The key characteristics commonly shared by top property developers

Wednesday, 2nd Apr 2014

Development Tile

Not everyone has what it takes to plan and undertake a successful property development. There is a lot you need to know, and last month we looked at four of the critical knowledge areas. It’s not just about what you know; having certain character traits can also prove extremely advantageous.

This month we outline some of the key characteristics commonly shared by top property developers. How many do you have?


The best property developers live by the old truism ‘time equals money’. They know that unnecessary delays are to be avoided at all costs, because even a small delay can have disastrous flown-on effects to the schedule and budget. Decisiveness, or the ability to make quick decisions, is therefore an important trait to have.

Ability to spot potential

When searching for a development project, great opportunities are typically few and far between. And when these opportunities do come along, they certainly don’t hang around forever. Successful property developers can spot a good opportunity very quickly and in a matter of moments do a ‘quick feasibility’ to determine whether further investigation is warranted.

Deal making

Securing a development site isn’t always straight-forward. When negotiating with a seller, sometimes the developer needs to think outside the box and come up with a solution that works for all parties – they need to get the right deal done. This may involve, for instance, securing an option to buy the property, buying the site outright, or even entering into a joint venture with the property owner.

The key to making some developments profitable can come down to something as simple as a long settlement or an extended due diligence period.

Solution oriented

In any development, problems will arise that can sap the motivation of even the most motivated developer. It’s the developers who don’t get bogged down with the problems and choose instead to focus on solutions that have greater chance of success.

Big picture focus

Professional developers seem to have an innate ability to see the big picture and recognise ‘the wood through the trees’. They have an unwavering focus and the patience to see their vision gradually become a reality, even if it means making mistakes from time to time.

An understanding of quality vs time 

There is a constant battle all property developers face. It’s comes from the reality that producing a better quality product will generally cost more in terms of time and money. With any project, you need to find the right balance, which means carefully understanding the particular market you are targeting. There’s no point in spending extra money in a particular area of the project if the market simply won’t pay for it.

Excellent people skills

The best property developers have excellent communication and interpersonal skills. They can relate to people from all walks of life and quickly build genuine rapport. Think about the variety of people a property developer might deal with, from property sellers, consultants, builders, and tradespeople to neighbours and members of the local council. It takes leadership skills and sometimes a big dose of diplomacy to successfully get the most out of these relationships.


This list provides a useful overview of the personal traits and characteristics that lend themselves to the property development arena, but it is by no means comprehensive.

A property development project is almost always a serious undertaking and not one to be faced unprepared. But if it’s done right, the rewards can be excellent.

For this reason, aspiring property developers without the necessary time and resources should always seek the help of a development manager or team, who can coordinate the entire process and provide valuable advice along the way.