Valuation Methods. Residual

This article should be read in conjunction with the Property Speculator’s Residual Valuation calculator.

The Residual method of valuation is used to establish how much should be paid for development land or a project in an undeveloped state.

The first value that has to be established is the Gross Development Value (GDV).  This is essentially the total value of the completely finished project.  Some important considerations are:

  • If a project containing multiple dwellings is to be analysed, the GDV will be based upon the total value obtained from the sale of all the units. The value that can be obtained on the market can be expressed as a rate per M² and can be established through the study of comparable, similar properties recent sold prices (NOT the values they are offered at).
  • When establishing the total value of the finished project, remember that common areas such as stairways, hallways and foyers are not included within this value, but they will be included in build costs.

The second value to be looked at is the total costs of the project.  This will include build costs, consultant’s fees, finance costs, infrastructure/landscaping costs and any obligation for S.106 agreement (a contribution to the Local Council in connection with the project).  Considerations are:

  • As mentioned above, build costs will include the total value of the units to be sold and any common built areas. Build costs can range from £600 per M² to £1600 per M² depending on the area of your project (obviously London/South east will be more expensive than Northern England and Wales) the required quality of finish and who you intend to do the work (Main Contractors is the most expensive route).  An article on build costs is planned for the very near future.  VAT can often be reclaimed on many costs involved with new-builds.
  • The amount spent on consultants will vary according to the size of the project. However for the purpose of appraising the project, using percentages is the most appropriate way for the majority of projects to be looked at.  VAT will almost always be payable on consultants fees.
  • Site infrastructure will include drainage, water, gas and electricity supplies. For small projects, the cost will be negligible and the same goes for landscaping costs.  This is why a percentage calculation is appropriate.
  • Finance costs will depend heavily upon the amount borrowed and the rate it’s borrowed at. If the project is intended to be solely a development (rather than a development with the aim of letting at the end of the construction phase) then the costs should be recouped as soon as possible.  Obviously the longer it takes to recoup all construction costs; the more must be paid in finance costs.  For the purposes of calculation, a construction period of 1-12 months and a post-construction marketing period of 2-8 months should cover the vast majority of situations.
  • 106 costs will be related to how the project as a whole ‘fits in’ to the local environment. A contribution is often requested by the local authority to pay for changed infrastructure to serve the project.  This might be a widened road leading to the development to serve the occupants.  Follow the link to read more about s.106 obligations for developers.
  • Estate agents fees are quite negotiable depending on the size of the development. It would not be unreasonable to attempt negotiate a slight discount of half a percent or so for sole agents that will be acting for a large development.

The next figure is the required profit level.  This is often calculated as a percentage of the GDV value.  It’s important that the profit is considered in the equation, because it’s surprising how many novice developers regard a profit as a bonus.  To continue developing property must be regarded as a business.  If no profit is made, then the business will not survive for long.

Clearly, the higher the required profit level, the less will be available to purchase the land.  So a balance must be struck.  Profits could be around 33% of GDV (a very crude assessment of a property development was’ 1/3rd for land costs, 1/3rd for build costs and 1/3rd for profit’).  This might still be attainable now, but in practice, it certainly helps to be conservative and cautious when appraising a development.

The final and eventual figure to be generated is the sum available for land purchase.  This can be changed considerably if the input figures are changed.  In fact one of the criticisms of the residual valuation method is that for relatively small changes in the input figures, large changes in the eventual values can be seen.  This is why it helps to be cautious with input figures, overestimation of costs is better than underestimation.

The land purchase figure is the figure that forms the basis of your negotiation.  If the property is being bid on at an auction, obviously no opportunity to negotiate will exist.  It will however provide you with a good idea of how your project finances will work and if you bid above your ideal value, the other figures will be reduced accordingly (profit is usually first to suffer).

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