Top Tips for Your First Property Development Project

Jacking in the nine to five and setting up a property development business has become a dream for many people, thanks to television programmes like Grand Designs and prominent figures like Sarah Beeny. But, this dream becomes a reality for just a small number of determined women each year.

However, the coronavirus pandemic has allowed us to reassess our lives and priorities. Do we really want to lose hours each day commuting to work? Are we happy putting in extra hours to help someone else’s business succeed? Or would we rather build our own empires, work when and where we choose and only pick the projects we enjoy? 

Female-run businesses still account for a small percentage of the total, but they have grown 18% in the last five years, much faster than male-run businesses. In the property industry, women now make up almost half of the UK’s landlords. So, if you’re tempted to join the growing number of female property entrepreneurs and try your hand at property development, check out these top tips for making your first project a success.

Do Your Research

Before you spend a penny or sign anything, make sure that you thoroughly research your new business idea. Do you have the skills of a successful property developer? And if not, are these skills you can quickly pick up?

When you’ve established that property development is an excellent fit for you, it’s time to research the local market. What type of properties are available? Which ones are the most popular (and sell the fastest)? Is there a strong buy-to-let market, or would you be better off focussing on fixing up and selling on (“flipping”) run-down properties? This research will also help you to set a budget for your first project. Don’t rely solely on internet research; get out in your target area and walk around the neighbourhoods. Can you spot a potential goldmine in an up-and-coming area?

Get Some Professional Business Advice

Successful businesses are built on the foundation of a robust business plan. If you’re new to the property sector or you’ve never set up a business before, seeking professional advice and support in the planning stage will pay off in the long term. It may seem like an expensive outlay when you haven’t even started making money, but without a solid plan that sets out your goals, timelines, budget and financing, you could fall at the first hurdle. 

There are free resources online that you can use to start drafting a plan and shaping your business. Once you’ve done some research and brainstorming, take your draft to a professional who can help you flesh it out and ensure that nothing important has been missed. An expert adviser may also give you ideas or make you aware of possibilities that you were unaware of, such as funding options. 

Don’t Be Scared to Outsource Key Services 

Whether you’re a complete novice or a seasoned property developer, outsourcing key services is essential for hitting project milestones, achieving high-quality standards and avoiding burnout. You can’t be an expert in all aspects of property development — plumbing, decorating, marketing, public relations, and a whole lot more! The developer’s main role is to identify prime opportunities, negotiate, plan, manage the budget and ensure that the project is completed on time. Although you could outsource many of these tasks, should you choose to?

When you’re starting out, there’s a good chance that you won’t have a huge budget for hiring staff. You may also be wary of relinquishing control. But partnering with experts is key to the success of your first project (and all those that come after it). Communicating, networking and negotiating are essential skills for property developers. Start building a network of reliable contacts from day one, and this will put you in the best position to build a lucrative long-term career.

Set clear goals and write a list of all the skills required to complete the project on time and on budget. Identify any gaps in your skills and seek out experts who can provide these services. Remember, development is not just about building or renovating homes. You need to sell them too! Investing in services that will make it easier for people to buy from you, such as house part-exchange schemes and professional marketing, will help you sell fast and move on to the next development.     

Invest in Marketing Your Properties

There is a lot of competition in the property development industry. Building a beautiful home is only half the battle. You need to make your development stand out from the competition. Whether you’re selling or renting, one house or twenty, creating an effective marketing strategy will pay dividends. 

Your approach will depend on the type of development you’re managing. Large-scale new build developments are typically sold off-plan, so you’ll need to put a lot of thought into how to convince buyers to part with their cash for a home that hasn’t been built yet. This might mean building show houses and paying for professional floor plans to be drawn up, or even using advanced virtual reality technology to allow potential buyers the opportunity to “walk through” their new home. Suppose your first development project is on a smaller scale, for example, renovating and selling a single property. In that case, you’ll still need to establish a strong online presence that instills trust in your company. 

Property development can be an exciting and lucrative career if you build strong foundations by researching, planning and establishing a reliable network of contacts. The property industry needs more women. Are you up to the challenge?