How To Build A Development Dream Team
The barrier to entry for successful development projects continues to rise in major markets like Los Angeles and New York. Rising construction costs, building regulations and difficult tenants become obstacles that require teams of experts to navigate. Developers and owners need to be selective when finding whom they can trust to take a development from construction to lease-up.
Strong communication skills, creativity and an analytical mind form the foundation of a successful and well-rounded team. Throughout the life cycle of a project, identifying key people with these traits is important for success at every stage.
All development projects start with opportunity. The perfect parcel of land or value-add building can be hard to find. Brokers bring value and can often access deals yet to hit the market. When developers are exploring new cities or regions, a broker is invaluable in providing local market knowledge, contacts and socio-economic insights that can make a significant impact on any planned development.
Without a well-conceived plan, development projects cannot move forward, and if they do, they are often doomed to failure. Developers drive the vision behind the projects that interest them, negotiate the deals and keep an eye on their progress. But during the planning phase they also rely heavily on technically savvy development teams to leverage analytical skills and detail-oriented research, which allows them to assemble a comprehensive plan of the finished product.
Before they can break ground, prospective owners and developers need to know what they are working with. Surveyors and estimators are typically engaged from the outset to ensure that all variables on, under, over and adjacent to the proposed site are considered before a deal is struck. This allows developers to understand exactly what they can build and the potential risks associated with the project.
An estimator adds value by reviewing proposed plans to build a preliminary budget and then tracks spending, change orders and alterations to deliver a real-time budget, which is critical for quickly responding to any significant changes to the project scope, design or eventual returns.
Across these team members, an intelligent outlook on the future of the development is a must.
The construction phase turns the information gained during planning into action. But managing teams, tracking materials and keeping projects on schedule and under budget requires a balance of organizational and communication skills.
Estimators stay on throughout the construction process, tracking and updating expenses as a project advances. They relay that information to the developer’s right hand: the project manager. Construction project managers take over the planning and organizing of a development and act as the direct point of contact between the owner and the general contractor.
Like a surveyor, a project manager should be able to read, understand and apply complex documents affecting real estate projects. They should also be able to provide instructions, feedback and constructive criticism while maintaining a positive and motivational outlook to the broader team at the head office or on-site.
For the management of day-to-day operations on a construction site and the short-term schedule, project managers depend on the construction superintendent. Superintendents are the direct supervisors of all other workers on the site and ensure construction materials are ordered and delivered on time.
People skills take the forefront during the management phase, where owners focus on filling developments with tenants and increasing the value of the property.
Leasing teams, either in-house or external, must be well-connected in the target market and build a cohesive strategy that drives interest in the project. A strong network of pre-qualified tenants can often ensure a project leases up quickly, freeing up cash flow for other developments.
Once leased, keeping tenants happy and willing to renew is a top priority for earning a profit across all asset classes. Property owners with large portfolios turn to property managers to handle administrative tasks. The property manager acts on behalf of the owner to preserve and maximize the value of the property while ensuring tenants have a positive experience with all members of the on-site team.
Asset managers take a more holistic approach to increasing returns, and use research and data analysis to mitigate risks and promote valuable improvements. Like estimators and surveyors in the planning phase, asset managers rely on market intelligence to build a long investment life for the project and to provide long-term advice to owners as to whether projects should be held, upgraded or disposed at the height of the market.
Finding the development dream team can make the difference between a project exceeding its expectations or missing them. Michael Page, a recruitment company with global reach, 40 years of experience and dedicated industry specialists throughout all major North American markets will find the candidates that make successful development projects a reality.
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