Our Property Development Journey: Part One

Laura Butler-Madden's Property Development Journey

It’s been lovely as always being back in Pollensa, but this trip I felt a little more nostalgic than usual. For it was here that Patrick and I started our property development journey in 2009.

I had moved to the island on my own the summer before; my parents were running a property development business with a local man in Pollensa – they had bought a plot of land in the town back in the 1990s, with permission to build four new houses with swimming pools and renovate and extend the existing farmhouse, which was charming, but crumbling.

Laura Butler-Madden's Property Development Journey

They so far built and sold two of the houses and by summer 2008 were completing their own house, the original farmhouse which was being updated and extended.

In the summer of 2008 the crisis was starting in Spain and it became apparent that things were most certainly not what they seemed with the business. This was not unusual on the island – cracks were starting to appear in lots of businesses – when the market is good, these things are harder to spot.

Laura Butler-Madden's Property Development Journey

My family and I decided that I should move out and get more involved in the business, to try to get to the bottom of what was going on.

Fast forward a year and I had met Patrick, he had moved to Pollensa too and I was now running the business full time (having parted ways with my parents’ original business partner – now only communicating through lawyers).

Laura Butler-Madden's Property Development Journey

It was a time of great stress and change for me – previously I had been working as a publicist in London so a very different role, but the silver lining to all this was that I felt I had truly found my calling. I loved everything about property development, from the accounts and spreadsheets to the creative elements, including interior design and even the organisation and project management.

Laura Butler-Madden's Property Development Journey

In Autumn 2009 we took over project managing the build of the final house in the development. To say we were thrown in the deep end is a slight understatement, but it meant that we had to learn fast! It was the largest house, with the best views and we had to sell it well to maximise profit and pay off the debts that had been incurred by the ex-business partner.

Laura Butler-Madden's Property Development Journey

We were also quite up against it timingwise – we had to get the house complete and sold before the Mallorca market got any worse. We were lucky in that it was slightly behind the terrible crash that had happened on the mainland, so we hoped that we had a little bit of time before the buyers totally dried up here.

Laura Butler-Madden's Property Development Journey

We put together a great team and worked hard to complete the house in six months. We managed this and were very lucky that a buyer approached us when it was almost complete. The house is in a unique location in the town with stunning views and was also very unique property, so it stood out and sold where others were starting to struggle. I will go into more detail about this in a future post about things to look for when buying a house to develop, but being unique and standing out from the crown is a real bonus, whether that be through location or the property itself.

Laura Butler-Madden's Property Development Journey
We were incredibly lucky and sold the house in 2010, just before the Mallorca market dried up totally for many years. Now the Mallorca market is back to booming again, which makes sense. People often say it goes in seven year cycles and here we are again in a seller’s market for the first time in years.

Laura Butler-Madden's Property Development Journey

Laura Butler-Madden's Property Development Journey

So being back in Pollensa and seeing the first house that we built (with the help of our wonderful builders!) is always a bit emotional. But especially this year as we have decided to pause our property development business for now – another thing I will talk more about in a future post, but one of the most important things to know with property development, is when to stop.

Laura Butler-Madden's Property Development Journey

Laura Butler-Madden's Property Development Journey

Currently the property market, taxes and political landscape just feel too uncertain for us to continue – that’s not to say we won’t start again when things are more stable, but for now it’s time to take a much needed break to focus on our other work.  For Patrick that’s his photography and for me, my blog and design work.

Laura x

Laura Butler-Madden's Property Development Journey

Photography by Patrick Butler-Madden

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