We are a boutique company, helping clients achieve high uplift faster through expertly researched, custom-built duplexes and small developments.
The WolfeSmiths team specialises in small-medium residential property developments. Our expertise is in researching and identifying locations and opportunities that can generate higher uplift, sooner. Now ranging from $1.5m for duplex projects, all the way up to townhouse projects that may exceed $5m – $10m. All the while keeping the client’s goals and strategy in mind, which may require we target areas with the potential for strong capital growth, and rental prospects too. Note lower priced projects are possible, but are now rare.
For the clients we work with, it can open up new possibilities for experiencing a potential return without needing to wait decades, like traditional property investment. The aim is to use short-term gains, grow their portfolio, and improve their lifestyle in time.
To see what we mean, and how custom-built duplexes can help reduce overall timeframes while increasing uplift potential, see our approach in focus here.
In property development, uplift is the positive difference between the value of the completed project vs the land, construction and development costs. End values are not simply based on our assumptions, but are based on appraisals provided to you from at least three local agents at the time of assessing a new deal.
Most property investments involve buying a single house or apartment and using the ‘buy-and-hold’ approach. Such investors usually have to rely solely, or at least largely on market growth to achieve a positive return, which can result in a long waiting period of sustained costs and negative cash flow.
By contrast, with a duplex investment you subdivide one block of land to create two dwellings on separate titles. Rather than passively waiting for the market to move in your favour, the aim is to proactively create equity (uplift) in your investment. Though this brings its own challenges, it is generally much more controllable than waiting for markets to move by themselves.
The location of any property investment is crucial, but even more so when targeting high uplift as well as strong long-term growth and rental prospects. Uncovering locations where the land and build costs are affordable enough whilst the end values are high is challenging, and is one of the key elements of being able to generate high uplift in approximately 15-24 months.
Simply put, high uplift duplex projects are not feasible everywhere, which is why we protect the interests of our existing clients and business by not advertising the specific project locations publicly.
The good news is this info can be made available to you through our simple process. Find out what to expect when you enquire further below. What we can say is the areas tend to be stunning! This is not a reason to invest in itself but the surroundings certainly assist with demand at completion.
HOW WE GENERATE HIGHER UPLIFT WITH CUSTOM-BUILT DUPLEXES
*See disclaimer below
Why limit yourself to cookie-cutter designs suitable for new or ‘vanilla’ land only? Multiple, pedestrian properties in new land estates, where the scope for uplift and long-term growth can be limited and competition for tenants or buyers at completion can be high. Instead of limiting yourself to new land developments, custom builds open up more land opportunities to investors in well-established locations.
Uplift can be achieved by selecting the right area alone, where the gap between land and construction prices vs existing dwellings is wide. Diligent research and on-the-ground knowledge enables us to hone in on locations with proven track records of sales and rental demand where high uplift is possible. Within such locations, we are often able to find niche developments, including infill sites that others miss. We can offer the opportunity to build uniquely designed homes, even on challenging terrain. The ‘one-of-a-kind’ nature of such properties can increase uplift potential.
Though we do have access to off-market opportunities, having the right team to assess this is crucial, especially if you want to be confident in securing a feasible project while competing with the open market.
WolfeSmiths’ capabilities allow us to widen investors’ horizons to more opportunities. This drastically reduces your wait time to get into a project because there is ALWAYS land available somewhere.
Because new, registered land that is suitable for duplexes is extremely rare, this often saves our clients 12-24+ months in comparison to waiting for new land to become available, and then to register. New land is suitable for some investors for this very reason, as it can mean you can secure land prior to being financially ready. But for those who are ready to get started, infill locations can offer the best opportunities for registered land that is ready to develop and build on right away! We separate ourselves from the pack by having more options available to investors to better suit their specific situation and goals and this is one of the main reasons clients choose WolfeSmiths.
Our design and planning processes are informed and aided by on-the-ground knowledge and appraisals from local contacts and agents. This helps to align the features of the project with the needs and demands of local buyers or tenants. With the help of local agents, we aim to increase uplift potential by focusing on features that add real-life value. Our clients can find the key features on which to spend money, with a lower risk of over-capitalising on unnecessary items. When assessing the value of a project, you need a professional, unbiased view. The end value of proposed projects is never assumed by our team, but is ALWAYS based on external appraisals from AT LEAST three local property agents. All of which are provided to you with full contact details.
Custom builds do create their own challenges. You cannot know your exact build price before securing the land, as you would not go to the effort and pay the associated costs to design something on a block you have not yet secured. See below some ways in which we mitigate these risks and if you do end up enquiring, be sure to ask more about how we have been able to manage this with our many clients thus far. Even during the recent unpredictable market with rising inflation and construction costs occurring at a time when property markets were softening.
Ways to minimise the risk of blowing budget and diminishing returns:
We recognise a custom approach appears to come with a little more uncertainty at the time of purchase in comparison to a cookie-cutter investment that MAY come with a fixed price build contract. In saying that, we have seen builders go bust because of ‘fixed price’ contracts and have also seen ‘fixed-price’ contracts rescinded by builders only to have the price increased via a new contract anyway. At the end of the day, you want your builder to be profitable too. Prior property investment experience and construction experience is beneficial. Previous development experience is a bonus too! All of this simply means you are more aware of what to expect. If you do not have previous experience but see the many benefits of custom builds, and are comfortable with being supported by experienced professionals, then this could still work for you.
One of the main reasons new clients have confidence proceeding with a WolfeSmiths project is our impeccable record with approvals! To date, we have never been declined by councils for a non-compliant project!
A consultation with one of our founders or senior team members gives you the chance to ask us any questions. It enables us to gain a solid understanding of your wider investment aims and what you are looking for, as well as giving you the chance to learn about our projects, processes, key benefits and our experience in greater detail. All of which is usually completed in 30 minutes over a Zoom call from the comfort of your home or office. If you continue, we’ll be working quite closely together on your project, and hopefully many more in the future, so it’s important we’re both upfront and open about our expectations.
If you decide you are not quite ready to start your duplex investment journey, you can still keep up to speed via our mailing list, where you will receive new opportunities weekly and you can follow us on social media.
FYI you will receive a short connecting call from one of our team upon enquiring to ensure we are the right company to help you, prior to booking your consultation with a senior team member. This call can be as quick as 5 minutes.
If after our consult you would like to proceed, you would opt into our VIP program. This gives you early access to all of the information on duplex and development opportunities as they arise. You’ll receive all info prior to our general mailing list to give you first rights (along with other VIPs) to the best projects. This requires a $1k +GST fully refundable engagement deposit. This deposit ensures we are sharing valuable information and IP with serious enquiries only. It keeps our strategy, preferred locations, and project specifics safe from the wider public, to help safeguard opportunities for clients and ensure you’re hearing about them first. There are no refund conditions, you simply request for your deposit back and whether you decide to go ahead or not, the only consequence in either case is that you lose VIP access to any new projects.
As a VIP, we provide you with full details of potential duplex opportunities, taking into account your investment experience and preferences. This includes:
Regardless of how many projects you assess and which one(s) you ultimately secure, one of our experienced team members will be there to help you sift through everything, with all info provided to you in writing via email.
Similar to an architect or engineer, our fees are paid as we progress your project through the development process. We are not real estate agents and DO NOT take any commissions on the sale of land or real estate. Often, the cost of our fee is offset by the savings from the sharp m2 rate we receive from builders due to the volume of work we provide them. Rebates are also an option, speak to us to find out how this works. All our research and site spotting is conducted at our risk.
There are of course many other costs required to get through the council, such as your custom design, site surveys and reports, council contributions and more but please note that these are factored into and included within all estimates provided.
The location selected depends on our client’s brief. Among others, factors to consider include uplift potential, long-term growth prospects, rental yield and tenancy demand. Different areas offer different benefits and are appraised accordingly, in line with the priorities of our client.
An investor planning to ‘flip’ might prioritise high, short-term uplift. Someone with a low-risk appetite may be more interested in strong rental yield and tenancy demand. Others may prioritise long-term equity growth over short-term uplift. Or, they may want a balance. All of this is considered to identify an area aligned with our client’s goals.
The key information provided here is the detailed site assessment; reviewing all planning guidelines, contractual restrictions such as covenants and easements, and the specific site characteristics. Along with cost estimates and multiple agent appraisals to help determine end value and uplift potential. See the Access To All The Info section above for a detailed list of information provided.
We work with agents, builders and developers to find high uplift opportunities, at times securing off-market lots exclusive to WolfeSmiths. Extensive due diligence is carried out to ensure the suitability of every opportunity.
All projects are custom designed, with the intention of meeting the demands of the local demographic. We aim to achieve the best possible outcome, making the most of the block and working with our network, including local agents, to better inform decisions on factors such as bedroom numbers, design and inclusions. We lean on these local professionals, aiming to balance design and inclusions vs cost to increase uplift potential. Our professional building designers have vast experience in all our key uplift locations, with a proven track record of high-quality designs across many LGAs. They work to the relevant council or private certifier guidelines during the process.
Refer to Why Custom Builds? above for more information.
We have an extensive network of trusted builders to work with. If a new builder is required for a niche location, we ensure they are thoroughly reference-checked. We have an in-house Building Liaison Officer who monitors onboarding and is responsible for the ongoing management of all our builder partners. With their guidance, and that of local agents, we are able to help with inclusions and finishes selections while cross-checking pricing to ensure it is competitive. We can source multiple tenders if requested and warranted, though WolfeSmiths and our clients are incentivised to work with specific builders consistently as the volume allows us to achieve better prices. Regardless, the final choice will always be made by the client.
Our fee is often partly, or at times completely absorbed by the sharp prices we achieve through these relationships. This effectively means we could work for you for the same cost as if you were to go directly to the builder! All headworks required to obtain approvals are included in the build contract or the associated preliminary agreement too. This includes your custom design, consultants and reports, town planning, council contributions, subdivision and more!
We navigate what is often the most gruelling aspect of property development: the approval process. The challenges encountered here can vary widely from project to project and council to council. Planning codes can also change. Through extensive upfront site assessments, we can significantly mitigate planning risks faced by our clients.
In some situations, we are able to work with private certifiers who can bypass the council process altogether and provide approvals much faster! This can save months and $1000s in holding costs for clients. The downside of this process, compared to the normal council process, is that the rules are much more strict. Whereas with council, there is often more flexibility. We have been successful in the past pushing outside council guidelines in order to get more favourable designs. The best approach for any given project depends on the site, the best design outcome, and the priorities of the client. To date, WolfeSmiths has never had a project declined due to a non-compliant project proposal.
We oversee the construction stage all the way through to handover. We realise that for some of the people we work with, this may be their first ever development project, and take great pride in our approachability and transparency. Though most of our work is done through the earlier stages, construction is still a major part of any project. Throughout the entire process, you will have a dedicated point of contact; someone who is always in-the-know, and who delivers regular updates as information becomes available. At completion, we can engage independent inspectors on your behalf to ensure quality, if desired.
We complete the subdivision and titling, the cost of which is generally included in the build contract. We then engage relevant agents to assist with leasing and managing or selling if desired. We can also help with referrals for depreciation schedules or refinancing to access additional equity for the next investment. If you are ready to take the next step in your investment journey by adding another duplex to your growing property portfolio, we will be ready to help you go again. This is what many of our clients choose to do.