Legal Considerations for Commercial Real Estate Transactions in Seattle, WA

Real estate transactions can become complex very quickly, largely due to the many rules and restrictions in the industry. While the federal government has overarching rules about how to sell a piece of property, Washington D.C. officials aren’t the only ones who get a say.

A real estate lawyer in Seattle, WA, has to constantly stay on their toes when it comes to changing expectations and sensibilities. In fact, legal considerations can vary from street to street, depending on what’s being sold. From cities to neighborhoods, sellers and buyers alike need to be aware of the shifting legalese and expectations coming from every direction.


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Types of Commercial Real Estate

It’s worth noting that the word commercial in Seattle can refer to any number of properties. There are ways to narrow down a commercial property due to its price point or neighborhood, but there’s more to it than drawing one line in the sand for any particular category. A property type (sometimes called an asset class) comes down to how the property is used and what it’s for.

  • Retail: These properties are more than just stores in the mall. They can include dry cleaners, salons, and even restaurants. As a general rule in Seattle, the expansion of online shopping has made service-based businesses more popular in the city.
  • Office: An office property can be either multi-tenant or single-tenant. You may see office buildings divided into classes A, B, and C, with the Class A properties referring to the largest and most prestigious properties (typically found either downtown or in Bellevue).
  • Industrial: When people think of industrial buildings, they’re likely to think of manufacturing or warehouses, but the term can also be applied to buildings used for cold storage, research, or data hosting. Industrial properties can be converted (e.g., into condos or office parks), but the cost of doing so is typically prohibitive.
  • Multi-family: Multi-family in Seattle refers to a building that can house five families or more. In other words, if you buy a duplex, this would be considered residential real estate as opposed to commercial real estate. This is the most available type of real estate in the city, as the rapid growth of Seattle called for more of these types of units.

Legal Considerations for Different Property Types

Legal considerations are based on the scale of the property type. For instance, the contract for an office building with more than a million square feet will be different than that of a small retail store. If you want to successfully navigate who is responsible for what, the right attorney in Seattle can help you sort out the details.

Commercial Real Estate Transactions

Leasing, buying, investing, selling: commercial real estate transactions can involve brokers, environmental consultants, inspectors, title teams, lenders, appraisers, escrow reps, and mortgage brokers. Everyone has their own agenda when it comes to assessing the value of the land and weighing in on its future use.


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It’s no wonder people hire real estate attorneys to help them manage the many moving parts of each agreement. If you’re selling commercial property in Seattle, you’re subjected to everything from the lending process to environmental inspections to tax laws.

Feasibility Periods in Commercial Real Estate

You also have to contend with feasibility periods, also known as the amount of time the buyer has to conduct their due diligence on a property. The standard for these periods is often around a month, but the length of time is based on the nature of the transaction. With commercial properties, these periods are often longer than most sellers anticipate.

Commercial Real Estate Contracts

A real estate lawyer in Seattle, WA, can tell you that the contract will be a critical part of any transaction in commercial real estate. This is the document that people will reference again and again when it comes to how certain matters should be handled. If you do end up in court, a vague or otherwise improper contract can slow things down considerably or even end in a premature dismissal of the case in favor of the accusing party.

What Should Be Listed in the Contract

Contracts need to include the following:


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  • Descriptions: List the dimensions, address, and any other important details of the property. If there are known defects, these need to be disclosed in the contract.
  • Pricing: Contracts should have all the fees and prices listed in the contract. Sales or leasing contracts should include the mode of payments accepted (e.g., wire transfer, etc.) and the schedule of payments.
  • Closure date: The closure date needs to be clearly stated in the contract. There also needs to be a detailed description of what exactly needs to occur before the deadline.

Both sides of the transaction need to attest that they are legally permitted to enter the agreement and have not made any intentional misrepresentations or omissions.

Commercial Real Estate Leases

Commercial leases are entered into by the landlord and the tenant. These can be very long contracts, which include options for renewals, conditions of rent, specifications of how the building should be used, and whether the repairs will be covered by the landlord or the tenant. The keyword when it comes to leases (and really all real estate transactions) is transparency. When everything is spelled out, it’s a lot easier to avoid confusion down the line.

Resolving Disputes Without Going to Court

If you’re having a conflict with your commercial transaction, a good real estate attorney in Seattle will try to look for creative ways to settle the argument without having to go to court. This doesn’t mean conceding your case in any way, only that the attorney will try to save you any unnecessary hassle on your end. Whether that’s through mediation or arbitration, the reality is that an agreement may be closer than you think.

Hire a Real Estate Lawyer in Seattle, WA

The right real estate lawyer in Seattle, WA, can help you take care of all the legal considerations in your city. At Dickson Frohlich Phillips Burgess, you’ll meet a team that knows the commercial markets inside and out. What’s more, they understand how changing societal norms and expectations can help you stay out of any potential trouble down the line.

Real estate today is controlled by people who all have their own interpretation of the law. If you don’t want to leave your fate to chance, having an attorney makes it possible to button up all of the considerations long before they come back to haunt you. See how we can step in and take the pressure off.

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