Whether you are an experienced property developer or just starting out in the business, the most important thing you need to do is to make sure you have suitable land. This can be particularly challenging – recent research from the NHBC found that three quarters of small developers found the lack of available land their biggest obstacle.

Finding the right plot of land is just as difficult, maybe even more so, than finding the perfect house. The ideal plot must be well located with decent access, free of contamination, ideally not on greenbelt* and for sale at a reasonable price. Land such as this is out there – but tracking it down can be a challenge. If you’re planning a long career in property development you’ll need to be thinking about your next project and keep the new plots coming.

So what is the best way to find the perfect plot?

Estate agents, land agents and auctions – finding land the traditional way

Traditional land finding methods include through estate agents, auctions, land agents and local government sales. All of these methods can be very effective if you put in the work. Estate agents usually have preferred developers and breaking in to become one of these can be hard. We suggest introducing yourself/your business and showing how you can offer agents value.  Land agents can be very helpful – but it’s important to remember they charge up to 3% of the purchase price when working out your margins. If you are looking for land at auction do your research first – check the plot, run the numbers and speak to the auctioneer. You may be able to do a deal before the auction even takes place.

It’s not what you know… the importance of networking

Meeting people, making contacts and staying on people’s radar is vital when you’re trying to buy land. Opportunities arise that never come to the market, or that you can find out about before they arrive – if you know the right people and they know you.

Specialist property portals – the next big thing?

Residential property giants Rightmove and Zoopla are familiar to every UK resident who has bought a house in the past decade but if you’re looking for land it is better to use a specialist portal, such as Developing Spaces, which focuses on land and development opportunities only. You can network with agents, sellers and industry experts as well as browse the opportunities available – you might just find your perfect plot without having to leave the house.


*It is not necessarily impossible – we will be writing more about development on greenbelt sites soon

Post by Katherine Aiken

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