How To Become A Property Developer

how to become a property developer - thumbnail

For today’s article, Edward Sykes from Renovate Alerts has kindly agreed to contribute his thoughts on how to become a property developer. It’s not rocket science, but the phrase “fail to plan and you plan to fail” applies more to development and renovation projects than perhaps any other area in the property investment industry.

* Article written in June 2014. Updated June, 2017.


  1. Introducing Edward Sykes from Renovate Alerts
  2. How to Start Property Developing
  3. How To Become A Property Developer
  4. Finding A Property
  5. The Buying Process
  6. The Renovation Process
  7. In Summary
  8. Thanks From Rob
  9. Sign Up For Our Free Course TODAY
  10. WATCH: Investing In Property For Beginners
  11. Any Questions?

Introducing Edward Sykes from Renovate Alerts

There are many ways to make money in property and many different investment strategies you could follow.

We get emails all the time from investors asking for advice on which investment strategy to go for, or which to try first.

After all, when it comes to strategy there are a lot of options to choose from – from serviced flats, buy-to-lets, HMOs, property sourcing and below market value property through to repossessions and property joint ventures.

And of course, the location is of paramount importance as well. People ask me Where should they invest (to which my answer, invariably, is that they should invest in Manchester and the North West).

One of my favourite investments strategies, however, is the classic buy-refurbish-sell strategy, better known as flipping.

Flipping property is a great way for you to build up a healthy pot of funds and move up the property ladder.

It is also one of the main entry points into working in property development.

But, it’s not quite as simple as many of the TV programmes dedicated to it make it out to be and there are often pitfalls with this strategy which get overlooked.

Becoming a successful property developer involves finding the right property deal, securing it at the right price and then project managing renovation work to keep the project in budget.

It’s a lot of work and there is plenty that can go wrong if you aren’t organised but don’t fret, this is where we can help.

If you are looking to get into property development or want to know more about how to start property developing and flipping properties as soon as possible – or, if you just want to know a little bit more about the world of property renovations – then we hope we can help you on your way.

And to that end, I am very pleased to introduce to you Ed Sykes, co-founder of who has kindly agreed to give us his candid take on getting started in property and how to start becoming a property developer.

How to Start Property Developing

– by Edward Sykes

Allow me to introduce myself. I’m Edward Sykes, one of the founders of Renovate Alerts, where we specialise in finding properties needing renovation for our subscribers.

At Renovate Alerts, we have recently celebrated our 10th anniversary, so we must be doing something right!

Our website has grown, simply because there is a scarcity of resources for people who are interested in finding properties which are suitable for renovation.

There are three of us who founded the company and we are all keen renovators. This really, is what inspired us to create the website.

How To Become A Property Developer

If you are prepared to put in the work, being a property developer can be very rewarding and can enable you to jump up the property ladder, a couple of rungs at a time.

I have been doing this since 2000 and with my next purchase, I aim to be in the family house of my dreams, with no mortgage. Property nirvana indeed!

Being a property developer is a perfectly attainable goal for anyone with a bit of get up and go.

It is not rocket science.

But it does require resolve, perseverance, hard work and other boring but important qualities.

Oh, and a bit of luck doesn’t go amiss.

So, the four things we are going to talk about in this section are:

  1. Finance
  2. Understanding The Local Housing Market
  3. Property Refurbishment Costs
  4. Negotiating With Estate Agents

1. Finance

The first thing you have to do is work out your budget.

How are you going to raise finance for the property? How much money can you get together for a deposit? How big a mortgage can you sustain?

You need to work out your budget for the rennovation.

If you are anticipating knocking down walls and adding extensions, then you need to find a friendly builder and ask him for estimates.

2. Understanding The Local Housing Market

Next, you need to get to grips with the local housing market by researching market prices for your chosen area and you want to be getting to grips with the types of property there are as well.

Zoopla is pretty much the king of pricing information these days, although there are other websites that will do just as well.

However, nothing quite beats talking to local estate agents on the ground. Their information will be more up-to-date and accurate than anything on the web.

Use the web and use local knowledge together to turbo-charge your search.

Time and effort are very worthwhile at this stage, so be sure to do your due diligence.

Taking your time with your research could save you from making a costly mistake.

3. Property Refurbishment Costs

You need to think hard about your estimated, renovation costs.

Remember, these are more likely than not to increase.

I have hardly ever heard of anyone coming in under budget and it is wishful thinking if you think that you might.

On my first renovation, I budgeted £30,000 and ended up spending £80,000.

A hard lesson to learn!

4. Negotiating With Estate Agents

There is a lot to dealing with estate agents when you’re buying a house.

More than I can go into here.

But, be aware that agents take a buyer with prepared finances more seriously than if they haven’t got them.

Even in a quiet market, they will have a list of people they will pick up the ‘phone to first when a property comes on the market.

They have their “hot buyers”. And this is what you want to be.

In all of this, the golden rule to remember is that your purchase price, plus renovation costs, should not exceed the ceiling price for the street.

The ceiling price is the most a property will ever sell for on a particular street, even if it has the most amazing interior.

Finding A Property

How To Become A Property Developer. Finding a property

There are many ways of finding a property and you need to deploy as many of them as you are able to be sure of success.

The very best of these methods are covered in the Property Investments UK Training Course.

But a handful, to get you started are:

  1. Estate Agents
  2. Property Auctions
  3. The Internet
  4. Private Sales Websites
  5. Leafleting
  6. Property Sourcing Agents

1. Estate Agents

Love ‘em or hate ‘em, they are an indispensable part of the property buying process, and you would be a fool to ignore them entirely.

Local agents have a supreme knowledge of the area and it is well worth getting them onside.

Kirsty and Phil (of Location, Location, Location TV fame) reckon that 50% of a successful property purchase is down to having friendly relations with the relevant estate agent.

They Hold The Power.

2. Property Auctions

In truth, I have not tried using property auctions myself.

I have always been a bit scared about the bidding process.

Also, you stand to get your fingers burnt, say, if you manage to buy a property with serious structural problems because you have not surveyed it beforehand.

However, there are undoubted bargains to be found at property auctions, if you know what you are doing.

One suggested tactic is to wait towards the end of an auction when most serious buyers will have already spent their money.

To Read More About Buying Property At Auction See:

3. The Internet

Of course, the Internet is a useful tool.

Use it wisely and it is a massively powerful source of information that would otherwise be closed off to you.

Our website finds renovation opportunities across the UK at rate of about 500 per day.

We then collate this information and send it to our subscribers in a daily email.

To achieve the same results, manually, would take hours, so it is a useful timesaving device.

Renovate Alerts screen shot

4. Private Sales Websites

Private sales websites are becoming increasingly prevalent and we run this function ourselves. However, they have yet to take off in a big way.

5. Leafleting

Property sourcing with leaflets is something my wife and I are considering ourselves.

Essentially, if you are particularly keen on a certain area with a few streets and there is nothing on the market, you can leaflet buildings you are interested in.

However, you may end up paying more as a result.

property sourcing leaflet example

6. Property Sourcing Agents

If you would rather that someone else did all the hard work, then you could try property sourcing agents

They charge a percentage to find your perfect property for you. It’s easier, to go to a property sourcer but it eats into your profit margin.

Want To Read More About Sourcing Property?

We have another article you might be interested in on how to go about sourcing property fast.

In there we cover:

  1. Buying Property At Auction
  2. Working With A Property Sourcer
  3. Property Crowdfunding
  4. Investing In Repossessed Property

The Buying Process

Negotiating the right price for the house is key to the buying process.

Anyone who has watched The Apprentice will know that one of the core lessons is that it is easier to buy than it is to sell.

But in a rising market the ‘rulebook’ seems to go out of the window, it’s easy to get carried away on price.

To counter this, have a clear idea of your budget – how much will everything cost? And, having added the value to the property, how much do you hope to sell for at the end of the project?

Build in a profit margin for accidents and do not exceed your buying budget unless you can afford to sit on the property until it is back in profit, should the market goes pear-shaped.

Make sure you commission a survey of the house you are buying.

The Three Types Of Survey

From the cheapest and simplest to the more expensive and comprehensive, the three types of survey are:

  1. The Condition Report
  2. The Homebuyer Report
  3. The Building Survey

Money well spent if you do not want to be hit by any hidden surprises.

Once you have found the right property for you, then take the leap of faith and JUMP!

The Renovation Process

The old saying “fail to plan and you plan to fail” rings true here.

Do you know where each light switch is going to be placed? Do you know which lights it turns on? Do you know what the lights are (halogens / LEDs etc)? Do you know how much the switches cost and when they will arrive?

You need to be on top of the project to this level of detail.

If you keep changing or adding to the plan, then the tradesmen will inevitably, and not unreasonably, keep adding to the price for the extra work involved.

The greatest amount of profit in a renovation is where you can add extra space to an existing house.

For example, converting a loft into an extra bedroom with an en-suite is one of the most cost-effective ways of making money out of a house.

However, if you are carrying out structural work then you need to consider whether you are going to hire a project manager and/or an architect to supervise the works.

Or maybe, you are capable of carrying out this task yourself.

Obviously, if you hire extra people, this represents an extra cost too.

One advantage of finding a project manager is that he will usually come with a roster of reliable tradesmen that he has used in the past.

If not, you need to find this workforce for yourself.

There are now several “trusted tradesmen” type websites in existence (eg

Word to the wise, however, these websites can be far from foolproof.

Before starting work you need to check you are complying with the relevant building and planning regulations.

It is always worth a visit to your local council planning department if you are in doubt.

My project manager was ex-army. His view was that once the plans are in place, there is no alternative but to “attack, attack, attack!” And stick at it until you’re done.

In Summary

Sarah Beeny, the queen of renovators (bring back Property Ladder!), once said:

“there are no guarantees in the property business. It’s not always a win-win situation, and I’m not sure it ever was.”

Sage words, and worth bearing in mind to keep the cold towel of reality wrapped around your head.

However, if you do your research properly, keep a tight grip on the finances, and put your heart and soul into the project, then you should come up smiling.

Good Luck And Just Go For It!

Thanks From Rob

That was a great insight. Thanks, Ed!

I hope you found the article helpful.

If you’re just getting started on your journey to becoming a property developer, I’d love to help.

So, if you’ve any questions or just want to chat then don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Sign Up For Our Free Course TODAY

Sign up for our free online property training course today.

In there we cover a range of different property strategies to help you get started on building a long-term property portfolio or creating a cash flowing property business.

We also look at ways to increase your return on investment with any of the properties you may be considering and we also have a couple of cheat sheets and downloadable documents.

Just click the image below to join our free training course today.

WATCH: Investing In Property For Beginners

We have also put together a FREE 1.5 hr webinar on how to get started in property and find deals right now on your doorstep which you can watch here.

Or, if you prefer to read rather than watch you can access the full transcript here

Any Questions?

If you have any questions or thoughts on how to become a property developer then leave them in the comments section below.

Alternatively, you can get in touch via our Facebook page.

We’d love to hear from you and as always we’re happy to help.

Related Posts:

A Landlord’s Guide To Energy Efficient Improvements 10 Reasons to Become an Energy-Efficient Landlord. The last thing on most landlords’ minds is how green their rental properties are. Surely the money is better spent putting money down on another ...
How To Turn Houses In Need Of Renovation In To A Personal Cash Machine Now the property market is showing signs of growth again, property refurbishments are back in vogue, and houses in need of renovation can make an appealing option as your next project... I've d...
Discover Why Edwardian Houses Make The Ideal Property To Renovate Since I started in property back in 2005, I've always been fascinated by the wonderful range of different property styles each with their own corresponding history. Gothic, Victorian and Tudor have...
Which Houses Offer The Best Property Development Opportunities? When it comes to property development, often the focus is very much on simply picking the right area. The old adage of location...location...location is widely used for a very good reason, but once...
Early 20th Century Housing – A Sound Property Development Business Plan? Over the years ex-council properties and 1930’s style housing have remained a steady bet for the modern buy-to-let investor and property developer. When compared to some more modern housing the...

Leave a Reply