You may be sitting on a goldmine of land in Sheffield without realising – here's how to get the most value out of a plot according to a city estate agent
Land is a finite resource, constantly sought after to create much-needed new homes as well as schemes for business, public services and leisure.
But the process of turning an empty plot or redundant building into a fresh and worthwhile development can be a complicated one involving many considerations, from determining the financial viability of a project to securing planning permission and even offering the right interior features that will appeal to buyers.
The estate agent Redbrik, which has offices in Sheffield and Chesterfield, has a special Land and New Homes division overseen by manager Jen Beal.
Here Jen gives her best advice on how people can get the most value out of the space they’re working with.
Think outside the box
“Somebody might own a disused builders' merchant, an old petrol station or set of garages, derelict properties, or commercial premises in the middle of a residential area – there's loads of different options for land. Sometimes people think you've just got to have one massive garden, but you can easily team up with some of your neighbours and form what's known as a Land Assembly, where you share the profit among the landowners. We're really keen for people to pick up the phone and speak to us about their land. They might be sitting on a little goldmine and they don't realise it. It's all free advice, we just want to see how we can help.”
Be aware of market demand
“Land is absolutely getting snapped up and they're not going to create any more of it. There are lots of businesses which have premises that could easily relocate and go somewhere else. They don't need to be sitting in some massive building like they once did. We work really closely with Urbana Town Planning in Sheffield. We can work out what planners would allow to go on a site, and then speak to architects. Ultimately what we're trying to do is find out what would be the best thing to build which is going to have the biggest value, and therefore give the land its biggest value.”
Apartments aren’t always the answer
"We've had quite a lot of examples recently where people have come to us and they've gone a little bit further – acquired a site and gone in for planning. Unfortunately they come to us with approved planning and we have to tell them that the site is worth very little, perhaps even negative land value, and that's all to do with the fact they've put the wrong thing on it for the area. An example would be apartments. Historically people think apartments are the best thing to put on a plot of land because you can get more units on. What they don't realise is they also cost a lot more to build. Straight away the profit margin for a would-be developer is gone. We might be better re-working that scheme as, say, four semi-detached houses. We want to speak to people as early as possible so we can guide them through the whole process.”
Learn what buyers want to see
"Redbrik have been involved with Brantingham Homes at the former Beauchief hotel right from the site acquisition and we've worked with them to advise on the right size of houses, the layouts, what to put in them – all based on what we know buyers really want and are willing to pay for. Everyone knows the site so we wanted to make sure it was treated sympathetically. It's quite nice to see how that's gone from what it was, with a big car park to the side of it, to a proper little community now. It’s just sold out. Sky-House over at Waverley is another one we've been involved in for coming up to three years, and also we've worked with a developer in Dronfield Woodhouse, Woods & Sons – they've built some beautiful five-bedroom detached houses there.”
Land has different values to different people
"One set of developers could perhaps build quite a lot cheaper than another. They may be able to offer a bit more for the land. It's quite a complex calculation, but it all depends on what the end properties are going to be worth. If you have a plot of land and you can put a fantastic £1.5 million house on it, there probably will be a decent amount of money in there for the landowner. You're looking at things like how much a property costs to build, finance fees for a developer, legal fees and obviously their profit – whatever you're left with is the land value.”
Small schemes can reap rewards
"I was involved in one two years ago in S10 – a bespoke house build in somebody's garden, it was beautiful. We found a buyer while it was still being built so it was an off-plan purchase for £830,000. The biggest to date is 44 units, but the next biggest will be Hallam Towers with 103.”
Completion time depends on the developer and team
“We're just about to launch a really exciting development, Burgess House, part of Heart of the City – we've got 52 apartments coming to market and that building is absolutely flying up. They're going to be ready for people to move in in August. We're excited about bringing back really high quality properties into the city centre, which I think there's been a bit of a shortage of for quite some years. That's a quick one, but we've got others where it's potentially going to be an 18-month build such as Hallam Towers.”
Tap into the Land & New Homes Network
"In August last year Redbrik became part of the Land and New Homes Network, a national organisation that connects local agents with landowners, other industry contacts and housebuilders. It's great, we've got a really supportive team behind us which gives us loads of resources. We're the only agent in the area that's part of the network.”