We Learn Best When We Learn From Each Other

Most, if not all, of the articles published in the SEC Observer are written by our members. Our objective is to share our experiences and ideas with others based on the philosophy that says:

“We learn best when we learn from each other.”

Below is an e-mail exchange between one of our readers, Dennis Brantley, and S.E.C. member Bill Stonaker that I thought Observer readers might enjoy…

January 11th, 2005


I just perused your article and found it very insightful. I attended small business training last year and decided to write business plans for all my investments. Although I have used resources from Urban Land Institute, Institute of Real Estate Management, CCIM, etc, I have not been able to locate sources that discuss how to create business plan for land development. I focused on strip shopping centers.

Last year I attended the Broker Estate Building class in Houston and Phil Corso gave me some comments on land development. If you would shed some light on specific books, references, services, etc. on land development it would be highly appreciated.

Thank you for your cooperation.

Dennis Brantley
Houston, Texas

January 12th, 2005


Over the years, I have come up with my own way of looking at land development. But it is no secret. Determine what the finished product will be, say strip retail. What are the rents going to be? Work backwards. Begin deducting costs such as professionals, commissions, TI’s, time, interest carry and hard costs. Have a BIG fudge factor for contingencies like steel costs that go through the roof. Then if the numbers don’t work, go fishing – either for another deal or for reds. Life is too short to do deals where you are not going to make any serious money. And land has too many risks.

No matter what road you take, I would urge you to come up with a written plan that shows exactly how the deal should be done. Show it to others. Brainstorm the plan. See if some of your fellow brokers who attended BEB will join forces with you and put a deal together.

You might contact some of the S.E.C.’s in your area and meet and brainstorm with them. I know each S.E.C. in Houston personally and will vouch for each of them.

As for books, I would recommend “Real Estate Development, Workbook & Manual” by Zuckerman and Blevins. It gives you a road map that is easy to follow.

Thanks for responding to the article. I am glad you enjoyed it.

Bill Stonaker, S.E.C., CCIM
Grapevine, Texas

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