Pursuing a career in property development

There’s a good scene in The Sopranos where Tony Soprano is advised to “buy land, because God ain’t making any more of it.” Ignore the mafia undertones of The Sopranos and you’ve actually got yourself a very good piece of advice.

Property development is big business. However, it’s not quite as simple as buying a block of land and chucking a house on it. There’s an awful lot more to it than that.

Property development plays a very important part in today’s society. For instance, a property developer may rebuild a decrepit block of flats, which could potentially house people who would have otherwise been living on the streets.

The property development industry incorporates a range of careers, from people who subdivide land to those who get into the business of renovating and knocking down buildings, before rebuilding them and selling them on. You could work freelance or for a larger company, like Taylor Wimpey or Redrow.

How to become a property developer

Property development is definitely one of those industries where you need to walk the walk as much as you talk the talk. You’ll have to be a confident communicator to succeed. Being able to negotiate land prices and construction costs is also a key part of a property developer’s everyday life, so you’ll need to have strong commercial acumen and a canny eye for good deals.

For trainee property developers, there aren’t any degrees or other academic qualifications that are absolutely necessary, but a business-related degree wouldn’t hurt your chances of getting a permanent role with a major company. More often than not, though, candidates join property development companies straight from school, before learning the ropes and eventually moving into more senior positions.

What does a property developer do?

A lot of property developers make their money from studying the property market and capitalising on any opportunities that arise. Research is absolutely key. For this reason, a lot of your time will be spent studying the market, visiting various locations around the UK (and possibly further afield, depending on your role) and discussing valuations with surveyors and architects.

The key is to try and find an area that’s going through a period of growth. This could be absolutely anywhere, but if the demand is there and the population is expanding, people will need homes and offices.

Once you’re happy with the particular plot of land you want to build on, or the building you wish to reconstruct, you’d need to secure planning permission from the government. This can be very time-consuming and may sometimes involve seeking expert advice from property lawyers.

How else can I get into property development?

We briefly mentioned the prospect of working outside the UK. This is becoming more and more popular, where property developers will look to take advantage of a particularly lucrative housing market abroad. Property developers might even buy properties abroad, reconstruct them and sell them on as hotels or holiday apartments.

Away from the responsibilities of the actual property developer, there are a couple of other positions we can tell you about. For instance, if you work for a housing development company, you might get the opportunity to work in the sales and marketing department. Alternatively, you even could be based on site, where you’ll be responsible for showing people around properties and keeping everything looking shipshape in show houses.

If you’ve got a sharp eye for a deal, or a sharp suit and a blinding smile, think you’d be a properly good property developer or you’re a demon with a demolition ball, a career in the property development sector might be a good place to build yourself up!

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