Midlands based IM Properties (IMP) has launched a new strategic land division, backed by a £1.34 billion portfolio in response to the national acute housing shortage.
The new venture – IM Land – will identify, acquire and promote new residential sites to sell onto housebuilders and developers, headed by the group’s strategic land director, Jonathan Dyke, and supported by some of the housing industry’s leading professionals.
The team, headhunted over the past 12 months, comprises senior strategic planning manager, Sarah Milward from Taylor Wimpey and three former members of Barratts’ land team; senior strategic land manager Marianne Horton, senior technical manager Richard Knight and strategic planning specialist Richard Pitt.
The emphasis on ex-housebuilders is deliberate, as IM Land looks to set itself apart from rivals. Its focus is on delivery and maximising assets and the team is renowned for their ability to unlock technically challenging sites, some of which would be deemed too complex by other housebuilders or promoters.
IMP, which has traded successfully across the industrial, office, residential and retail sectors for almost 30 years, itself has an asset portfolio of nearly £1 billion (not including IM Land) and for the first time in 2015, recorded profits exceeding £100 million (£103.1m).
Tim Wooldridge, IMP’s managing director said: “The housing market isn’t delivering as efficiently as it should, for several reasons; first-time buyers face challenges accessing finance, many land-owners dont see the certainty they require to enter the sector, and house-builders lack the confidence to deliver major schemes.
“We see an opportunity to offer a new approach, so we have been quietly building a portfolio of development sites across the Midlands. As of the end of July, we have invested enough to secure sufficient land to deliver roughly 6,000 homes.
“Being privately owned we don’t have pressures from external-investors or shareholders and we can react to the market. We pride ourselves on being flexible and agile as an organisation and always able to think for the long term.
“We’re also cash-rich. In April we sold a £200m industrial portfolio to provide extra financial firepower if major strategic opportunities presented themselves, as we are confident they will. IM Land will focus on residential projects, and compliment IM Properties existing development teams strategic commercial ventures.”
Jonathan Dyke believes land-owners and potential joint venture partners looking to realise value from their assets will all find the IM Land model appealing.
“The housing market has thrived in recent years but there’s still too much risk and too little certainty in the planning system. We’ve assembled a very strong team from the housebuilding industry, which understands every stage of the residential planning and delivery system, so we can help our partners through what can be a daunting process,” he says.
“I believe what sets IM Land apart is that we combine the financial resources of an institution, with the creativity and specific skill-set of a property business, and when you ally that combination to a 30-year track record of successful development, it’s a powerful offer.
“We never wish to be prescriptive about the way we operate. We spent months testing our model in the market before today’s launch, and it became clear that it worked in three different ways”.
“Some people wished to dispose of assets on a freehold basis, others needed financial backing for a joint venture, some wanted to be guided through the planning system – and all those work for us. We are very happy to be a purchaser, a partner or a promoter.
“Above all, whilst we always think of the long-term, and believe only sustainable models can work in the housing market, we recognise that our partners need to make a return on their investments, just as we do, so we’re always looking for innovative ways to deliver maximum value for them too.
IM Land’s current sites are at Bath, Solihull, Bromsgrove, Lichfield, Warwick and Stratford-Upon-Avon.
One of the UK’s largest privately-owned property companies, in the past five years IMP has almost doubled its asset portfolio to nearly £1 billion