An old adage on how to make a small fortune? – start with a large one and become a real estate developer. Obviously, this statement is intended to be tongue-in-cheek, as some developers are extraordinarily successful; the point is that real estate development is one of the riskiest professional endeavors that can be undertaken, save for the work of active military personnel and law enforcement officials. Having made a three decades-long career of finding deals for developers and representing property owners selling to developers, I’ve learned certain ironclad truths about real estate development. The hazards are often unnoticed and can be devastating. One critical mistake early in the process and a project will suffer through completion and beyond. Unanticipated delays can wreak havoc with economic projections and the same strong ego that makes a developer successful will blind him to errors or miscalculations. Successful developers do all the research, seek expert counsel and still may need a bit of luck in avoiding unexpected market turns or governmental regulations. So, while development can be financially rewarding if one’s timing and location are precise, it can also be a recipe for economic disaster and is certainly not for the weak at heart.