Your land acquisition due diligence checklist: A must-have for municipal leaders and developers

Fehr Graham experts can help you with each stage of land acquisition due diligence.
Investigating the legal, environmental and financial conditions of a property is imperative to the success of a commercial land acquisition. If you are a developer or a municipality considering a land remediation/redevelopment project, comprehensive land acquisition due diligence is necessary to make informed decisions during property negotiations. Inadequate due diligence may result in legal proceedings, stiff regulatory fines or penalties that affect your bottom line and derail projects.
It is worth noting that not all land acquisition due diligence is the same. Your commercial real estate deserves a tailored due diligence report created for its unique characteristics. According to the American Society of Testing and Materials International (ASTM) standards, site assessments and environmental due diligence should be done by an environmental professional to ensure you are ticking off the boxes on your land acquisition due diligence checklist.

What does a land acquisition due diligence checklist include?

A comprehensive land acquisition due diligence checklist is based on legal, administrative, environmental, municipal and financial factors. The following table highlights some critical aspects of land acquisition due diligence that you should consider.


Key aspects of land acquisition due diligence 



Environmental requirements

  • Environmental assessments identify and quantify environmental risks of the land to project remediation/cleanup costs.

  • Common environmental appraisals for land acquisition due diligence include Phase I and Phase II Environmental Site Assessments (ESAs), environmental questionnaires, Record Search and Risk Assessment (RSRA) and transaction screens.

  • For land remediation projects, soil and groundwater investigations and underground storage tank (UST) site assessments are imperative to project site cleanup costs.  

  • Additional measures, such as feasibility studies and critical issue analysis, may be required to satisfy environmental due diligence. 

Legal and administrative considerations

  • Certain legal and administrative considerations, such as examining a property’s historical usage records, are covered under a Phase I ESA. 

  • Property surveys, easements, title reports, previous title policies, appraisals and historical bills should be studied to understand the legal and administrative aspects of a site.  

  • Assessment of liens/litigations, due diligence on mergers and acquisitions, analyzing land records, investigating a site’s zoning, site surveys, aerial mapping and wetland mapping should be considered. 

Developmental feasibility

  • Developmental feasibility assesses the critical factors to determine the likelihood of a land development project’s success.

  • Factors such as necessary site work, topography, buildable area, access to utilities, Traffic Impact Studies and economic drivers should be considered to evaluate the feasibility of the redevelopment plan and proposed layout.  

Municipal considerations

  • Local municipal regulations govern what can and can not be done on a property. Municipal considerations also help evaluate the projected future property valuation.

  • Some critical factors for municipal due diligence include land use, off-site improvements, zoning, open space requirements, impervious surface allowances, etc.    

Funding/financial considerations

  • Financial considerations assess a land development project’s financial viability and the means to fund the cleanup costs, if any. 

  • Factors such as residual land value, carrying costs, entitlement costs, estimated soft/hard costs and comparable pre- and post-development land sales should be considered.  

When checking off boxes on a land acquisition due diligence checklist, the many factors to consider might seem intimidating without professional expertise. Also, sequencing the due diligence activities based on the requirements is critical to avoid additional work and unnecessary delays in land transaction deals. A team of experienced environmental professionals can help navigate your land acquisition due diligence checklist.

Partner with environmental professionals for land acquisition due diligence

At Fehr Graham, we have helped municipalities and developers conduct due diligence for commercial and industrial sites since the 1970s. Our team of licensed engineers and environmental professionals conduct custom site assessments, land surveying and other forms of due diligence to help minimize project costs. We will ensure your project complies with local, municipal, state and federal regulations and secure available grants to ensure successful outcomes.
Whether you are redeveloping a junkyard or a vacant manufacturing building, our dedicated environmental professionals provide end-to-end assistance on land redevelopment projects. Our custom ESA reports empower you to make informed decisions on land transactions and avoid costly delays or surprises.

To learn more about how Fehr Graham can help you with comprehensive land acquisition due diligence, contact us or call 920.453.0700.