Some home truths about borrowing against future development sites: HoldenCAPITAL

Some home truths about borrowing against future development sites: HoldenCAPITAL
Some home truths about borrowing against future development sites: HoldenCAPITAL

Some home truths about borrowing against future development sites: HoldenCAPITAL


Often property developers, particularly inexperienced or would be developers, will purchase a residential or rural property with view to redeveloping it into townhouses or apartment style developments or residential allotments.

With the current high demand for redevelopment sites, often the purchase price is inflated when compared to similar properties in the immediate surrounds which may not possess redevelopment potential. The developer can justify paying a higher price based on the project profit they can forecast to earn.

Despite the property being a residentially zoned, the trap that the inexperienced buyers fall into is in incorrectly believing that they can obtain residential property finance to purchase what is really a development site. 

Which raises the question of what are the requirements when seeking residential finance as opposed to site funding?

Residential property finance (Investment Loan or Home Loan), can be obtained if the site is purchased for a comparable price to neighboring residential properties, or the applicants have owned the property for a long time or the borrower can demonstrate an ability to service the proposed debt. 

The first hurdle our developer applicants face is a requirement to demonstrate their servicing capacity, however many developers do not have consistent cash flows and the rental income is rarely enough resulting in a servicing shortfall. 

The second stumbling black occurs when the property is valued for the lender and the question arises, is it a residential property or a development site for the purposes of the valuation?

The API regulates the valuation industry heavily and Professional Indemnity insurance is expensive. Claims by lenders can have a huge impact on the valuer’s business costs. So, when conducting a valuation on a residential property, the valuer typically searches for comparable sales in the area to support the purchase price. If the valuer cannot find comparable sales evidence they are unlikely to support pioneering values and will typically discount their valuation accordingly.

A development valuation involves the use of a feasibility analysis of the proposed project and considers the project and development viability in greater detail than a residential valuation based on comparable sales.

Do your own research on the market and provide the valuer with supporting sales evidence that you have collected, don’t rely on the valuer to do all the research or have access to the most recent sales.

When should I order a valuation: The best results occur when the valuer is engaged early, the main benefit of early engagement is that the process allows the developer to assess the valuation risk prior to the settlement occurring. If the valuation comes in short the whole project can fall over very quickly if more equity cannot be secured or settlement extensions cannot be granted. Speak to your broker about the most suitable valuer to engage.

 It is important to have all information ready and organized to send to the valuer upon engagement.

Recently a client contracted to purchase a residential property with development potential for $1.5m with a 12 month settlement period to allow the client sufficient time to achieve development approval with a neighboring development site. The client expected to finance 80% of the purchase price and obtain a loan for $1.2m.

A residential valuer was engaged and responded very quickly with a valuation of $1.2m, a $300,000 discount to the purchase price of $1.5m. The valuer correctly reasoned that the purchase price was outside of the normal range for this location. The valuer noted the redevelopment potential but without a detailed feasibility analysis or council development approval they could not accurately gauge the value of this development potential.

With HCAP involvement we managed to obtain loan for 100% of the valuation figure via a structured debt facility that layered the capital stack with 1st and 2nd mortgage funding by highlighting to the lender the redevelopment potential of the property that the valuer was unable to do. The client was able to settle the acquisition and now has time to obtain the relevant approvals before obtaining finance for stage 1 construction with a full development valuation.

If you are buying a development site, best to engage your valuer early and ensure that you speak to an experienced construction finance broker who can assist you to navigate through this process.


This article was written by Dan Holden of HoldenCAPITAL, who are a bespoke construction finance firm, they arrange construction finance and invest in projects through their equity fund, Queen Street INVEST. To discuss your project finance requirement please call (07) 3171 4200 or visit HoldenCAPITAL here.

Dan Holden

Dan Holden

Dan Holden is Director of HoldenCAPITAL

Property Development Residential Market

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