What is real estate development?

A short answer is:

Development is the process of producing the making of a product, and optimizing its economics. (As opposed to directly “making” the product, which is more the construction piece)  
In real estate, development is at the intersection of a Venn diagram of architecture, finance, law, politics, art, engineering, sociology, construction, and communication.
A developer, at the center, is the entrepreneur who draws from those allied fields and produces a building.
A successful developer is one who produces a building that works, and has a new economic life that is sustainable, and benefits its city, its occupants, and its neighbors.

A slightly longer answer is:

Development is the process of making a new building happen, and have a new and viable economic life. It can be a new building, constructed from the ground up, or a rehabilitated and repositioned existing building that has a new purpose. It can also involve multiple properties and portfolios.  The economic life of a building can be broken down into three major industries: Development, Property Management, and Transaction. Property Management is the middle, stable phase, and is basically the ongoing operation of a building. Transaction is also relatively simple in concept; this is the buying or selling of a property to either develop, and add value, or to exit a holding a capture the inherent value that the developer had created.

Development itself is a complex, multivariable process, and must take into account both Property Management and Transaction pieces. Development itself is broken down into 4 main activity phases: Concept, Design, Build, and Recycle. See below for details.

At all stages, the goal of development is to minimize risk while optimizing value, equity outcomes, and the urban and community good. Successful development practice requires pragmatism, discipline with money, instant knowledge of how all the pieces connect, ready solutions, and hard-won experience.

Century works with property owners, investors, other developers, designers, and lenders who have property they wish to not just develop, but make better. Our city does not need more development, it needs better development: better architectural design, tighter economics, and better outcomes, executed through care and an obsession with details, because ultimately the all matter.


The energy and ready capital of the current market conditions has made it easy to get into development. When problems come up, an experienced developer [ Century ] will know how to solve problems, optimize economics, and steer development back on the path of a viable economic life.