Engel & Völkers Development Services > Blog > The objective of Development Services is to offer a credible and persuasive value proposition.

The objective of Development Services is to offer a credible and persuasive value proposition.

An Interview with Stuart Siegel, Head of Development Services Americas 

Stuart Siegel is the Head of Development Services Americas. With over thirty years of experience, he has extensive knowledge in the premium residential property market supporting an ample local and global client base. He believes that listing and selling newly built properties requires a different skill set and resources. Development Services stems from these requirements and aims to assist and support developers and investors in all phases of project development. To achieve this, advisors and developers must have a very deep understanding of the markets from a micro and macro perspective.

Newly built offerings play an increasingly important role in the real estate market. You have stated that listing and selling such properties relies on a credible and persuasive value proposition. What does this value proposition entail in the field of new development in the USA and Canada?

For brokers and agents it means expanding your skill sets while holding on to the fundamentals learned through representing existing properties. Agents will always need to know how to price well and leverage their networks. But, for those who want to be actively involved in newly built offerings, they need to deepen their understanding of what differentiates a developer/investor from a typical home buyer. A savvy developer is often thinking of capital markets and where we’re heading in the real estate cycle. In other words, their decisions are driven by maths. The value proposition of Development Services is that our advisors understand that math and are further supported by experienced professionals who have worked as developers/investors themselves. I cannot emphasise enough how valuable it is, from the perspective of a developer/investor, to have a real estate advisor-advocate who is conversant in property development and, of course, brings their brokerage expertise to the table. 

When you supplement that expertise with the collaborative global network and the proprietary marketing channels that are available to all of our exclusive listings, it's a compelling package of services.

Which challenges do developers – and Engel & Völkers Development Services by extension – face in the Americas? Which skill set and resources are necessary to tackle these challenges?

One of the greatest challenges that developers and investors face right now is market uncertainty. Given shifts in demographics (due to pandemic migration, recent changes in WFH policies and trends predating the pandemic), a tightening of monetary policies stemming from rising inflation, and lags in the repricing of real estate to align with recent shocks, developers are challenged with predicting where the market is going and finding deals backed by fundamental project economic requirements. Current profit margin expectations don’t justify the risk and timeline uncertainty stemming from supply chain issues exacerbates that risk. Despite the current uncertainty on nearly all fronts, real estate is historically cyclical and we expect to see a shift in the tide and a demand for new housing development. We have over a decade of underbuilding of housing and housing shortages in over 100 metro areas in the US, so when the factors align we expect a resurgence and our advisors will be ready.

I would say that the essential skill for both advisors and developers is to know everything you can about your market. Having a good grasp of the recent sales transactions isn’t enough. You must dive into the details from a regional level down to the individual tracts or parcels that may fit your development criteria. You must ask, what is the current zoning and future land use? Are there planned capital improvements or new development projects that may add value to a neighbourhood? What key people and resources in my market can provide the most accurate and up-to-date information? Finding answers to these kinds of questions provide the insights and advantages every developer needs, particularly in a competitive environment in which profit margins are challenged.

Which project(s) are you currently marketing in the Americas and how do these stand out from other new developments?

Currently, we are working on a luxury resort-branded residential project in Central America. With the development program in place and product mix outlined, we’re tasked with recommending pricing for units across the project. In doing so, we conducted an in-depth analysis to collect data on property and unit features that impact price premiums versus our peer group (or comps). Collecting and analysing over 4,500 data points on 300 competitive properties, we recommended pricing for all units and outlined a phased release strategy. Both pricing and the release are updated in real-time based on expected fluctuations of factors in the capital markets or when the properties’ absorption rates exceed or fall behind expectations.

This project stands out from other developments for a few reasons. For one, hospitality-branded residential is a product type that has seen significant growth, and an even more recent spike due to the expansion of remote work trends. With the work-from-anywhere nomad and the 2nd or 3rd-home buyer, we see a large group of people who want to put down roots for a few months at a time but then have the peace of mind that their home is taken care of and well-managed while they’re away. The fact that their purchase becomes a low-maintenance and perhaps a revenue generating investment makes the offer even more attractive. These kinds of projects also stand out because many of them are developed in untested markets. In most cases, developers take the risk to introduce a new product, and a new price ceiling to the area. In most situations, this means we can’t solely rely on local comparables to set pricing. The marketplace for these products is both regional and global, in that it both attracts a pool of buyers from a global market, but it is also a group that can decide to live nearly anywhere, so that real task becomes highlighting the value proposition of this site versus others and making sure that the pricing, the lifestyle, and the product is competitive against its global peer group.

From the E&V Americas Headquarters, you have a very special insight into how your team works and how you collaborate with developers. How do the services you offer to developers differ from those of your competitors?

For one, we have one of the most expansive yet close-knit networks of advisors across the US and Canada, along with our international relationships. This is incredibly important for collaboration with developers because in addition to having access to a large feeder network for their projects, we are likely to have a local advisor who can provide boots-on-the-ground market expertise.

Our other differentiator is the agility to scale up or scale down based on the needs of a particular project. In some cases, developers have specific expertise in a region, product, or phase in the development timeline (for example, planning, finance, construction, marketing, sales, etc.). We are prepared to respond directly to the needs of a particular project, precisely where it is needed. 

For more information about Development Services Americas, visit: https://www.evrealestate.com/development-services

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