I continued to work with the three different businesses that I have started it for Birmingham Property Developers Land Projects UK and also under my own name, writing to various different sites and various different organisations like disused car garages, car dealerships, and obviously domestic properties looking for development sites. When following this method it greatly became apparent that there were advantages and disadvantages doing each method. The system at Land Projects UK was quite well organised. Their web system, while it takes a bit of getting used to, is actually quite effective. It allows you to organise quite a large number of property projects and with a fairly low administrative load, although it does take an awful long time to writing a letter then to all the owners if you are trying to get a large site together. The web system is designed to co-ordinate and organise the responses from vendors as well as to help plan and organise the marketing to the vendors of the property. So you end up in a situation where there is a fairly good level of organisation of the projects you are undertaking and that removes the need to have your own independent administrative system. I found going on the Land Projects UK was a natural choice for the property projects where a large number of owners were involved.

The property projects where it involved a single large site are carried on using the contact from the Birmingham Developers, but after a while it became apparent that while the Land Projects UK staff were well set up and well organised to take inquiries from members of the public regarding the letters that they sent out. The same was not true with the developers in Birmingham, people complained about getting recorded messages or voice mails or whatever and it was problematic to get people to respond in this environment, so what I decided to do after a while was to carry them in my own name for a smaller single site and simple site with the potential that I could sign an option or introduce the developers from Birmingham or in fact any other developers later on. As a result I would be able to be freed up from relying on somebody else’s administrative system where this administrative system did not seem to be any better than anything that I could organise myself. So I carried on in my own name for all the smaller sites with one or two owners and used Land Projects UK for the larger sites. I looked at a couple of locations and on the advice of both the developers and Land Projects UK, I have been able to identify a small number of sites to pursue, but the reason for this being that apparently if you spread yourself too thinly then you do not see any of the projects through to fruition and you do not get any success, and that is what counts. It is not about getting inquires, it is about seeing the project through to the end and it can be a long slow process involving lots of difficult negotiations with a number of vendors. It is very important to have the commitment to follow-through each specific site rather than just the commitment to follow-through the entire system.

The key to success is making sure that you take each of the steps and deliver the project to the end by the site to make a profit, and when you hit a small snag it is very tempting to leave a site and not make that one extra call or write that one extra letter to the vendor to try and get the last piece of the jigsaw in place, but that is not how success is built. The site that I chose was centred around a village in mid Bedfordshire called Houghton Conquest. I marketed in three different names to this village to a number of streets, which have the potential for backland developments. Having driven through the village, I had noticed that there were a number of sites in the local area where people had developed on backland. There was one specific site on the main road into the village where a number of houses have been a large executive style homes had been put at the rear of a street of properties with very long thin gardens. The layout of the development of Houghton Conquest is that on the roads leading up to it, they have these ribbon-style developments with very long gardens facing on to open countryside. Now most of the time or in certainly many cases planners don’t like back land developments when it goes into open countryside. They prefer to keep the street seen as it is with the back land kept clear for a view on to the fields. I can see why they do this and in some ways backland sites do look a little odd but it is a good way of making sure that the village boundary does not spread whilst still allowing development.

However it is often easier to get permission for backland development when the backland is in a dense urban area and the sites back on to other gardens or other developments such as schools or roads. The development potential in this area was obviously very high because you had a planning precedent for backland development, so I went and saw some of the backland sites rise into whole streets and houses in the three different company names. I received inquiries from two streets in particular where there was a possibility of some development. The first one was a street of mixed tenure properties and there were number of housing association properties. People who read my articles regularly will understand my deep distaste for anything to do with the public sector and housing associations are no exception. The housing association in this local area is arrogant and they are notoriously difficult to deal with in a number of different ways.

From personal experience I know this, my nan who is disabled, was not allowed to swap her flat for a ground floor flat when he lived in an arrogant housing association flat. This was despite the gentleman in the ground floor flat being perfectly willing to swap with my 85-year-old nan but sadly the po-faced bureaucrats of the housing association were unwilling to allow my nan to live out his days in the ground floor flat and she spend the last year or so of her life a virtual prisoner in her own home due to the idiots of arrogant Housing Association, so no love loss there and I do not hold out any hope for them being reasonable or sensible when it comes to planning. I wrote to them nevertheless to try and establish whether or not it was possible to buy some of the backland gardens from their properties but I have not received a reply as yet. I do not imagine that that they will be organised enough to give me one, I mean if a developer came up and offered you several tens of thousand pounds, you would think you can get organised enough to write back, it is a public sector for you. It is an amazing organisation. So as a result this street is a rather tricky development or potentially got three or four properties that are adjacent to each other and they might potentially make this site, although access is a little tricky. It is going to be difficult to get on to the site and it is not really worth buying a property to pull down to create an access if the site is rather small. The alternative is to try and use the shared drive to get access to the backland but unfortunately the drives are quite narrow and that site is controversial with the local residents and with the planners. That site is a tricky one therefore and is possibly one that will not be able to go any further but I am still pursuing a couple of vendors and I will probably write again to __________ Housing Association to see if we can get a site together. On another road in Houghton Conquest there were larger properties and backing on to open fields. Apparently there is a covenant which restricts developments but, I am told that that it is not something that which should trouble me unduly. It remains to be seen whether this actually is the case when we come to try and to get round it at a later stage. I had an inquiry on this road from one lady who had a house, which she was certainly in no desperate hurry to sell but she had received an offer from another developer and she was interested.

Apparently, her neighbours were also interested too, the next door but one neighbour, but still could not manage to get in touch with them. This site is probably a 150 meters deep approximately and the gardens are perhaps 15 to 20 meters wide. This leads to a situation where it is an absolutely classic backland site, very, very big site. There is no doubt that they will be profitable to do the development if the owners are sensible about the price that they are looking for. Planning permission looks pretty good and overall it is just a matter of assembling this site and making sure that we can get enough owners to make it viable. But the moment we have only got one person who is definitely interested but realistically we need about two to three owners to really make things work, although a slightly less appealing development could be done on one site. It is a long way of at the moment but this is from a planning point of view, probably the most promising site that I have had the opportunity to deal with. The houses are going to be worth about 400,000 to 500,000 pounds when they are built. The owners are looking for, they have been offered by the developers somewhere around 200,000 pounds for their land, so I would imagine that the sites are going to be assembled for that kind of money. It is all about densities and numbers of properties and access restrictions that will make the difference between this site being viable and getting owners’ agreement and it being impossible due to the high demands the owners are making for money in this situation. I am not holding my breath for this one because I do not think there is any urgency on the part of the vendor that approach me originally to sell their property, so this is probably a back-burner project, one for the long run. I approached a number of smaller sites in Houghton Conquest. One I was told had been tried previously by three or four developers and it had been impossible to get agreement on it from all the vendors that will require to make the site work, so that fell by the way-side.

One of the potential vendors in that area was upselling her house. However she had received a very, very strong offer in the past from a developer with a very ambitious scheme. Now my advice was always to look for unambitious schemes that have a high chance of planning permission and try and offer a return to vendors. That gives you a fairly high chance of a successful project when you go to planning, and it also means that there is a potential to upgrade the planning permission if that is possible later on. If the vendor is particularly aware of the potential to upgrade planning permission, they make ask for an additional sum if the planning permission is improved, but in this situation I think the vendor has been given too strong an offer in the past and I just do not think there is much money in it. If the offer comes from a house builder as opposed to someone who wants to obtain planning permission to sell off then obviously there are fewer smells of the chalk to see and it makes it easier to make the project financially viable. So I do not think that that one will be something that will be being pursued in the near future. There were over a couple of other sites in Houghton Conquest that I got some joy from. One was a large bungalow on a fairly large plot towards the centre of the village. The plot had the potential for a rear access and it also has the potential for access around the side of the bungalow to develop a small plot in the back garden for perhaps two bedrooms bungalow. Now this would have taken quite a bit of garden off the main house and would have led to a situation where the garden space are being sacrificed for not terribly large developments. I spoke to the vendors about this and they were a little reluctant to consider selling the garden particularly bearing in mind the amount of money that was likely to be on the table, was not particularly high.

What was however more appealing was the prospect of buying the whole site, pulling down the bungalow and putting up quite a dense development. Next door to the property a small cul-de-sac have been built in perhaps the 1980s in a similar way. So there was definitely a potential for knock down and rebuild in this area. The key to making this site work was getting the property at the right price. This would perhaps been an ideal property to buy and take a planning risk on, it was in the open market but these vendors went in the open market, they were not in any hurry to sell and they were looking for a longer term plan at a high amount of money. There is little point in trying to deal with the vendor if they can get more for their property on the open market, then they cannot be dealing with you and in this case, this was one of those situations. The vendor just simply wanted too much money to make the development to that particular site likely to be viable. Myself then went later to Kensten. I found a long road with long developments found each side of intermittent semis and commercial premises and detach properties. Fairly uniform overall late Victorian properties but with a hodge podge of modern stuff trailing for good measure. You had the things like butchers shops, in-fill properties, small and new developments, and backland sites. There has clearly been a lot of planning potential in this area and a lot of it has been exploited in the past. So I knew I was on to a good thing. There was a great possibility of getting some good sites. The limitation was principally that the land to the rear of the houses, although was enclosed and thus likely to be granted for a backland development, was quite limited in length. The gardens were not very deep. Looking up and down the road a number of properties had had backland developments on them so there was clearly potential for backland and I started writing to the street. It is expensive to post out a large number of letters and also it is rather impersonal, you do not get to talk to people on the street and find out things when you have sent the letter via Royal Mail, so I decided to go and deliver by hand. I had quite a few inquires from the street, although it always amazes me how few enquires you do get.

If someone write to me and ask me if I was interested in selling my house for a substantial sum over market value, I would certainly right back to them, but in practice the response rate from a letter is still only somewhere around 1% to 5%, which in my view is pretty weak. You can improve this response rate by writing back to people, particularly once they may just get involved. Once they have had two or three letters they realise that it is not just a random mail shot and the response rate can go up significantly. Furthermore when you speak to people at their homes after they have enquired,. you get to speak to their neighbours, you meet people on the street, and they are always routines like this. At the last resort there is nothing wron with door-knocking, people can always tell you that they are not interested and they frequently do, but overall with a lot of hard work and a lot of time spent going to see different sites, I eventually got to a situation where I have a few viable sites. The first one was a pair of semi-detached properties, which were up for sale. To the rear of the adjacent property was a car park which served a number of flats and an access road into this potential development site was possible. The disadvantage would be that the two properties would have to be purchased together and have to be both properties together and the resulting development plot would be rather small. That will mean a large amount of cash will have to go in to get a small development site out which is never favourable. However, the site was reasonable contained and there was a significant chance of planning permission, so I persevered. One of the houses was on the open market. One of the houses was not up for sale but the owner is well interested in selling.

There is a lot of history behind the site because one of the vendors had imposed a noise-abatement order on the other because the teenagers were the original ___asbo?_______ kids allegedly and there was lot of bad blood in the situation. The guy had basically been driven out of his house by antisocial behaviour so it was not a situation you really would want to get involved in. You want to get rid of the neighbours as part of the deal. Also they rely on going ahead, at a price which is agreeable to the party that is controlling the access. That is not necessarily going to be that easy to achieve because of the solicitor and you will not get anything past him. The site is currently on hold because it has been one of the properties, the one that is on the open market has been sold and I am waiting for the new owners to get settled in before I approach him again. I did have an enquiry from an Asian gentleman who is looking to sell his property, which have a large double garage. He had already had an enquiry from the builder who wanted to buy the site to develop, I thought planning permission was a dead cert and there was additionally a possibility of getting some land to the rear of the property which will be accessed through an archway between the existing house and the new house that will be build from a garage plot, thus enabling you to go to the bungalow around the back. But again the negotiations in this particular case broke down because the vendor just simply wants too much money for the plot. I ran through the numbers with him and I tried to come down to a reasonable price but if you are competing with a builder who is going to do the developments himself, the profit margins just do not have to be as high for him as if there is somebody else in the chain. So you really cannot compete on price.

The final site that I discovered down this road was a chain of three properties with a rear access across somebody else’s land so that lead to a total of four owners. A bungalow in this situation should be a fairly reliable prospect but obviously that is a lot of people to deal with for a bungalow. But there is a chance of a slightly more intensive development. It just depends on how things go. One of the vendors has the house on the market but they are looking for good money. The house is decorated in a very particular style and it is unlikely to be quick property to sell. He is the middle plot. The lady to the right of him is potentially interested in selling her house at the right price but she would not sell the garden.  The gentleman to the left of him has a long garden which he is not interested in maintaining, but he is very keen to do business, so that is good. The rear assess is controlled from a property on another street. Currently, it is one of the only detached properties in the street and they have spoken to the vendors. They are interested in doing business but they do not want to lose the exclusive use of their property. They are not up to sharing the drive so they would have to either sell the land to me and then sell the house on elsewhere or tentatively sell the house to me outright. If they did so then that would mean that there was a significant possibility of doing a semi-detached developments rather than doing developments, which was just a bungalow on its own. This would lead to a bigger house and hopefully a high development value for the plot. I am waiting to see what is the negotiation of the owners or how the negotiations of owners progress on price, so that I can see if the development is likely to be viable. I am fairly confident of planning permission for this and I am particularly for a semi because I do not think that would be controversial at all.

Overall with Land Projects UK, the scheme seems to be relatively effective, quite easy to follow and anybody with a reasonable amount of knowledge of property can start making progress on this scheme relatively quickly. It does require a bit of effort and the sundry costs are not inconsiderate, you do have to print a lot of letters and do quite a few miles going back and fourth visiting owners. So you should be prepared to put some money aside every month to run these projects. However the gains are very low risk and there are potentials once you go into a deal to make tens of thousands of pounds or possibly even hundreds of thousands of pounds on the individual deals. So the rewards are there by our very high levels of profit available for people who pursue the system diligently, negotiate good deals and end up in a situation where they control attractive development sites for sales so we are planning with ease. I think that if you are the kind of property investor or trader or developer who would like to have a portion of projects which are cheap to run but potentially profitable in their tool kit then this is a great scheme for you to use the Land Projects UK System. Although I am at a relatively early stage and I have not taken any of the sites to final negotiations or non-option agreements or apply for planning permission. I can see the merits of working with the system. I can see the merits of the website. I can see the merits of sharing the profit with Land Projects UK. The amount of money they asked with each development is really quite small.

The involvement time wise is quite low and they are not risking very much in each individual site, so it makes sense from their point of view. They leave a lot more in the pot for you than when dealing as a developer’s agent. Land Projects UK take a 20% cut, the developer I was dealing with wanted a 50% cut and at the end of the day, the Land Projects UK System is more organised and more developed, generally backs up than the system that was run by the other developer and I have got a lots of faith in it. It is something I will be continuing to follow for quite some time. It is not a system in which you can expect to work with a minimal time investment. It does take commitment. It does take quite a long time to see success, you should expect a learning curve, you should expect to have many setbacks before you get a project that goes through and the costs swell are not something you could ignore. You are not talking about the equivalent of a deposit on a house, you are talking about quite low level of investment 100 or so pounds a month for the first four months and you should be in a situation where you have got some projects which are viable.

Overall if you are the kind of person who wants to make some pretty impressive profit and you are prepared to spend a little bit of money with the risk getting nothing back in return and you are prepared to put some graft in, then Land Projects UK is a great system in almost all areas of the country. I thoroughly recommend joining the scheme and I hope that people who do so have great success. This is exactly the kind of development that the UK needs, not building on Greenfield sites by massive development company. The small scale development fits in well with the existing communities and allows people to use existing facilities like roads and public transport system. It really adds to the contribution to the local community and while some individual sites might be a little controversial, in the grand scheme of things, I think they will follow the system will not only be lining their own pocket but also adding a great benefit to the UK. I would like to be proud of what I do and I think the people who follow the Land Projects UK System will be proud of what they do too.