Real estate in Colombia
Pinilla González & Prieto Abogados is an indisputable leader in urban planning regulation and development. The robust 17-strong department specialises in structuring and executing complex urban plans and real estate projects, and implementing administrative and financial instruments for their development, and can also draw strength from the firm's environmental, litigation, corporate and tax departments. Acting for an impressive portfolio of construction companies, the firm renders permanent legal advisory to Fideicomiso Lagos de Torca, currently the largest urban development in Colombia. Juan Manuel González has over 20 years' experience in the sector, Ángela Caicedo leads the urban law team, and Sandra Lizcano primarily advises on structuring projects and on the creation of urban development instruments; all three co-head a team that is lauded for being 'up to date on regulatory changes' and 'instilling confidence and strength' due to its knowledge of their clients' business. Also a key figure, Felipe Pinilla leads on transactional real estate mandates. However, former head of real estate law Martha Rico left in October 2019 to become sole practitioner.
‘This firm has knowledge and experience. They are up to date on regulatory changes, instilling confidence and strength’.
‘Each lawyer not only knows the law, but also his client and the client’s business, and this makes all the difference’.
Cementos Argos / Situm / Amarilo
Financiera Nacional de Desarrollo
Fideicomiso Lagos de Torca
Fernando Mazuera & Cía
- Advised and supported Entorno Urbano on the process of adoption of the so-called Plan Parcial Llanura de Rosablanca, regarding a piece of land of approximately 15ha in the municipality of Villavicencio.
- Advised Cementos Argos, Situm and Amarilo on seeking modification of the regulatory framework of Partial Plan El Volador, to allow the development of land, and a subsequent real estate project, on an area of urban expansion land, located in Barranquilla on Colombia’s Caribbean coast; sales value, $300m.
- Advisory to Financiera de Desarrollo Nacional during the pre-feasibility stage of a real estate project in central Bogota, and adoption of the planning instrument called ‘Plan Especial de Manejo y Protección’, to preserve the historical elements of the buildings located in the oldest part of the Colombian capital.
- Provided permanent legal advice to Fideicomiso Lagos de Torca regarding corporate, transactional and commercial law to allow it to fulfill the construction of a significant project; the advisory included drafting and preparation of agreements, legal opinions regarding duties of the trust and permanent assistance to the government board of the trust.
- Advised and supported Amarilo in the process of adoption of the so-called Plan Parcial Juanambú, regarding a piece of land of approximately 100ha in the municipality of Villavicencio.
Gómez-Pinzón Abogados (GPA)'s recommended real estate practice renders thorough advice on all fronts of the sector, fully accompanying the client throughout all stages of project development. The highly regarded Paula Samper and Felipe Mariño co-head the 'cohesive and committed' eight-strong team. Recent highlights on the transactional side saw the team advising Titularizadora Colombiana on the acquisition of three real estate projects. The urban development sub-practice worked on the zoning and urbanism licensing of two macro-projects, one including the construction of more than 4,500 housing units. The practice also handles specialised land use matters, fund formation and sector-related litigation. Senior associates María Camila Parra and Camilo Cantor are also key members of the team.
‘They are a cohesive and committed team‘.
‘The kindness and the clarity they use when explaining the arguments‘.
Sura Asset Management
Terranum Desarrollos Inmobiliario
Colegio Los Nogales
- Acted for Titularizadora Colombiana on the acquisition of three real estate projects comprising several properties, including offices owned by Banco Davivienda and Grupo Sarmiento Angulo; the advice included a due diligence process (title search and zoning regulations) and the negotiation and drafting of the acquisition documents.
- Advised Orpea and Sis, French and Belgian companies operating in the home health care service sector, on the acquisition and development of facilities in Bogotá, Cali and Medellín.
- Advised Sura Asset Management (as professional manager of Fondo de Inversion Colectiva Inmobiliaria Sura AM Rentas Inmobiliarias) on the structuring and negotiation of a real estate project for the development of a health center under a built-to-suit structure.
- Assisted Pricesmart with the company’s expansion via the acquisition of at least two new properties in Bogotá and Bucaramanga; the advisory included due diligence, title search, contingency study, opinions on the urban and construction licenses that will be needed for the development, negotiations with the sellers and the structuring of the transaction.
Led by the reputed Juan Carlos Rocha and drawing strength from the full-service firm's robust financial, corporate and tax areas, Philippi Prietocarrizosa Ferrero DU & Uría's real estate area is among the most comprehensive practice in the market. Clients include international funds and some of the country’s most seasoned investors operating within the development, retail and leisure spheres; and it handles the full array of property, real estate and urban project development, purchase and sale transactions, commercial leases, real estate finance and property management matters. With a natural inclination towards 'negotiating and closing deals', Rocha led the counsel to Anglo Gold Ashanti regarding acquisition of significant tracts of land in rural areas, for large-scale project development. Principal associate Juan Miguel Luna now leads the urban law area, after returning from his exchange programme with Uría Méndez. Senior associate Diana Lozano, who has specialised knowledge of port regulations, supports Rocha on real estate transactions.
‘One of the strengths the team has is the great knowledge that the main partner Juan Carlos Rocha has in the real estate and retail industry’.
‘About Juan Carlos Rocha, I would say that one of the great strengths is in his great sensitivity to negotiate and close deals’.
H & M
Cardenas Marketing Network
Fondo Inmobiliario Colombia
Sociedad Aeroportuaria de la Costa
Électricité de France
Grupo de Energía de Bogotá
- Advised Anglo Gold Ashanti on real estate matters in Colombia regarding the acquisition of large tracts of land in a rural area for a large-scale project; the advisory included title research on sizeable rural plots of land, drafting and negotiation of purchase agreements.
- Advised Parque Arauco on several real estate ventures in Colombia; the advisory included preparation and negotiation of contracts and advice on urban law matters.
- Advised Tecnoglass on the drafting and preparation of a master plan for a project in Galapa, Atlántico, to be built in an industrial park near to Barranquilla, where Tecnoglass and Saint Gobain are building a new glass factory.
- Advised Grupo Argos in relation to its energy projects.
Posse Herrera Ruiz's real estate, urbanism and agribusiness department receives praise for, among other matters, bringing a 'comprehensive accompaniment, with field visits and permanent advisory' and rendering interdisciplinary advice that draws strength from the full-service firm's other departments. Leading the 15-strong practice group, Andrés Montoya has over 20 years' experience in all real estate matters, including acquisitions and investments, and is also an expert in agribusiness and rural real estate law. Montoya's recent highlights include advising Camposol on the acquisition of two avocado production companies. Alejandro Turbay, who made partner in February 2020, heads up the urbanism sub-practice, and led advisory to Vidrio Andino in connection with a master plan to be presented before planning and environmental authorities. Key associate support on the urban law and regulatory side comes from Héctor Otálora.
‘Excellent team: they are always ready to work and to solve problems’.
‘Alejandro Turbay and Héctor Otálora are recommended. They are an unbeatable team, accurately fulfilling the requested work. They are kind and knowledgeable’.
‘Among several qualities, we highlight group work. No person is capable of being an expert in four or five subjects. Many problems include or have tax, brand, or environmental implications. Posse Herrera Ruiz has the strength to distribute the work among different lawyers whose specialty is different, and are able to complement each other. We highlight Alejandro Turbay’s intelligence and analytic capacity, and his ability to lead a team. We also highlight Héctor Otalora’.
‘Their legal knowledge and their willingness to meet customer requirements. Likewise, they have competitive rates in the market. Alejandro Turbay and Héctor Otálora stand out’.
‘Knowledge and concrete and timely responses. A comprehensive accompaniment, with field visits and permanent advisory’.
BTG Pactual Real Estate Fund
International Finance Corporation
Phoenix Tower International
- Advised BTG Pactual Real Estate Fund on several key transactions, notably, assisting the company with the acquisition of four complete floors comprising 11 different properties in a shopping mall; the floors were subsequently leased to UPS.
- Advised Grupo NL – through the firm’s former alliance with Cuatrecasas – on the acquisition of a real estate project to build 500 housing units with apart-hotels and a convention centre in the city of Cartagena.
- Advised IFC on the financing and real estate guarantees for a loan granted to forestry company Reforestadora del Sinú.
- Instructed by Peruvian agribusiness company Camposol to assist on the acquisition of two avocado production companies: Advocados from Colombia, and Hasspacol; the advisory included due diligence of more than 100 properties.
A top choice for real estate acquisitions, boutique Ramirez & Cardona Abogados also acts on a steady stream of real estate and industrial developments, including associated advisory on urban planning, zoning, environmental and tax matters. Founding partner José Ramón Ramírez, praised for his specialised knowledge of real estate as well as on the practical implications from a tax and corporate perspective, heads the six-strong team. With a client roster primarily composed of constructors and developers, private equity funds and manufacturers with expanding operations, a key work highlight saw Ramírez advising Credicorp Capital's Invmoval investment fund. Julián Cardona, recommended for his capacity for analysis, management and comprehension of clients' businesses, also contributes to the practice, which was strengthened in August 2019 with the hire of Diana Rodríguez, a legal director at developer Promotora Apotema, as director of corporate law.
‘Their legal knowledge in the real estate field is exceptional. We observe that the practice competently combines different sub-specialties of real estate law, and therefore, we receive adequate responses on purely transactional issues such as leases, rural, urban and construction. We also receive adequate guidance on tax issues related to our properties. Previously, another office attended us and we looked for Ramirez & Cardona for their specialty in real estate law’.
‘We believe that the firm’s lawyers combine knowledge of law with their practical application in a very appropriate way. Most of their recommendations analyse both the legal and the practical application. That is very useful’.
‘Ramírez y Cardona is one of the best firms in the country and the region in real estate matters. Their professionalism, quality and compliance make them unique in the market’.
‘Jose Ramón Ramírez is the leader of the firm and an expert in real estate, tax and corporate law. He and his team stand out for being creative, constructive, with great ability to close deals and solve problems’.
‘It is a firm “of the house” with whom we have had many years of relationship given its extensive experience in technical issues. We like their work because they are accessible and reliable, and their rates are very competitive‘.
‘Jose Ramón Ramírez is a lawyer with extensive experience in real estate and urban issues especially, however he has the ability to give comprehensive advice from related areas, for example: contractual, fiduciary, tax and commercial issues, which makes the client confident all the issues have been reviewed when facing a negotiation’.
‘Julián Cardona’s precision, capacity for analysis and management is outstanding, in addition, he is a close person who cares about understanding the business’.
American Pipe and Construction international
Arias Serna Y Saravia
Boston Andes Capital
Bogotá Beer Company
Carbones del Cerrejón
Fondo de Capital Privado Nexus Inmobiliario
Hoteles Decameron Colombia
Inversiones Inmobiliarias Bambú
- Advised Invmoval, a collective real estate investment fund managed by Credicorp Capital, on a closed agreement with Terranum for the purchase of 35% of the Connecta Business Center 26.
- Advised Nexus Inmobiliario Private Equity Fund on the acquisition of real estate assets from Banco de Bogotá valued at $130m; the firm undertook the due diligence of the real estate titles and led the negotiation of the purchase agreements.
- Advising Smurfit Kappa Cartón Colombia on the company’s expansion and renovation of its plant in Colombia; the advisory included the renewal of the planning license for the Tocancipá plant among other matters.
- Advised TC Latam on the acquisition of an interest in several projects in Colombia, valued at $35m; the advisory included leading the negotiation of partnership agreements with Constructora Normandía, Construcciones e Infraestructuras del Sur and IC Constructora.
Baker McKenzie S.A.S.
A prominent player in real estate transactions for both institutional and corporate clients, Baker McKenzie S.A.S. handles acquisitions and sales, including capital markets deals involving real estate property assets, and lease and construction agreements. The practice, led by Alejandro Mesa, has increased its urban law capabilities and recent highlights saw the team assisting Bonus Banca de Inversión on the legal structuring for an urban renewal project aiming to transform the old Bronx area of Bogotá. Clients point to strength in the financial structuring of projects developed by the five-strong team, working in synergy with the full-service firm's tax and M&A departments. Young associate Lucía Murgueytio is highlighted for her knowledge of Colombia's real estate development entities and urban and planning regulations.
‘Baker Mckenzie’s real estate law team offers comprehensive services led by the entire team, from associates to partners. For example, in structuring a project that would be the first of its kind in Colombia, where we work hand in hand with Baker, from the urban planning norms we had the advice of the real estate team, at the same time they were very proactive with the possible scheme of the transaction, where in the end as financial structuring agents, we managed to agree on a scheme very similar to the one initially proposed by the area of real estate law’.
‘We have worked hand in hand with Lucia Murgueytio, who stands out for her extensive knowledge of urban and land planning regulations. Likewise, Lucia differs from other lawyers in having extensive knowledge of the internal workings of specific real estate development entities such as urban curatorships, which allowed us to know the norm that must be followed, and also to understand each entity’s intrinsic policies and culture, from whom a permission or an authorization must be requested, which benefits the approval times and the final structuring by not having unnecessary setbacks. Similarly, Lucía stands out because of her commitment to the client, where the responsibility and compliance with the schedule lead to the achievement of consultancies efficiently, with high quality and in the planned times’.
‘In these two years we have not had a legal advisor in the real estate sector that offers a price-quality ratio of equal or better conditions, therefore, we would not recommend another office’.
Bonus Banca de Inversion
Yellowstone Capital Partners
Public Pension Investment Fund
- Assisted Amazon with a lease agreement and construction agreement for its new offices in Bogotá, Colombia.
- Assisted Bonus Banca de Inversión on the legal structuring for the Bronx urban renewal programme, a national project aimed to transform the old Bronx area of Bogotá into a cultural and creative district.
- Assisted Yellowstone Capital Partners on potential investment in real estate projects Amarilo owns.
Brigard Urrutia's muscle on the structuring and negotiation of real estate agreements, including commercial leasing, is complemented with the team's performance in urban planning and structuring of real estate projects, particularly for the hospitality and agribusiness sectors. The 12-strong department, recommended for the management of companies' deadlines and goals, provides permanent legal advice to Pei Asset Management's real estate investment trust (REIT), the first created in the country, holding $1bn in assets. Álvaro Cala, who also co-leads the firm’s corporate and M&A practice; senior associate Natalia Hernández, who focuses on urban regulations and acts as real estate practice coordinator; and associate Nathalia Arias, who is experienced in structuring investments and vehicles for the acquisition of assets, co-head the practice.
‘I would clearly say that one of the most important strengths that this firm has is the follow-up they have of the issues, the rapid response, the sense of urgency and a really clear understanding of their clients’ needs. Very good management of processes, deadlines and the goals are mostly achieved with quality and efficiency’.
‘There is good coordination between the team to appoint a specific leader choosing the right one for the right task. I feel that the delegation process is correct. I believe that the leader is always available, in constant communication with the client, good handling of the back and forth of documents with our counterparts or even inside the client’s company, good organisation and quick responses always. I would greatly emphasise the order and organisation’.
‘Their strong point is customer service. There are good channels of communication and quick response time to requests’.
‘They act comprehensively. There is good coordination between teams from different disciplines. They seek to understand the client’s needs and act accordingly’.
Patrimonio Autónomo Estrategias Inmobiliarias (PEI)
Suramérica Comercial (Dollarcity)
Bristol Myers Squibb
- Provided permanent legal advice to the REIT Patrimonio Autónomo Estrategias Inmobiliarias (managed by Pei Asset Management), on all legal aspects regarding the asset management of its 135 real estate assets, worth about $1bn; additionally the firm assisted on the acquisition of a majority percentage of ownership over six Único Outlet Malls.
- Advised Energy Competence Centre on the drafting of lease agreements templates in order to develop the company’s projects and its commercial purpose.
- Advised Goldman Sachs & Co on the drafting and negotiation of a guarantee trust to secure payment of lease instalments for a lease agreement executed over the Floridablanca Heart Institute Hospital.
UH Abogados has a broad service offering but is probably best known for its capabilities in the real estate sector where it is recognised for its notable record in construction real estate development projects, particularly in the firm's home city of Medellín and the region of Antioquia (but with an increasingly nationwide reach). Advising on all stages of project structuring and development, including negotiation of investment agreements, the practice is experienced in urbanism and agribusiness, with recent highlights including acting for producers and exporters of avocados, bananas, cannabis and flowers. Founding partners Carolina Uribe and Carlos Henao co-head the five-strong real estate area and both are expressly recommended for their negotiating skills. Associates Carolina Saldarriaga, who manages the rural and urbanistic requirements of estates, and Maria Adelaida Zapata, who joined from Posse Herrera Ruiz in March 2020 and is experienced in project structuring, are also integral members of the team.
‘They are people with negotiation skills. By their nature, legal issues lend themselves to discussions or impasses between the parties, however, this office has great ability to be a mediator without the need to grant excessive concessions to counterparties‘.
‘In areas where they do not reach, they manage to get us specialised people to carry out work‘.
‘They have an interdisciplinary team that confers them a better view to advise any business‘.
‘Carlos Henao has helped us with contacts both at the governmental and business levels’.
‘Very good negotiation capacity and recognition in the market, which make the processes very fluid. Carlos Henao’s negotiation skills and knowledge on commercial law issues, and Carolina Uribe’s negotiation capacity are highlighted‘.
Fondo Inmobiliario de Colombia (FIC)
Arquitectura y Concreto
Astorga Calle 8
CI Flores de la Vega
- Advised Fondo Inmobiliario Colombia, Constructora Colpatria and Ménsula on the legal structuring and development of the Distrito Vera real estate project in Medellín; the team also provides permanent legal advice on different legal issues that arise during the project’s development.
- Advising Grupo Cartama on its expansion plan, including companies that were incorporated by Cartama and its distribution partners located in USA and UK; the team designed a procedure for the acquisition of land and advises on land acquisitions intended for the growing and export of Hass avocados.
- Permanent advisory to Londoño Gómez on the structuring of a $400m macro-project development intended for housing, commerce, and services in the municipality of Bello, Antioquia, including the drafting and negotiation of all major agreements.
Despite its novelty, boutique firm Acosta & Gaviria Legal S.A.S (A&G Legal), founded in 2019, has developed a client roster with key national and international players in the sector. Founded by Patricia Acosta, whose experience includes time as a senior associate at the former Gómez-Pinzón Zuleta Abogados and as an in-house lawyer at Terranum, and Natalia Gaviria, previously a legal manager of Sociedad Fondo Inmobiliario, the firm specialises in the comprehensive structuring of acquisitions and projects. The partners are praised for their 'deep knowledge' of real estate law and establishing a solid relationship with their clients. Among 2019 highlights, the firm advised TC Latin America Partners on structuring real estate projects for commercial and health purposes.
‘I would describe Acosta & Gaviria as a high level legal boutique, with a very deep knowledge of real estate law’.
‘Brilliant analytical and perception skills, but also an unbelievably high emotional intelligence that ensures a very solid relationship with the client’.
Southern Bridge Capital Partners
Fondo de Capital Privado Inverlink Estructuras Inmobiliaras
Innova Capital Partners
Sociedad Fondo Inmobiliario
TC Latin America Partners
- Advised TC Latin America Partners on the structuring of real estate projects for commercial and health purposes by a health insurance company.
- Assisted Southern Bridge Capital with the investments for real estate housing projects through its private equity and debt vehicle, with which the company established platforms for the development of residential communities sharing risk with local developers.
CMS Rodríguez-Azuero acts primarily for property development companies operating in the development, retail and leisure spheres. Co-led by managing partner Juan Camilo Rodríguez and Jacques Simhon, the six-strong practice focuses on the structuring of complex private development projects through fiduciary vehicles, and also handles the full range of purchase and sale transactions and commercial leases. Associate director Andrea Zuñiga and associate Daniel Duque, members of both the corporate/M&A and real estate and construction practices of the firm, are also key team members. Since publication the team has been strengthened further with the hire of the highly experienced Carolina Lozano, formerly a vice president at Fidicuiaría Bogtotá, as counsel.
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Promotora ACR – Bastion Luxury Beach Club / La Serrezuela / Edificio 593
- Advised Promotora ACR on the legal aspects of the construction of La Serrezuela, a luxury retail centre in Cartagena.
- Advised Promotora ACR on the legal aspects of the planning and development of Edificio 593, an exclusive property located in one of the most reputed sectors of Bogotá
The team at Medellín-based Contexto Legal S.A. assists with real estate project development and also handles urban regulation and public procurement issues along with financing requirements. The practice is particularly credited for its knowledge of agribusiness-related real estate matters. Practice head Clara Uribe has over 25 years’ experience in the sector, and - in recent highlights - led advice to Immobiliare on the sale of its real estate portfolio, composed of offices in Medellín and Bogotá. Other past mandates include assisting Promotora Médica las Americas with the negotiation of the construction agreements of a high-complexity hospital in Medellín.
Correa Merino Agudelo Abogados
Medellín-based Correa Merino Agudelo Abogados' real estate, urbanism and investment trusts practice serves a notable client base of construction companies, land tenants, private investment funds and real estate agencies. Providing comprehensive advice, the seven-strong department is led by Juan Esteban Agudelo, whose expertis covers real estate holdings transactions, the structuring of real estate projects, litigation in construction and urban law, advisory to landlords and companies regarding the use of land, as well as to investment trusts in relation to the development and sale of housing, commercial, business centres and hotels projects. Senior associate María Camila Maya provides key support.
Comfama – Caja De Compensación Familiar De Antioquia
Conaltura Construcción y Vivienda
Grupo Roble / Grupo Roble de Colombia
Grupo Luz y Fuerza Colombia
Pulso Promotora Temática
Lonja de Propiedad Raíz de Medellín
- Advised Conaltura Construcción y Vivienda on the housing project Verde Vivo, which has obtained the Leed Gold ‘green building’ certification.
- Advised Cementos Argos on the drafting of the public deeds that transfer all real estate holdings from Cementos Argos to Grupo Luz y Fuerza Colombia.
Garrigues' focus on acting for private equity funds and trusts investing in real estate assets is complemented by the team's increasing experience in land acquisition and management. José Miguel De La Calle - who has extensive experience with property titles, urban permits and liaising with municipalities - heads the four-strong area. Also a key practitioner, senior associate Melissa Castro can draw on some 11 years’ experience in both private practice and as a public official; her practice is centred on public law, real estate law and litigation. Associate Catalina López completes the team.
Andean Tower Partners
Consorcio C&G La Virginia (Gobernación del Departamento del Risaralda)
- Advised Fondo de Inversión Colectiva Inmobiliario – Old Mutual on the leasing of several properties owned by the fund; the advisory involved assistance with the signing of five lease agreements for the offices in T3 – Centro Empresarial Colpatria in Bogotá, and one regarding premises located in the Antejardín building in Medellín.
- Advised Odata on the acquisition of an area in Zona Franca Metropolitana, Cota, Cundinamarca, for the development of an IT services and data processing centre.
Lloreda Camacho & Co. renders advice on the development and construction of real estate and industrial units, as well as asset purchases and sales, investment matters and commercial leasing, for an array of industries including hospitality, retail and agribusiness. Santiago Gutiérrez, who also leads the corporate and finance practice, heads a four-strong team in which senior associate Carlos Carvajal, focusing on real estate and government procurement, is also key. The practice is currently advising Comcel on the structuring, construction and commercialisation of a project involving housing, office units and retail premises in Bogotá's Plaza Claro.
Serlefin BPO & O
Flores La Aldea
- Advised Comcel on the negotiation and construction of a housing building located in Plaza Claro, Bogotá; the building is part of a wider development project comprising office and retail units.
- Advised Sercotel on real estate and corporate matters, including the structuring, drafting and negotiation of the lease agreement required for the purposes of performing its activities as a hotel operator.