Entering into real estate development can oftentimes be daunting. Real estate development comes with its own challenges. Still, with a good plan of action, a network of verified specialists and a good understanding of what is required of the developer, it is not an impossible market to break into.
Having a list of essential tools for real estate developments at your disposal in order to search site’s adequately, assist you in due diligence etc. is proven to be invaluable. In this article, we are about to explore the essential tools for real estate developments.
These tools include websites, Apps, software, research tools, calculators, architecture tools, surveying tools, engineering tools, communication tools, marketing tools, financial tools… etc.
Before diving into the Essential Tools for Real Estate Developments; however, a good understanding of real estate development is needed.
What is Real Estate Development?
Real estate development is the facilitation of construction or reconstruction of buildings in order to make a profit. Most times, the process begins by finding a piece of land with the intention of subdividing it to smaller land parcels and then building specific structures on them.
Structures can be residential, commercial or industrial, depending on the needs of the surrounding population and the zoning of the land. But, real estate development is multi-faceted and incorporates all or some of the following processes.
- Financing the project
- Site acquisition
- Arranging third party contractors
- Building design
- Supervising construction
- Asset management
Most of the time, real estate developers are entrepreneurs who take on the financial risk of purchasing and developing the land. Money, most times, is only made at the end of the project and is based on the market value of the finished properties built on site.
Tools for Finding a Site to Develop
Finding a piece of land to begin development is often one of the longest processes.
Due diligence is required to be certain that the property is exactly what is needed for the property developers requirements and plans.
For those wanting to cut costs from the very start, or who enjoy browsing through various sites and don’t mind the extra time it takes to set up alerts and notifications on various websites there are plenty of options.
Of course, these tools are going to save heaps of time opposed visiting sites physically.
Let’s see our favourite go-to tools.
1. Price Finder
Price Finder offers a comprehensive snapshot of all relevant information on a specific address. Prospecting is made easy with a list of real estate agents and mortgage brokers. The website also incorporates data-driven research to assist real estate property developers in identifying new real estate opportunities along with other comprehensive risk management tools.
The site is incredibly comprehensive, and by creating an account, almost every tool required for the beginning stages of real estate development can be found in one place.
The Pricefinder comes at a cost, though.
2. Google Earth
Google Earth is 100% free and can prove to be invaluable when finding a site to develop. Using the website or App allows real estate developers to look in directly to a piece of land using the GPS coordinates. Because most undeveloped sites do not have a registered street address this can offer a useful insight for those wanting to purchase remotely.
Lots can be measured online with integrated distance measurement tools which allow potential buyers to see the dimensions of the property from the relevant boundaries.
The polygon tool can be used to draw boundary lines of the area selected digitally. These parcel lines can be used to envision how and where each parcel of land could be located.
Google Earth also allows satellite imagery dating back several years, meaning that a good idea of the property and its surrounding can be researched.
Topography and terrain can also be viewed and researched giving real estate developers a good idea on elevation, valleys or any other significant natural structures which could hinder the development of structures.
3. RP Data by CoreLogic
CoreLogic, formerly known as RP Data, is the largest provider of property information and property risk management solutions in Australia.
It is providing up to date property data and analytics from a database of over four billion decision points. The site collects comprehensive property and mortgage databases at only the highest quality. Properties are independently valued, making it easy to access the information required to finance a project. Complex data is simplified for real estate developers through CoreLogic’s web-based solutions packages.
Some of the services offered include;
- Securitised collateral risk management
- Residential and commercial valuation management
- Due diligence tools
- Property information
- Property research tools
- Real estate listings portals
- Automated valuation model (AVM) solutions
- Property transaction data
4. Council Zoning Sites
Making use of the local council zoning sites allows real estate developers to access information on government special data and services.
Searching the various sites will provide a massive amount of data on road and satellite base map information.
Some of the more than one and sixty layers of information include;
- Development pan zoning
- Land division and boundaries applications
- Government area boundaries (local)
- Individual property boundaries
- Heritage sites
Zoning maps of each Australian State and Territories are below.
South Australia (SA)
New South Wales (NSW)
Western Australia (WA)
Tools for Due Diligence and Financial Feasibility Analysis
Feasibility Analysis and due diligence for real estate developers need to be accurate and ongoing, and although a developer shouldn’t waste too much time on their initial analysis, it is an ever-developing document that will require some investment of time and money.
By employing due diligence and feasibility tools that are made available online, a lot of time can be saved for the real estate developer.
EstateMaster’s property solutions software allows real estate developers the tools to enable them to complete accurate feasibility analysis and due diligence reports easily. The website offers numerous software solutions for various stages and roles within property development. For real estate developers, efficient project appraisals can be done at the groundwork stage of the project.
The software is extremely user-friendly and allows developers more time to work on delivering their project. Integrated cash flow monitoring shows potential for any cash flow overruns and ensures that developers are easily able to adjust their spend. Their business plan templates and due diligence reports are designed with financing in mind. This means developers can go into financier meetings with confidence.
2. Eloquens Free Tools
For example, Real Estate Professional Developer’s Excel Tool Kit which downloadable from eloquens.com.
For those more experienced property developers, the internet is littered with templates that can be modified to each specific users needs. Beware though that when searching for feasibility analysis templates that major information is not missing or that information that is specific to your area is included.
The advantage, of course, is that these templates are usually fully customizable and are either free or come at a minimal cost. Although more time may be needed to set up initially.
Tools for Purchasing Sites vs Controlling Site Ownership Until Authority Permits Granted
While purchasing a site outright is sometimes the best option for real estate property developers, controlling site ownership is also an option where there is uncertainty about land’s development potential. Property Option agreements are put in place to allow the buyer to sell their property on a pre-approved date in the distant future and at a pre-agreed price. Controlling site ownership, however, does come with some risks and knowing which tools to use for both options is important for developers.
1. Net LawMan
Netlawman.com.au offers numerous contracts online that are downloadable for those wanting to enter into a property option agreement. Their agreements are solicitor approved, written in plain English, are editable and offer a full money-back guarantee if they breach any terms or Australian laws.
LawDepot.com offers a huge variety of Real Estate contract for real estate developers spanning every stage of the development process. Account creation is quick and easy while contracts are promised to be delivered within 5 minutes of answering a few questions. The site is secure and verified so that the developer’s payment remains safe.
3. Your Attorney
For those not wanting to go the do it yourself route, attorneys and conveyancers can be hired to draw up the necessary contracts. Appointing a law firm may be the more expensive route to begin with. Ultimately, regardless of whether the developer is purchasing the site or controlling site ownership, conveyancing services will be required.
Although in our opinion developers newly entering the market should always appoint a trusted attorney, rather than go the DIY route.
Tools for Applying to the Local Authority Permits for Development
Every council and municipality has its own set of regulations and laws which need to be followed in order for the development of land to occur. From planning permits to develop on land to zoning licenses which stipulate the type of development that is allowed and overlaying zoning regulations, online tools are essential. Without applying to the local council, real estate development cannot happen, and invested land stands the risk of standing as an empty lot forever.
1. Various council and municipal websites
Most, all Australian councils come equipment with comprehensive websites that will allow real estate developers the relevant information they require about the zoning and other permits that are needed for a specific piece of land. Although going online is essential it certainly will ease the amount of leg work.
Most councils allow forms to be downloaded from their site, whilst others will tell you which information is required when visiting the council offices. Used hand in hand with dotid (discussed below), population information, history and topographical information should be made much easier.
home.id.com.au is a comprehensive online database with links back to local councils. Over 250 Australian and New Zealand councils subscribe to dotid.
Dotid provides information in the form of population expertise and demographic information. Users are offered a far greater insight into their potential purchase, and the zoning laws slash permit laws for the area.
Tools for Acquiring Finance
For those not able to finance their real estate development themselves, finance will need to be secured. The internet offers a plethora of information, calculators and various other tools in order not only to calculate what finance is required but also which financiers are willing to look at that particular portfolio. Real estate property developers will need to remember that residential, commercial and industrial finance all differs wildly, and different institutions will need to be approached.
Our recommendation is to start with a reputable mortgage broker, but never to approach financial institutions independently as a beginner developer. This is because every time if you approach a bank they will run a credit check where the inquiry will be recorded in your credit file ultimately lowering your credit score. However, through a mortgage broker, you can easily compare the lending market for deals with the use of one credit check.
Here are a few reputable Australian mortgage broker companies.
1. Aussie Home Loans
Aussie Home Loans offers residential developers a large amount of information. From informative blog posts to home loan calculators, forms and a large FAQ section. The information provided is simplified, which is not a bad thing for the first time or smaller developers who are dipping their toe into the real estate development industry.
Keep in mind though that home loans are only available to those wanting to build a certain amount of properties. Any development plans over four units will require a commercial loan.
2. Rams Financial Group
Rams is a comprehensive online full-service residential property development financing website. With an incredibly informative blog, first time and experienced developers to keep up to date with what is happening in the market. Their home loan calculators work well, and their online resources section offers valuable information to potential finance needers.
They also offer insurance options for those not wanting to outsource an often overlooked requirement for those taking out finance. Their online checklists cover almost every eventuality when investing in a property, and they offer options for those wishing to refinance or invest.
It doesn’t get more comprehensive than the Home Loan Experts website. They offer to finance throughout Australia and offer only the best possible interest rates, even on complex loans. They offer loans for just about every real estate developer who requires financing for residential and commercial property development. Their online calculator tools are easy to use, and their knowledge database is vast. They offer expert advice at the click of a button which is a huge plus when on time constraints.
Tools for Property Development
Once financing has been sorted out for the relevant property developer, preparation for the development of the land can begin.
Expert third-party contractors will need to be called in at this stage, including civil engineers, land surveyors and builders to begin construction. While sourcing materials alone may seem like the right thing to do when on a budget, often the amount of time spent sourcing construction materials is not worth it.
The internet is teeming with various experts but knowing where to look for accredited outsourced services is essential.
1. Land Surveyor
The SSSi Land Surveying Commission’s website is extremely comprehensive covering Australia and New Zealand.
Surveyors are required to license and register themselves in terms of the various council laws and legislations in various areas.
SSI’s website allows the real estate property developer to;
*Find a registered surveyor
*Register a complaint
*Access legislation and reports
*Access surveying legislation and regulations
*Practice guidelines and surveying drafting manuals
The site has broken down each of the relevant councils into territories with backlinks to allow real estate developers to find a comprehensive list of registered surveyors in their projects area.
2. Civil Engineers
The National Engineering Register is a good place to start when looking for civil engineers to take on real estate development plans.
The website has information available to real estate developers, not only on members who are legally registered to practice but on a large amount of other useful information.
The company supports businesses by linking qualified engineers with real estate developers. Ensuring that the correct skill sets are matched with the development project at hand. They pride themselves in keeping up to date, so information is plenty on the various pages of the site.
Real Estate Developers can search the register for both national and international candidates in order to check their credentials.
3. Builders / Construction
Master Builders Australia is the national authoritative committee that oversees Australia’s building and construction industry. With more than 32,000 members registered throughout Australia’s states and territories, there is no better website out there to check a potential construction specialists credentials.
The site directs real estate developers to area-specific websites in order to conduct the necessary due diligence. Further to that, the website is filled with useful information needed for those entering into the real estate development market.
Tools for Site Settlement
Once construction is complete, settlement of the developed property will need to begin if an off-plan marketing strategy is not already in place.
At this point, Google and referrals are the real estate property developers best bet. A quick internet search for ‘real estate site settlement estate agents’ and the developer’s area will bring up endless lists of agents who offer site settlement services.
Most are full service offering conveyancing for residential and commercial developments. They offer potential buyers of the completed property comprehensive information on purchasing the property, transfer of the land etc.
While real estate agents are not always needed it does take a lot of time and effort out of the settlement for the real estate developer. For potential buyers of the completed property, it instils a sense of trust in the developer by offering a professional secondary service.
Tools for Off-Plan Marketing
Much like site settlement estate agents, off-plan marketing should be done by a qualified, trusted third party specialists to save the real estate developer time.
Many experienced real estate developers branch into Off Plan marketing once they are more established in the industry; however, for newer developers, a third party is the way to go.
Google and word of mouth referrals will once again assist enormously in finding the right company to deal with the off-plan marketing strategy.
As with site settlement estate agents, these companies offer comprehensive packages to potential buyers with the exception that the property development is not yet completed. Transfer of the property is completed once the real estate developer has finalised the property.
Tools for Settlement of Sale
The settlement of sale date is the day that all parties, including the financiers, have completed their transactions.
For real estate developers who opt to lease or rent out their completed developments tools for settlement of sale are essential. Specialised software that enables the developer to keep track of amounts owed, debt, and income coming in as well as maintenance costs are absolutely essential.
Property Shell is a top-performing provider of real estate sales and property development software. The software allows property developers to drive the sales and rentals of their residential, commercial and industrial properties.
Listed as one of the best customer relationship management systems for real estate, it allows the developer to generate the best quality leads for higher conversion rates. But, more importantly, for developers, the software streamlines project development operations. Sales, contracts and construction can all be managed through the software making it an invaluable management tool.
The GST Property Decision Tool and tax obligation calculators assist real estate property developers to calculate and settle GST on their properties. The questionnaire is fairly simple and offers additional information for GST settlement on the sale of new properties. GST is generated instantaneously and is based on the amount that would be payable upon sale of the completed development.
It should be noted though that the online tool does not take into account partitioning of land, and certain other types of excluded property development types.
Pexa has revolutionised property exchange by digitalizing the property exchange process. Setting up on the site allows real estate property developers the opportunity to e-conveyance their own properties which reduces the time it would normally take for documentation to be processed by a third party.
Conveyancing, transfers and settlement are quick and secure. Further to that, Caveats can be lodged or withdrawn at any time as well as encumbrances.
For those who are more experienced in property real estate development and who want to manage their own Settlement of Sale, Pexa is an incredible online tool.
4. Global X
Global X is an award-winning conveyancing software for real estate developers. It saves time and allows real estate developers to act as their own conveyancers. It is a complete end-to-end project management too that has been designed with Australia’s unique property development industry in mind.
The software reduces the processing time that is usually needed to complete transactions on multi-lot developments.
Reporting and communication between the developer and the buyer are instantaneous and allows for e-signing of contracts.
Global X’s Matter Centre Projects is definitely Australia’s top workflow process system for multi-lot property developments.
Other Tools for Real Estate Developments
While the internet and laptop computers are great and certainly needed for a real estate developer to be able to complete their project efficiently, smartphones and tablets are always on hand and far less cumbersome than laptops. Property developer apps are aplenty though, and it often tough to try and figure out which one is most needed for the developers’ particular needs.
1. Property Development Feasibility
The Property Development Feasibility app is developed by residential and commercial property developers with their counterparts in mind. It allows its users to calculate the feasibility of property development through its online calculator tool. For iPhone users, the app is free, but for those on Android compatible devices, QwikFeaso does the same job and is free on Google Playstore.
uSketchit+ is the digital version of carrying around a notepad and pen and allows real estate property developers to sketch schematic site plans. The app allows its users to email, copy and save their designs and does not cost a small fortune.
The app allows its user to customise and develop floor plans without ever having to pull out a measuring tape. On its manual setting, real estate developers are able to draw their floor plan manually. Drawings are saved in both PDF and JPG formats and can easily be transferred over for construction experts and off-plan buyers to visualise incomplete projects.
4. GAVL Live Auctions
GAVL affords real estate property developers to attend property auctions without ever having to be there. Auctions are broadcast in real-time, and auction results are made public seconds after the auction is concluded.
Canstar pulls in a host of home loan provider’s information and displays the information in a table for the developer to compare rates terms and conditions. The table offers link backs to the relevant loan providers. Make sure to read the relevant documentation, terms and conditions before committing to a provider.