How to Choose a Real Estate Development and Construction Advisor

Congratulations! You’ve identified your next project. Now you need to identify the team that will help you bring your vision to life. Before construction even begins, this team may be helping with specific site selection and due diligence, securing zoning and entitlements, and creating a schedule and budget. All of this will lay the foundation for the rest of your project. Project managers must oversee not only the external team of architects, construction managers, general contractors, but perhaps furniture vendors and specialty consultants. In addition to you, they may also have to work well with board members and your designated internal staff. Management of such a complex team is never an easy task. But a good project manager will do so by setting expectations for all internal project team members and holding all of them accountable for their designated roles and assigned tasks through effective use of people skills.

Here are five areas to consider as you decide who will represent you in this crucial role.

What is their experience with similar projects?
Every type of project is different. You don’t want to hire a firm whose primary experience is with renovations to be your representative for an out of the ground new building. Ask the right questions upfront, get references, and understand their portfolio of similar projects. As the project progresses from planning to execution, the firm you select will need to shift their focus to scheduling contractors, processing payments, and managing change orders (if needed). This is a broad and varied list of skill sets and you need to make sure each skill is represented with the depth of experience on the team you select.

Do they have the bandwidth to devote to your project?
If the firm is good, they will be in high demand, but make sure they have enough time to devote to your project. Their primary responsibility will be to make sure your project is completed with your program and visual goals while cominges in on time and on budget, and no milestones are missed. It’s a big responsibility and you need to ensure the time is available from their team.

Can they be flexible and fill just the roles you need if you have in-house team members for some of them?
How will they be at working with your team? Have the firm you are considering always done comprehensive project management or have some roles filled by employees of the developer that they needed to interact with? You need to make sure they have experience in the type of role you want them to play for you. They are your representative in meeting rooms, online conferences and on-site and they will need to work well with your team, as needed, to ensure the project is builtd to your specifications.

Will their decisions and reporting be transparent so you are kept apprised of everything at all times?
This is an area where surprises are bad. You need to make sure the reports and recommendations you’re getting are reliable, timely, and comprehensive. Anything less isn’t good enough.

Do they have good references from past clients?
In addition to their experience in particular areas, these certified professionals should have excellent communication and interpersonal skills. How did they do with previous clients? Were good decisions made and was communication smooth? A good firm should not be afraid to share some references with you.