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By Bruce Burkitt

Founder, Property Experts

OTHER FEATURES

Making the transition from estate agency to property development

Property developing is an incredibly diverse and exciting career choice, and something that many people aspire to do in the UK. 

I would like to offer some guidance on how those working within the property industry can achieve the tricky transition into making property development their sole source of income.

I began working as an estate agent straight after I left school. I was drawn to the industry as the idea of selling people their largest asset and the fact that every home I sold would be different really appealed to me. 

Additionally, every estate agent seemed to have great financial security and an affluent lifestyle, which as an impressionable 16-year-old really drew me in.

I quickly became the top performer in my 300-branch agency, and then opened my own agency in my early twenties. Dealing with a high volume of varied transactions exposed me to every facet of the property industry.

From the art of valuing and negotiating to dealing with structural issues and legal complications, I got to see it all.  I didn’t realise it at the time, but these invaluable lessons and experiences turned out to be my apprenticeship in development.

Over the next three years, I concentrated on building the agency, developing a management portfolio and opening more offices. Despite this success I craved more.

Coming into contact with developers on an almost daily basis allowed me to witness the satisfaction of taking a run-down property and transforming it into somebody’s dream home. This quickly made me realise that becoming a developer was my new ambition. I was already earning good money but could see that there was serious money to be made.

With my eyes firmly on the prize, I set about spending as much time as possible, including days off, on building sites. I recognised that I needed to learn about construction, design and everything involved in taking a scheme to market.

Most importantly, I realised I had to learn about planning, as this skill was key to unlocking the profit in a deal. This experience is something I would strongly recommend to aspiring property developers.

Having acquired a basic understanding of the process, I started identifying potential sites for conversion, new build and refurbishment. Introducing these opportunities to my developer contacts allowed me to make and save a substantial sum – enough money to get me started.

Although I knew I had the ability to find and develop larger sites, I had to start small and acquired an off market two-bedroom maisonette in need of refurbishment as my first deal. With a flair for design and the basic understanding of planning, I started remodelling one-bedroom flats into two-beds and splitting one flat into two.

It wasn’t long until I had the confidence and finances to take on large conversion projects and the rest is now history. With over 700 units built and converted so far and my passion for the job is still undiminished!

Other than the necessary funding and the ability to negotiate, anyone considering a career in property development should possess a keen eye and creative knack for recognising potential opportunities. A working knowledge gained from being involved in any aspect of the property industry will always assist.

For those who are curious about becoming a property developer working as an estate agent is an excellent foundation, not dissimilar to that of a traditional degree.

Work hard, learn everything you can and always ask questions of your peers. When you identify the right deal the hardest step in the transition will be obtaining funding or finding a backer,

As well as being a property entrepreneur, I also offer mentoring and guidance for individuals wanting to become property developers.

*Bruce Burkitt is founder and managing director at Property Experts

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