The media is currently full of real estate ‘doom and gloom’ – real estate repossessions and arrears are up and real estate prices are down … its almost as if the ‘sky is about to fall’! This situation has seen many real estate developers, and property investors generally, leave the market – and for those thinking of starting out in real estate development, these are scary times indeed.What seems like the worst time to get into real estate development can, in reality, be the best time. Successful real estate developers today realize that they can use time to their advantage – their real estate development projects will typically not be ready for sale or rent for 2 to 4 years from inception. So if they have bought well, they are less likely to be affected by the economic situation at the time of purchasing their real estate development site.In fact, a weak market is a real estate developer’s paradise, because a weak market is a buyer’s market, and one of the first steps to any real estate development project is securing a viable real estate development site on the best possible terms.Although we know that the real estate development business is cyclical, and many parts of the world are in a property downturn, we also know from history that knowledgeable real estate developers are successful in any market – falling, flat or rising.We’re working towards what we believe the economic conditions will be in 12 to 36 months time. Indeed we ourselves are still active in the market – seeking Council permission for a number of real estate development projects. This gives us the opportunity to act quickly and build our approved real estate development projects when the market does become buoyant.It is our opinion that the following market signals are some of the key factors that will lead to increased future opportunities, especially for real estate developers:· The pent up demand for housing. In March 2008 leading Australian economics forecaster, BIS Shrapnel chief economist Dr Frank Gelber argued that housing prices across Australia will rise by 30% to 40% over the next five years because of the built-up shortages of housing.· The current Federal Government has stated that they will work towards increasing Housing Affordability and have begun to announce incentives including Tax Credits of $6000 per year if the housing is rented at 20% below market rent.· We believe that an increasing number of people, in the short to medium term, are likely to require the rental accommodation that we intend to build. This is due to either their financial stress (can’t afford to purchase a home) and/or demographic trends (including Gen-Ys who are less likely to buy Real Estate).Even if our ‘crystal ball’ is incorrect, we know we have the resources to hold real estate development sites during possible further market fluctuations to come, and increasing rents are certainly helping with that!Our belief is that this is a golden time to act – perhaps a once in a generation opportunity. Maybe it is not the time to sell completed real estate development projects at the moment, but it is certainly a great opportunity to secure the development site and obtain development planning approval. Now this strategy is not for everyone – you must have the necessary resources to hold the development site and especially the knowledge of real estate development to take advantage of these opportunities.The best approach for anyone contemplating real estate development will depend on his or her own personal and financial circumstances, but the key message here is that you must do something!There are many strategies that small real estate developers are currently using, if they don’t have the resources to complete a real estate development project right now, including to turn their real estate knowledge into cash by locating ideal property development sites, perhaps taking out an option on the site, and on-selling the ‘Development Permit Approval’ to someone who does have the resources.Successful real estate developers know that times of opportunity like this only come along once in a while, and they’re taking action so they don’t miss the boat.Regardless of your immediate financial situation, this is the perfect time to leverage your real estate development knowledge into current or future income. If you have any doubts about your ability to do this, or you would like an experienced real estate development mentor to guide you, act now to get the knowledge and mentoring that you need. There is no time to waste!