How to identify a reputable property developer

There’s no two ways about it: buying a property can be a stress-riddled time in anyone’s life. Add to the bewilderment you could potentially buy off-plan and suddenly the whole process feels fraught with risk.

For shrewd homebuyers, however, dealing with instinctive feelings of doubt and overwhelm can be offset with the right type of due diligence – namely by knowing who you’re buying from. With that said, here’s our take on how to identify a reputable property developer. But first…

What is a property developer?

A property developer is responsible for building and/or land being developed to raise its value. As well as an in-depth understanding of the planning and building process, developers will also require advice, permissions and knowledge from:

  • planning consultants
  • architects
  • selling agents
  • solicitors
  • trades
  • local authority
  • quantity surveyors
  • accountants

Whether it’s developing from the ground up, renovating an existing property, or converting properties to serve a different function, the role of a developer can be complex and rewarding often in equal measures.

Independent developers versus national developers

Quite often, national developers build sites consisting of hundreds (and sometimes thousands) of individual units. For a potential homebuyer, it means you’re likely to deal with an appointed third-party agent who manages each property’s marketing and sales process.

In most cases, it means you’re relying on limited second-hand knowledge passed from a developer to a selling agent. And while you might find it’s enough to answer your questions during a viewing, most homebuyers would prefer to speak directly to the developer.

It’s one of the understated benefits of dealing with an independent property developer – and one which provides peace of mind with questions answered with definitive depth and clarity.

Whether it’s a query about a minor design detail, booking a viewing, or receiving general updates on timeframes and completion, having direct contact with your developer throughout construction is a benefit to any homebuyer.

Benefits of dealing with a reputable property developer

Knowledge of local area

Unlike some national outfits, it’s not uncommon for independent property developers to invest in sites where they have strong local knowledge.

For you and similar-minded buyers, it means you’ll benefit from all-important information about nearby amenities, facilities and transport links to help you make an informed decision whether a property is right for you.

A personalised service

Beyond the appeal of a glossy logo and an impressive property portfolio, some buyers like to know the face behind a brand – something you’ll likely experience when dealing with an independent developer.

While it might be assuring to deal with those with a reputable track record, adding a personalised service can provide the added assurance you need to make the right decision.

David's hands-on, passionate and has abundant enthusiasm

Having purchased houses by some of the bigger, familiar developers in the past, my wife and I were immediately impressed by David’s hands-on, passionate and personal investment in the design, construction and overall aesthetic of his builds. In fact, it was in no small part down to David’s personal contact, and abundant enthusiasm for the project, that we offered on one of the Blackthorn properties on the very same day we were shown round the site and designs – and up the scaffolding a number of times for the full experience! Despite moving during lockdown, David made the whole process both smooth and bespoke, and was impressively responsive and proactive to queries and issues raised along the way. Now we have been in our beautiful home for two years, we can thoroughly recommend Blackthorn Homes, and David himself as a local, authentic developer, with the vision and humanity to make this crucial purchase a real success.

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Homeowners at our Hextable development

Maria and James

Design and build expertise

Where a sales agent might become unstuck when asked technical questions about your future home, a developer can answer every question with confidence.

From design decisions and to material specifications to timeframes and estimated completion dates, liaising directly with a developer makes sense for many reasons.

What to check before dealing with a property developer

To make your due diligence process a little easier, here are some priority checks to make before engaging with any property developer.

Track record

Checking how long the company has been established is a sensible start to your search. It’s also worth verifying the number of projects completed, and whether any are similar to the development where you’ve expressed an interest.


A property developer might try to win your confidence with impressive buzzwords and glossy property images, but what matters most is the voice of previous buyers. For that reason, always check reviews on Trustpilot, Google or any other credible platform.

Beyond buyers, it’s also a good idea to check reviews from peers – those in the industry who might be better placed to recommend a property developer.

Good work, David.

One of the best managed small developments I’ve seen built out. Very professional.

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Director at Offset Architects

Rob Colley

Qualifications and memberships

Together with the necessary qualifications, having links to industry accreditors and awarding bodies is a rubber stamp of approval. At Blackthorn Homes, we are proud to be part of:

  • Home Builders Federation (HBF)
  • Construction Skills Certificate Scheme (CSSC)
  • Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS)
  • Chartered Building Company
  • Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB)
  • Considerate Constructors Partner

Our Managing Director, David James, has also received Fellowship status with both RICS and CIOB.

Social footprint

Checking a developer’s online presence can help you better understand the people behind the business. Although you shouldn’t be swayed by marketing efforts alone, checking posts, comments and shared connections can provide valuable insight to help you make a decision.

If you have any questions about property development or want to enquire about our properties for sale, fill in our quick and easy contact form.

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