And you say you want to be a developer check this out.

43 Replies

As quoted in the Napa Valley Register.

"As Napa city officials near a possible decision in the two-decade tug of war over 51 homes planned near Old Sonoma Road and Casswall Street, a developer on Tuesday again tried to make the case…"

2 decades.. probably 3 or 4 developers tried and gave up.. there is a reason I only lived in the Napa Valley and never worked there LOL..

@Jay Hinrichs I'm a huge fan of all your posts and how candid you have been about the real estate business. Let me ask, do you know any developers in palm beach, miami, and or broward (FL), who you can refer me to that will allow me to work for them? I have desired to be a (HUGE) developer and I meet them at events and meetups but they all act like its a "secret society" AND OR competing developers into there business. I do not want any compensation nor am I lazy, Im willing to work and even invest into their business if I have to but I have not had any luck. If you could help me out, I promise to pass it on the next person who will need help in anyway. I look forward to hearing from you and thank you for your time. 


that's a tough one.. most folks I know either made money like we did as we were coming up then morphed into doing this ourselves. or they got a degree and went to work as a w 2 for a development firm and worked their way up.

@Jay Hinrichs

thank you for the feedback. I will keep grinding and strive to the top. If and when anything comes across your mind, in regards, developers I can touch to help that you have relationships with please keep me in mind. I look forward to reading your educational posts here on BP. Take care and enjoy your evening. 


@Jay Hinrichs @Duriel Taylor

Always one of the assessments we spend some time and energy on in the beginning of a project: 

Do we want to take on the entitlement/political process risk on X project?

One of the observations I make about other developers and other projects is whether taking on that particular project is coherent with the political risks. If I observe someone is hell bent on taking on an impossible project, it makes a statement about their skill and discipline as a developer. 

This is a a learned skill, usually by being burned by a deal or city, and taking a loss either early or late in a projects lifecycle. In the early part of my career as an APM, I thought every deal was doable, and that there was no deal that I couldn't make work. After a few years working for others, you will see that in fact, that's not true. 

Here on BP, many folks propose to move from investment/flipping to development, and part of what's missed in that type of transition is the learning on someone else's dime, the learning  of the development process in a disciplined, rigorous, professional manner. I've seen too many projects (including some of my own) lose money because someone got it in their head: that they loved this deal, or could make this particular deal work, or loved working in X city, and want to do a deal there. It's just not true, you have to be quite brutal in your assessment of a deal's viability. 

This is why in our UTH family townhome rental housing projects, we only work on already zoned sites. We have done major entitlement projects, and made a lot of money doing it. We know how to entitle in California, the toughest state in the nation to process entitlements. The risks are huge, and the payoffs are too, mostly. And it's the "mostly" part that gets you. We want a predictable pipeline of projects, that we can acquire, build, rent, and sell/hold. So we work to eliminate rezone, GPA, subdivision approvals entirely.

This is why getting educated in every way possible is so valuable, read everything possible, every book, every video, every post, take classes, pay for professional training, do it all. 

The other thing that people miss: hire an advisor for your development career or specific project, or bring on a seasoned JV partner. It's so valuable, but people get it in their heads that because they know how to flip houses or buy and value add apartment deals, that this somehow qualifies them to step into the role as a developer. I advised a guy who reached out to me for help on a development deal, where he knew nothing about development, and was asking really basic questions. I told him: we can help you, but the amount of help you need can't be given via BP posts or email, and that he could pay our company to provide real estate development consulting. He declined based on it costing too much, to which I responded, we can make you 10 times the amount of our consulting fees, by saving you from major costly mistakes or designing a more valuable building to sell when complete. He declined, which is his prerogative, but I will tell you this: it's a mistake. It's a mistake not to get the best, most powerful help possible. Take it from me, a 34 years seasoned developer, I've spent a lot of money paying into the "experience" bank account, way more that if I'd hired a seasoned pro to advise me. Great help, the best help and advice, is NEVER free.

The entitlement, zoning, subdivision, political process will kill you if you don't know what your doing. The developers who worked on the project Jay mentioned in his post, would all tell you that.

~ Scott

@Scott Choppin good post agree.

although BP is fine for free advice for those starting out in the most basic of transaction IE buying a simple rental house.

Development is not the same as you allude to and cannot be coached from the keyboard.

takes a team of experts to put most deals together you just need to know who and how to assemble the team then you need deep pockets and a good amount of negotiating skills with bureaucrats who are paid whether your project goes or not.

Oregon used to be relatively simple my first project here in 94 was a 100 lots in Yamhill county I got it into contract and tentative map approved in 4 months.. they don't do EIR's here.. if its in the city and zoned its just engineering.. stuff can come up.. like we could not get water pressure and I had to bring a 12 inch water line 1/2 a mile and buy 3 easements.. but my map was approved subject to conditions. 

Today that same plat would be 2 to 3 years.

I am working on a 140 lot one right now it will be interesting I went into contract in sept.. and we think we can start moving dirt in May... I have it pre sold to Lennar so I hope this is the case 

Updated over 3 years ago

"may not Map"

@Scott Choppin  

Thank you for your amazing input. Allow me to ask you, do you have any miami/south florida developer colleagues that I can reach out to in an effort to work under? I have been to hundreds of events and met developers, exchange information but it seems like they are willing to help but only to a particular point. Im not sure why that is, I do not get in their way, I am simply reactive to this process vs trying to take things over and potentially causing them their business and or career. I look forward to hearing from you soon. 


@Duriel Taylor   I know you did not ask me.. but being a small time developer.. we create our teams and those are licensed profesisonals normally.. the only value I could see you brining if your not a licensed engineer or land planner or some other field that is needed.. would to be bring in a deal that they might want to buy.. other wise... like I said look to get hired.. although most development companies want to hire those with education credentials in the field.. BP does not count  LOL

@Jay Hinrichs noticed you mentioned other fields.... any chance contracts manager would fall into that? I know very little of the development world ( but I do know contracts/procurement is always needed in bigger construction projects lol).

@Matt K. abosolulty high rise developers its all about this process half the staff is negotiating and ordering stuff..

@Duriel Taylor , @Jay Hinrichs and @Scott Choppin have both hinted at what I see as one of your biggest dilemmas - what do you bring to the table and how does that translate into general experience.  I'm more in the mold of Jay.  I do my own thing and hire a team around me of locals (for the latest project I've got a land planning engineer, a realtor, general counsel, bond counsel, and a site rep for a 200 home subdivision -lots only  no construction).  That's it.  So theres room for a shadow who could get a taste of the whole process but no money to pay someone who's not bringing hard skill to the table.  Contrast that to a larger full service sector developer like Scott.  If you can find a place in a company like that your experience is likely to be very narrow and limited in how it prepares you for the job of full time developer.

When Jay said that most developers morph that about sums it up.  So you know what your best course of action is in order to morph into that developer you want to be?

1. Go find a lot that needs a house on it.  Research why it doesn't have one.  Talk to planning and zoning.  Buy it (maybe put some friends together).  Get financing and hire a builder to build it.  Then spend every second you can with every trade and professional who crosses onto that land.  Make the GC take you with you to planning/permitting meetings.  You're paying the bill.  They're providing the education.

2. Then go find two infill lots, or a house on two lots that needs to be scraped. or a residential house on commercial, or a site that's begging for rezoning, or land in the path of progress or or or..... By the time you get here  you've morphed and you're a developer.  The deals are the same at that point its just a question of the numbers of zeros.

@Dave Foster   I just funded a 54 lot deal in Orlando so nice to see these come back.. I am just the mezz on this one... someone else will do horizontal and vertical...

@Jay Hinrichs thank you for your feedback. I would love to bring you guys deals, I’m not a wholesaler but in effort to learn the business I will become what’s needed to be apart of a successful and knowledgeable team. When you can please let me know the investment scope of your team thus I could start looking. I have years of experience with property management, tenant acquisition, apartment and multi-family investing. I also have a master’s in communications and marketing from the University of Miami; I only say that to show I’m not lazy nor looking for a hand out. Anything I can do remotely and or in personal if your team needs done here (s.fla) please allow me to show my work. I look forward to hearing from you soon.


OK my advice is to look up owners of apartment complex's in Miami and tell the owners you can help them find dirt to build more or you can find them other value add deals.

Originally posted by @Jay Hinrichs :

@Duriel Taylor   I know you did not ask me.. but being a small time developer.. we create our teams and those are licensed profesisonals normally.. the only value I could see you brining if your not a licensed engineer or land planner or some other field that is needed.. would to be bring in a deal that they might want to buy.. other wise... like I said look to get hired.. although most development companies want to hire those with education credentials in the field.. BP does not count  LOL

 I left my job as a geotechnical/civil engineer and now I am doing flips/rentals. I was always more of a businessman than engineer.

I want to leverage myself into a job in development with my engineering degree and experience. I want to learn and partner so I can pursue my own endeavors. 

How should I approach this? I do not have a PE license, or plan to get one unless it will really help (its will take months of studying).


@Patrick Martone   offer your services for equity.. I have done that with horizontial contractors and engineers.. their normal rate plus a bonus they carry the job and get paid when lots or project sells.. in good times its possible to find these in bad times NOT really

Originally posted by @Jay Hinrichs :

@Patrick Martone  offer your services for equity.. I have done that with horizontial contractors and engineers.. their normal rate plus a bonus they carry the job and get paid when lots or project sells.. in good times its possible to find these in bad times NOT really

I only have two years of experience. What services would someone in your position be looking for? Whats a horizontal contractor. Is there a way I could invest my own money in the same project? I have 2 Home equity lines of credit. Not sure if its enough to be a contender.


@Patrick Martone   Horizontal is an underground contractor IE sewer water storm sewer etc.

I dealt with very mature companies that could afford to carry jobs.. 

would suspect you could hire on with one and work for equityu

@Dave Foster

Thank you for your input. I completely understand I technically do not offer much “professional real estate related licenses” however, much should be considered of my professional/effective communication skills. Learning how you did things yourself, gives me the mindset that I could do it myself just hire and or align myself with the real estate professionals needed to do my first of many developments. I desire to built residential both luxury condos, townhomes, and homes. I thought about commercial building too but I think online commerces will change store fronts for the bad in the near future. I will look into Potential land for building projects but here in S.FLA, land and building is very expensive. I will surely document my journey as I become the developer i desire to be. 

@Jay Hinrichs thank you for the feedback. I’m sure I could do more in regards to finding potential land and partner with local developers. If there is anything else that comes to mind please keep me in mind and please always share what your knowledge via biggerpockets. 

@Duriel Taylor I am no where near qualified to give you advice on this topic but I have the same aspiration as you do and what I have been doing is actually building relationships with small time builders. I've both invited them to events I've hosted or taken clients to some of their newly built homes all with the intention that they constantly see and recognize my face and eventually know my name. 

Next on my plan is to begin marketing for the acquisition of land, put the land I find under contract at a price my research proves to be profitable and I would consider assigning the contract to them for free in exchange to walk me through the entire process of the development. 

The only thing that has stopped me from moving forward with this plan is my lack of education in the development process, which I only blame myself for. I personally find it annoying when someone asks me for assistance in a subject and while speaking to them I find it obvious that they have never done some self teaching on their own. For this reason I want to be sure I do my own research on how to build a home from the ground up, from beginning to end before I start asking a busy businessman a bunch of tedious questions. 

Hope this provided some insight to someone if not yourself. Happy Investing!

@Gabe Amedee  one thing you can do is walk into the planning department and ask them for their development standards for various zonings this will cover a lot of info then you can dig into that as well.

and if by chance they will let you go through a development file while your at the counter you can snoop

@Jay Hinrichs thank you for the information and in general for everything you've provided to this forum. I'll be sure to do so. 

Do you feel joining the advisory board of the planning department may prove advantageous? My father is a sponsor of one of the commissioners so the whole appointment process may be simpler for me than for most.

@Gabe Amedee thank you for your feedback and input. I like your approach, having local builders get to know your name and face, I will try the same. I would be more than honored to have coffee with you to network with you and hopefully do some deals in the near future. PM your contact thus we can coordinate a time and place. I look forward to hearing from you soon.