The number one secret to making really big profits from property development is to understand that everything starts with Land. I realised that a very long time ago so made it my goal to get myself a job as a land buyer with a major developer and gain the hands-on experience that I knew I needed from doing big deals.
To get that job I studied for a long time and eventually became a chartered planning & development surveyor, but I also watched and listened to everything that was done by the most successful people in the field. By far the most successful, and the person I still most admire in business today, is Tony Pidgley, chairman of the Berkeley Group plc. In my opinion, Berkeley are the best of the major residential and mixed-use developers and they're certainly the most consistently profitable. The main reason is that Tony Pidgley is the very best land buyer in the business.
When Berkeley Homes was founded in 1976 it initially focused on the construction of single homes and small executive developments, completing bigger and better projects as it grew whilst doing astute land deals along the way. Just a couple of the very clever deals that Tony Pidgley has done include setting up St James in 1996 through a joint venture with Thames Water and St William in 2014, a new joint venture with National Grid. You can only imagine how much land Thames Water and National Grid control. I tell you all of this only to emphasis the fact that to be the very best you really need to understand land.
How to profit from land
Firstly then, to clarify the term 'land', the legal definition of land means the actual land (i.e. soil, ground and earth) plus any buildings on the land, fixtures attached to the land, mines, minerals and airspace above. Although land includes farms and fields, as a general rule development land will most likely be brownfield, that is, land that has been previously developed and possibly still has existing buildings on all or part of it.