Brock Carmichael

Improving reputations for property development

13 August 2018

Property development is a complex, risky business where timing is key and reputation is all. Within the property sector the relationship between risk and reward is better understood. However, people outside the sector don’t appreciate or see the risks as clearly and they tend to focus on developer’s rewards; rent, returns, yield and profit. So how can we improve?

Engage with Communities. The prospect of development and fear of change is unsettling for many people. However engaging with local communities at an early stage and working with them to understand the history of a place, its needs and opportunities builds mutual trust. A collaborative approach can help overcome obstacles and unlock opportunities. Working together can produce great outcomes and sustainable developments that are successful both socially and financially.

Insist on Good Design. Don’t settle for anything less! Research from the UK and abroad has consistently shown that investment in good design generates both economic and social value, improving the quality of people’s lives’ and fostering civic pride. The best property developers recognise that good design is not just about the appearance of buildings or spaces but about the improvements it can make to quality of life, equality of opportunity and economic growth. They also recognise that good design solutions do not necessarily cost more over the lifetime of a development.

Uphold Quality Standards. Good design must be accompanied by good construction and quality of materials in order to be truly successful. Both investors and occupiers are becoming more aware of higher maintenance and running costs associated with poorer build quality and materials. In the residential sector, particularly Build to Rent, there has been arguably a relative homogeneity of product. Quality will become a more important factor in determining property investment returns going forward as the demand becomes increasingly more sophisticated and selective.

Deliver on Promises. Failed property developments dent confidence and let down communities. Once promises are broken, reputation suffers.

Michael Cosser