How to Find a Development Site in Westfield Indiana or any other city in the world

The ultimate added value in real estate investing is taking a piece of bare ground and turning it into a viable and profitable location for business.  For example at the corner of Wheeler Rd and SR 32 the Monon Marketplace was just farm ground a few years ago.  Today it is a 2 building retail center with thriving and growing businesses that have capitalized on traffic and access along SR 32.  That piece of ground could still be farm ground today but a developer, armed with a local broker and  was confident in the market took the risk to build what the local traffic needed and in return it is a successful profitable piece of real estate.  So how do you do that?  As a broker that specializes in Westfield land I can’t think of a shorter more efficient route to finding a development site in Westfield Indiana or wherever you may be, then hiring a local broker.

Hire a local broker – I don’t care if they work for a nation residential brokerage, the largest commercial brokerage or a one man shop, you have to hire someone that is local.  I am not talking local as in lives in the area or region but in the precise city that you are wanting to develop in.  This is for one reason only and that is because they have a better pulse on activity, the tenants and who is doing well far beyond what any regional broker can have.  A local broker knows every corner and site that may be on the market or off and most importantly who owns it with a phone call or email.  For years I have gotten calls from Indy brokers that have a client looking to develop in Westfield and they don’t know what the heck is going on.  Don’t waste your time being loyal when they are not your best advisor and will lose you money in the end.  Get on the internet or costar or the blc and find out who is doing the deals in that market.  One car ride will show you who has the signs out or stopping by the local Chamber office and just asking will lead you to the top broker to be working with.  

Follow the leaders – Every city or town has a council or commission making decisions on zoning and uses allowed in their community.  Many times they have a suggestion or plan that can guide you as to where and who they want projects and with a little research you can find out what exactly they are going to approve and where.  Want to upset the councils?  Show up with 3 attorneys and a national broker with briefcases and try to bully your project onto a site.  It just won’t happen if it is not what they are looking for or you don’t take them seriously.  The best practice is have your local broker use her relationships to build a rapport between your team, your project and the leadership of that community.  Not only will you not waste time but you will also save face and earn the respect for your next project in that market.  

Water and Sewer – I can’t tell you how many projects and ideas are paused once they realize there are no utilities or capacity of water and sewer at the location they are looking for.  Again, another reason to use a local broker and their contacts is to streamline the learning process.  If you follow the utilities you will have a much better idea as to which sites can be developed in budget and quickly.  The last thing a developer wants to do is run utilities 3 miles to develop a property but if you understand the current grid and future plans, it makes site selection a much more accurate task.  Most utility companies have a local advisor that can quickly share with your team availability and I promise you the best local brokers know them by name and can get you an answer today on what might be available.  

Research – I will never understand the idea of being the 17th automotive service company in a market that all the others seem to be running on 2 employees and all the residents drive new cars.  I am sure they all have an expensive consultant telling them what the demographics are and where to be but at some point a little research and local knowledge can go a long way.  Why not ask the local broker of emerging sites that a large number of homes are being developed around or is being expanded for more traffic?  I understand that Burger King and McDonald’s paved the way for being adjacent to the competition but why not look for even better opportunities.  Same goes for industrial uses and retailers.  We speak to both developers and from the sky there are no great places to construct a new project but once we have a call or spend some time in the market, they are always surprised at what is actually there.  Spending the time researching a market for accurate data as well as trends and planning will always give you a leg up on the typical placement.  

Is this a pitch for my services?  Yes but it is also a pitch for the broker that specializes in Fishers Indiana or Haughville or any other market that you may be considering.  There is no replacement for really good information and saving you time on planning and market activity.  Try it and you will be impressed at how much more these local brokers know about their area then a national brands focused on being everything to everyone.  

Curt has been in the Indianapolis Real Estate business for over 15 years and spent his first years learning all aspects of commercial management and brokerage.  He has had great success in managing existing commercial projects and new retail and office developments.  Curt specializes in building owner representation and purchases in the Westfield Indiana market as well throughout the Indianapolis Metro area.  Curt is passionate about growing the local Westfield community and in his free time  volunteers with Student Impact and raising 2 children with his wife Jennifer.