Environmental Regulations for Real Estate Purchases in Southwest Florida: A Comprehensive Guide

When it comes to real estate purchases in Southwest Florida, there are a variety of environmental regulations that buyers should be aware of. For starters, the state has a number of voluntary cleanup programs that can be accessed for more information. Additionally, corporate tenants are increasingly looking for buildings that have been recognized for their green qualities, such as energy efficiency. It is also important to note that due diligence should be conducted before launching a transaction in order to better assess the relative value of potential offers, make informed decisions regarding compensation, or evaluate potential risk transfer products, such as insurance.

In most real estate due diligence exercises, the scope of the review will go beyond the ESA standard Phase I. Environmental due diligence in real estate transactions typically focuses on the presence of pollution and meeting environmental requirements. The Southwest Florida Coastal Conservation Corridor (SWFCCC) project and the Port of Charlotte National Estuary Program Restoration Plan have identified potential conservation land across the county. If the property is not within a Florida Forever project, the owner should contact the Office of Environmental Services for guidance on submitting an application to consider including a new project on a Florida Forever list or to add a property to the boundaries of an existing Florida Forever project. The Green Building Council also recognizes leadership in energy and environmental design (LEED) in building construction and design.

If the seller allows the buyer to take samples, which is not uncommon in real estate transactions, and the tests do not identify contamination, the buyer can proceed with the purchase of the land with the certainty that the environmental risks have been thoroughly evaluated. The primary objective of any due diligence assessment in the real estate sector is to determine the presence or likelihood of contamination. This means that, in many cases, the purchaser of a property can be held responsible for any on-site contamination, even if that contamination was due to operations that were carried out a long time ago. One issue that is receiving increasing scrutiny from regulators and lenders in relation to commercial real estate transactions is the risk of vapour intrusion. Consequently, any party acquiring real estate in connection with a transaction must carry out rigorous due diligence, including ESA phase I, to assess the risk of on-site environmental contamination.

In a traditional commercial real estate transaction, the buyer usually intends to purchase the real estate for an investment and usually does not pretend to be the operator or owner. When it comes to purchasing real estate in Southwest Florida, it is essential for buyers to understand all applicable environmental regulations. Buyers should take advantage of voluntary cleanup programs and LEED certifications when available. Additionally, they should conduct thorough due diligence before launching a transaction in order to better assess potential offers and evaluate potential risks. This includes assessing any potential contamination on-site as well as evaluating vapour intrusion risks.

By taking these steps, buyers can ensure that they are making informed decisions when it comes to their real estate purchases.

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