Help! How Do I Choose A Council To Farm?
If you’re going to make it as a property developer, you’ll need to be able to sell the blocks of land and new dwellings that you create. So you don’t want to take pot luck on location – you’ll want to take a careful look at which area has the most potential for success using your chosen development strategy.

You’ll quickly discover there are 537 councils in Australia, and because each council has its own rules and regulations, that means there are 537 different ways of executing your chosen development strategy.

Whether you intend to do sub-divisions or splitters, duplexes or townhouses, brownfield or greenfield development, the best way to maximise your opportunities is to choose one council and become an expert in the development rules of that council.

But how do you pick just one council when there are so many to choose from?

For most of us it makes sense to choose from the councils in our own state or territory. Not only are we likely to be most familiar with the councils in our own backyard, sticking within our own borders puts a limit on how far we’ll need to travel to run our development projects.

Now it’s a case of whittling dozens of councils down to the one that looks like your best bet for development success. We kick off this process by reading our state or territory’s strategic plan, a hefty document that will help us understand the government’s population growth plans.

These plans set out a vision to manage growth and change for a given area in the context of social, economic and environmental matters. What we’re looking for is information on where the government intends to funnel population growth via housing supply strategies and new or improved infrastructure.

You’re likely to find a handful of councils in your state or territory where the government intends to increase population density. You can use Google to check the population forecasts – we’re looking for a significant population increase to support new residential development. These are the councils you’ll want to focus on.

To whittle the list down further, you’ll need to factor in two key considerations: your development strategy and your risk profile.

Your chosen council will need to support profitable projects using your chosen strategy in the deal size determined by your risk profile.
Every strategy works, but it doesn’t work everywhere.

Let me give you an example. If your strategy is sub-division, you’ll need to weigh up the size of sub-division you’re comfortable with for your first deal. If it’s a four-lot sub-division, you’ll then need to figure out if there are plenty of opportunities for four-lot sub-divisions in the council areas with strong growth indicators including high population forecasts.

Start with the council that is geographically closest to you.

If you can target a council that’s geographically close to home, it’s going to be much easier for you to whip out and attend meetings on site rather than drive two hours to the other side of town and then two hours home again.

If you can’t find exactly what you’re after in that council, then take a look at the next closest one.
There are great suburb research tools that can help you to fast-track this process. You can search by district within the parameters of your strategy, using land size to filter thousands of sites down to developable sites. The idea is to find the council closest to your home base with hundreds of potential sites.

So for our example of a four-lot sub-division, you’ll be looking for larger blocks of land zoned for low to medium density. This up-front legwork takes some time, but it’s worth it in the long run because you’ll be honing in on a council with loads of development opportunities. If you trust the process, you’ll increase your chances of success.

And when you’ve locked in your council, you can study your council’s strategic plan and the rules that apply to your strategy and begin to build your expertise in your chosen area ready to kick off the next stage of your property development journey: suburb analysis.

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