Secrets of successful property development in new book

The man who has secured the largest ever loan to a private property company from the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) has published a book revealing the secrets of property development and investment.

Property developer John Howard received a £15m loan as part of a £26m build cost for The Winerack development on Ipswich Waterfront. When completed in December next year, there will be 150 flats, offices and a restaurant together with 265 parking spaces in the centre of the building over ten floors, accessed by a car stacker system.

John, 56, has bought and sold over 3,500 properties in his career. His new book, the Inside Guide to Property Development and Investment for Newcomers (Troubador Publishing Ltd, £9.99), provides inside information on how to avoid the common pitfalls that can engulf the novice investor, as well as busting a few myths about the profession.

John says: “I won’t tell you what colour to paint the walls or which type of brewed coffee smells best in order to help sell your properties. But what I will do is give you straight-talking, hard-nosed, real life advice from someone who’s been developing property for 35 years, rather than the opinion of a TV presenter or celebrity footballer with barely any experience in the subject whatsoever.

“This book is written in a way that can be understood by everyone, from the total novice to somebody who has dabbled in property development already. I wanted reading it to feel like a conversation – so if it feels like having a chat in a local pub, that’s precisely the effect I was looking for.”

John Howard followed his father into the world of estate agency and made his first property deal at the age of 18. He took over the business when he was 19, trebling its turnover in three years. By the age of 24, he had sold it to concentrate on property development.

He explains: “Property has always been a good long-term investment. Back in 1979, my first purchase was a 2-bed first and second floor maisonette in Felixstowe for £9,500. If I’d spent that money investing in gold, it would now be worth around £76,000. But if that same property went on the market tomorrow, it would be worth around £225,000!”

John became one of the youngest directors of a football league club at the age of 25 when he joined Cambridge United FC – a post he was to hold for 18 years. In 2007 he acquired an opened a number ofFine & Country estate agencies across East Anglia specialising in the upper end of the market, and hasrecently launched Exquisite Home, a new estate agency brand, which is to be franchised nationally.

Tips in his new book include picking the right property, putting deals together, how to add value to a building, negotiating to buy, securing funding, buying to rent, working with builders, solicitors and estate agents, and buying or selling at auction. He also covers how to trade in a rising or falling market and gives advice on the best time to get out of the market as well as – just as importantly – to get back in.

He adds: “Property developing is a wonderful job. You can do it alongside your main profession, or it can turn into your full-time career. One of the biggest mistakes people make is not to factor-in the right amount of profit from the very start. It’s also easy to let your heart get carried away, even if your head is telling you ‘no’!

“Hopefully reading my book will help you make the right decisions and avoid some of the mistakes I made. In fact, I wish a book like this could have been around when I started developing property. It would have saved me a lot of money!”