder pays the 1/3rd of the cash inflows to the landowner on the sale of housing units.
  • Hire a professional legal company with expertise in real estate joint agreements, and due-diligence.

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