As featured on: Property Observer
The Seven Different Types of Property Developers
1. THE BACK OF THE UTE DEVELOPER – This type of developer is typically a former or current tradesman who has a lot of mates who will help out with the build job. Pricing and feasibilities are very flexible and tough to pin down, which makes financiers nervous; bankers much prefer firm construction quotes from a recognised firm. As we all know, the biggest cost risk associated with a development is construction, so it’s important to get this right.
The market generally allows for a 5% contingency in construction costs, but sometimes banks insist on a higher % if they are concerned about the builder, any specialisation involved, the quote or issues raised by the QS report. Banks are always cautious about the potential for costs overruns, and we often hear the question “how is the Developer going to fund any cost overruns?” The back of the ute developer often has issues in these areas but there are solutions if you know how to package the deal and where to look.
2. THE EXTENDED FAMILY DEVELOPER – Sometimes we see developers who comprise an extended family with varying levels of experience. Often the kids have inherited their parent’s property(s), which are located in a development hotspot, and the family agree that they will band together and try to develop the project themselves, rather than sell the site to a developer. Potentially this can be a recipe for disaster with emotions and other motivation outweighing pragmatism.
Whenever the extended family group gets together, the lack of a cohesive goal and the competing motivations make achieving a quick resolution difficult and generally speaking, these types of developments lacking a clear and concise plan, combined with an inability to make quick decisions translate into disasters. The extended family developer is hard going for all the obvious reasons and their project rarely achieves its full potential without a preparedness to compromise and work with the right advisers.
3. THE PHOENIX DEVELOPER – We are currently seeing a prolific return of phoenix developers who were very successful developers pre-GFC, entered into somewhat rapid declines during the GFC due to unfortunate dealings with their creditors but are now rising again Phoenix-like. Typically this type of developer is very experienced, but unfortunately misjudged both the state of the market and their level of exposure to it during the GFC. Now they are back out there trying to do deals again, but with limited equity. These guys know what they are doing, and are full of confidence and unlikely to make the same mistakes, for now. They are more conservative with their own limited capital and are looking for equity partners to leverage their position and are moving forward using their experience and contacts to good advantage. They will most likely be successful in the coming years.
4. THE $1,000 OPTION FEE DEVELOPER – These guys are always out there pounding the pavement trying to tie up development sites for a very small option fee over an extended period. If they manage to convince the vendor to agree to this strategy, they then have to work out how to develop the site with limited or no equity or take a fee for selling it on to someone who can deliver on it. A challenge indeed!
We know of a number of high net worth investors who will assist these would be Developers by providing the required equity shortfall, but they need to be prepared to give away a good chunk of the profit, to reflect their real level of risk/reward.
5. THE SECOND GENERATION DEVELOPER – “Dad was a developer, so I’m a developer”. Hopefully dad was a successful developer and taught them well. If so, their chances of success are pretty good. Property development is a pretty tough business and a sound knowledge of the industry is a key advantage, but just because you’re a second-generation developer doesn’t guarantee success. It can make it somewhat easier, especially on the equity side of things! The smart second generation developer learns from their father’s mistakes, and expands on their successes.
6. THE “KNOW IT ALL” DEVELOPER – The know it all cant be told. They are an eternal optimist and believe that all property developments will work, regardless of the market, location or type of development if they are doing it. They also don’t need to do the proper research or employ specialist consultants who could assist with the development, especially in its formative stages. This type of developer don’t need help on any level and believe that property development is easy (for them at least), and a way of providing a top up to their superannuation fund/lifestyle. It’s important to understand that property development is a skill, and just because you have been successful in other areas of business, doesn’t necessarily translate to becoming a successful property developer. This type of Developer can also be likened to “The Debut Developer” or “The Genius” and the “Dreamer Developer”.
7. THE CAUTIOUS DEVELOPER – The cautious developer is the one who identifies risk up front and finds ways to mitigate these as much as possible. This type of developer believes that the success of each development is based on the success of their risk management plan. They also realise that they don’t know everything, and won’t hesitate to utilise the skills of others, where there is a gap in their knowledge and skills base. In reality, they are the “Smart Developer” and we love working with them because we know they will be doing deals for a long time to come.
In summary, our experience has indicated that the most successful property developments are those who:
- Have a robust risk management plan;
- Have employed the relevant experts to undertake specialist reports where necessary;
- Have put a sound marketing plan in place;
- Have properly researched the market, price point and location of their product;
- Are experienced and knowledgeable in what they are doing;
- Have engaged a reputable builder with sound financials and a strong track record.