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Real estate developers are entrepreneurs who find and buy land and finance real estate deals that develop the land and any resulting projects (commercial malls, housing developments, etc.) on that land. They create and control real estate developments from start to finish, taking the greatest risks, but reaping the greatest rewards. They also buy real estate and make improvements to existing buildings. You can make highly lucrative profits, or suffer crushing losses. It’s not a career choice for the weak at heart.


Real estate investment is a very risky business, but the payoff is equally great if your development is a success. That doesn’t mean you take outrageous risks, however. Take calculated ones and work smart, not hard.

“Find a good location for what you’re planning to develop, in an area that is easy to zone and obtain permits. You can find out your best options by using an experienced real estate attorney who knows the legal landscape of the community in which you plan to develop. Renovating or razing one property, but sticking with the same or similar use on the same “building footprint” eliminates permitting, saves time, and limits your costs and expenses,” he said. “Make time to do a good feasibility study too.”

A feasibility study is comprised of an analysis of the market, the location of the property, your use, the underlying zoning, demographics, the competition and the amount of risk involved in the project along with a projected return on your investment (ROI). That information is what you and your team will use to decide whether to move forward or not.

Research, Research, Research

“Before committing time and money to a project, find out if it’s a project worth pursuing and don’t be afraid to say no. Decisions based on your enthusiasm of the project can often shield you from good common sense,” he said. Intuition is sometimes helpful but successful real estate development takes research. Your preliminary research should include potential legal, economic, financial and technological challenges.

Buy Smart

“Protect yourself during the buying process by making yourself conscious of all the things you’ll need to have in place to develop the property,” Pellegrini said. “For instance, if you want a piece of property, make your offer contingent on obtaining all zoning and land use permits that will be required. You don’t want to waste time and money on a piece of property you can’t develop to your specifications.”

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