Who Are the Richest Property Developers Worldwide?

city skyline


Property development is a fine art. As a property developer or investor, you’ll know there are many factors to consider. From choosing your projects, to planning each stage of the development and sourcing appropriate development finance, each decision must be weighed carefully to ensure the best return on your investment.

Worldwide, there are a number of individuals who have risen to become icons in the property development industry. From investments in established prime locations to the ambitious development of entire cities, they represent the pinnacle of the industry. To inspire both experienced and novice developers, we’ve put a spotlight on some of these empires and the famous property developers behind them.

David and Simon Reuben

David and Simon Reuben

Photo Credit: The Sun

Mumbai-born and UK-based brothers David and Simon Reuben have a vast portfolio, including prime London properties like the Millbank Tower and the John Lewis Partnership Cooperation in Victoria.

Before forming their property development empire, David began by trading metals while Simon imported carpets. Now, the brothers’ combined net worth sits between $16-$18B.

Sam Zell

A man smiling

Photo Credit: The Real Deal

Zell began his journey into property development at an early age. While at university, he began renovating student apartments and marketing them to well-off students. By the time he graduated, Zell had successfully refurbished as many as 4,000 properties.

Today, Sam Zell has a net worth of $5.9B and chairs five public companies, including one of the USA’s largest residential REIT (real estate investment trust). Forbes calls him “the forefather of modern real estate investment trusts”.

Yang Huiyan

the forest city

The Forest City, Malaysia

After inheriting property from her late billionaire father, Yang Huiyan began her involvement with the internationally-renowned company Country Garden Holdings. One major project the company currently has in development is the groundbreaking Forest City in Malaysia. This urban development is situated near Singapore, and is made up of four man-made islands covering 30km2. As a mix of residential, leisure, commercial and industrial space, upon completion in 2035 the islands will have an estimated population of 700,000 residents.

Donald Bren

Photo Credit: Celebrity Net Worth

America’s richest real estate investor, Donald Bren’s empire includes 550 office buildings and 125 apartment complexes. He is the co-founder and owner of Irvine Co, which owns over 115 million square feet of real estate, mostly situated in South California.

Bren’s working life started by helping his real estate investor father, as a carpenter’s helper. He launched his first company in 1958, aided by a $10,000 bank loan. Bren is praised for the part he has played in the development of Orange County, USA. His many projects and properties include hotels, office buildings, shopping centres, apartment complexes and more.

Hugh Grosvenor

a man looking at the camera

Photo credit: The Times

Dubbed “the baby-faced billionaire”, Hugh Grosvenor became the seventh Duke of Westminster in 2016 upon the death of his father, Gerald Cavendish Grosvenor. Aged only 30, Grosvenor has already shown an aptitude for property development, with numerous prestigious holdings to manage and a net worth surpassing £10B.

Grosvenor controls the Grosvenor Group, based in London, a business holding 300 acres of real estate across the prime Belgravia and Mayfair neighbourhoods.

How to Find Success in Property Development

If reading about some of the richest property developers worldwide has inspired you to widen the scope of your property portfolio, here are some words of wisdom from our Managing Director, Tom Lee:

“Property developers and investors come from all walks of life and each brings new ideas, thinking outside the box on how they can adapt to what can be a busy sector. While some individuals can start off with deep pockets which will naturally give them a step up, this doesn’t always breed long term success. Working with property developers for many years, I have seen many adapt and follow their business strategy to grow single unit developments to large, mixed-use, tens of million multi-unit schemes. Ultimately, no dream is too big if you have the right attitude.”

Pure Structured Finance
Tom Lee
Managing Director

Tailor-Make Your Finance, and Your Future

If you are looking to expand your development portfolio, you will need a trusted partner to help source the right development finance, at a competitive rate. Call us today on 02080 579 178 to speak to one of our experts, or request a callback.

Article By Harry Hodell

September 10th, 2021

Harry is a Director of Pure Structured Finance. He has a specialist lending background on structured investment facilities across all asset classes in UK and Europe.

After several years working for specialist lenders and operating closely with clients to deliver complex borrowing structures, Harry has now turned his focus to provide his clients with bespoke debt, equity and mezzanine facilities through a large number of specialist lenders.

The vast majority of Harry’s clients are mid-market developers, investors and funds across UK and Europe with whom he has long-standing relationships.

Email: harry@purestructuredfinance.co.uk

Follow Harry on LinkedIn here.

See more articles by Harry