Finding the right land to buy for development can be a challenging process, but also a very rewarding one if you get it right. Whether you are new to property development or an experienced veteran, securing the right plot of land for your next project is a process that can’t afford to be overlooked.
It boils down to spotting the right land-purchasing opportunities and beating other fast-acting property developers to the punch. New property developers may seem a little overwhelmed at the prospect of buying available plots of land but don’t worry because once you understand the land-buying process, it’s fairly straightforward.
At Land & Brand New Homes, our specialist team works with landowners and house builders across the South East to match the right development land opportunities with the right buyers. Based on our 30+ years of experience in the land and new homes sector, we are confident that you won’t find a better land agent in West Sussex, East Sussex, and the surrounding area. We, therefore, feel confident in sharing our expert tips on how to go about finding land purchase opportunities as a residential developer.
How to Find Land to Purchase in the UK
Whether you are buying a new plot of land for self-build projects from scratch, considering a commercial or agricultural land development, or as an investment opportunity, buying land for sale requires some intricate and methodical steps.
Research Land for Sale
The first step is to thoroughly research the local areas and councils where you wish to buy development land for sale.
Analyse factors like the purpose of the land, your maximum budget, the local market for the type of development you are planning, how much time and available budget you have and how soon you can begin the construction process.
You may wish to hone in on specific types of land, as certain types offer different benefits but may have certain limitations. These include:
- Industrial land – ideal for open storage, car parks or logistics facilities
- Agricultural or farmland – to produce natural resources or areas for livestock to graze on
- Brownfield land – abandoned or underutilised land that can be transformed, often found in urban areas
- Greenbelt land – undeveloped land currently used for agriculture or left in its natural state
- Contaminated land – land that’s been previously industrialised but, for one reason or another, can cause contamination or harm to people, protected species, or property
The prices and availability of any available land in the categories above are all influenced by supply and demand. Some types of land are more competitive with private buyers and developers than others, while others – such as contaminated land – may require specific criteria determined by the relevant local authority to be considered for purchase.
Determine Your Criteria
Once you’ve researched local markets, establish clear criteria for the type of land you want to buy.
Consider factors like site size, proximity to transport and infrastructure, planning designations, ground conditions, access, and surrounding uses.
Setting defined parameters will help streamline your search and ensure the sites you pursue are viable for your development plans.
Do Some Essential Groundwork
Search for development land opportunities in your preferred locations and take a walk around any other areas of interest to see any potential eye-catching sites. You can get an idea of the scale and size of vacant, underutilised, or derelict sites that meet your criteria before they end up on the market. It can also be a reliable source of land development inspiration to see how a few different areas feel to you.
You can also stop to speak with landowners in person about what their plans to sell land are, and what the land planning history is of a particular site.
Regularly review planning application registers on council websites to spot submitted proposals for land usage changes, divisions, and development schemes. This can highlight landowners with intentions to sell all or part of their site for the right project. You can also pay a small fee to access the Land Registry website if this doesn’t bring you any luck. Alternatively, plot finder sites can allow you to find land vendors who may be worth approaching.
The most competitively priced land often sells via off-market deals before hitting the open market. You can always stop to speak with landowners in person about whether they’d consider selling to you, and whether they know of any other potential vendors. If you want to speed up the process, you may be best served to contact your local planning office and set up notifications to alert you of any new ‘land for sale’ listings.
Attend Auctions and Tenders
Many private landowners sell land via property auctions. Get into the habit of going to local auctions and you could secure a plot of land for a competitive price. However, be aware that competition is high, with auctions typically packed with keen property developers. If you can bid on land decisively and with confidence, you can secure land at lower prices than going via the open market.
Understand Planning Context
Carefully research the planning history, constraints, and policies relating to any site you are interested in purchasing. This is one of the most crucial steps to take if you want to avoid being lumped with a plot of land that you can’t get planning permission to build on.
Assess the likelihood of obtaining planning permission under current guidelines or through allocation in emerging local plans. If the land already has planning permission, that could be a good opportunity to buy the land now. Planning permission can take considerable time to materialise and can often be expensive, so if it’s already there on a plot that is of interest to you, snap it up before someone else does.
Choose the Right Land Purchasing Team
Property developers are constantly on the lookout for cheap land to buy, ideally finding low-cost land that has the potential to turn a decent return on investment. This is where partnering with a locally connected, reputable and transparent land agent in Sussex like Land & Brand New Homes.
We have built numerous solid relationships with local estate agents, authorities and councils who can advise our clients on how to secure the best land in Sussex and the surrounding areas, for the best possible price.
Be Ready to Act Fast
Quality and high-potential sites get snapped up quickly in competitive development markets. Have your financing in order and be prepared to carry out swift due diligence and negotiate decisively when a promising opportunity to buy cheap land arises. With the right land-buying team behind you, the process will be much more transparent and seamless, but it relies heavily on you being able to communicate and act quickly.
Hopefully, these tips give you a good overview of key steps and factors to consider when seeking development land opportunities. The process requires time, persistence, and patience, but identifying and acquiring the right site at a competitive price is one of the most important ingredients for a successful development.
At Land & Brand New Homes, our team has helped facilitate numerous land sales across the South East. If you are looking to purchase land for development in Sussex, Surrey or the surrounding areas, contact us today to find out how we can help match you with available sites.