You have kicked off 2017 with a bang with your new business; tell us a little about it?
Yes, we have indeed. Late last year we started Your Commercial Property Specialist, providing a one-stop, peace of mind shop for all your commercial real estate needs.
We operate exclusively in commercial real estate: commercial office, retail and industrial property … sales, leasing, consultancy and property management.
We’re looking forward to working with commercial clients to help them achieve their goals with commercial property.
You have worked in commercial property for many years, but people might not know that you have a corporate real estate background. Tell us a little about that.
I love, love, love what I do, and I am grateful for my corporate real estate background.
I went to uni in Brisbane to complete my property economics degree, with the idea I would return home as a rural valuer, but then I discovered the wonderful world of corporate real estate and was taken under the wings of some amazing mentors.
For nearly a decade, I was fortunate to work with owner fund managers – this instilled in me a high level of accountability and responsibility for managing property assets. Straight out of uni, I was moulded to understand the importance of managing property as though it were my own. Forming good tenant relationships, knowing what to look for on property inspections and smart budget management!
And boy, did I get to manage some awesome properties – mostly large CBD office high-rise complexes, industrial warehouse distribution centres and regional shopping centres. This often involved a lot of travel around the country working with a large pool of property lawyers, accountants, facility managers, sales and leasing agents. I Iearned a great deal about commercial property during that time and gained invaluable experience that I’m now really enjoying applying to the local Coffs commercial property market.
In making the move to set up your own business, what have you found to be the most challenging?
I think too many small businesses fail because they open their business on a romantic idea of what owning your own business is all about … and this too often “rose-coloured glasses” the nitty grittiness of owning a business.
My husband and I had already gone through the process of setting up our construction and carpentry business a few years ago – so I was able to apply a lot of those learnings to setting up the commercial real estate agency.
For me, it’s about sticking to your plan … Things don’t always turn out the way you think they will, and it’s easy to go into reaction mode. But, by having a good plan in place and sticking to it, you can manage (or avoid) the spot fires! Life is going to happen, so enjoy the journey. The best tip I can give would be to learn from the lesson put in front of you, keep a cool head and always, always refer back to the plan.
What excites you about owning your own business?
It’s a long list, but here are a few:
#1 is definitely helping our clients … Improving our clients’ lives through the simple act of providing good customer service.
#2 Being the expert our clients deserve …They’ve entrusted us to manage, sell or lease their property – treating our clients with the respect and delivering the results they deserve.
#3 Relationships … Strong, solid, respectful, mutually beneficial relationships.
The local property market has experienced great growth over the past few years. What do you forecast for 2017 and beyond for the commercial property market?
In terms of industrial sales, moderate growth is expected, as people realise we’re running out of industrial zoned land.
A tightening of yields and increase in price for industrial stock as supply is absorbed can be expected. Now may be a good time to get in and buy what stock is available, before interest rates rise …
With new industrial lease stock coming on the market over the next 6 – 12 months, we’ll see a bit of supply and demand impact on rents, but this should level out and progressively improve into 2018 and beyond.
Owner occupiers remain active in securing available commercial stock. We saw a large volume of properties purchased in Self Managed Super Funds last year, with no sign of this easing in 2017. As available stock is absorbed, prospective owner-occupiers will need to remain on as tenants.
We are also seeing confidence return to the market, with tenants prepared to sign longer term leases. Longer term leases provide more room to negotiate favourable lease terms for both landlords and tenants alike.
The investment made by Gowings (Coffs Central) and other major building refurbishments in the CBD such as “The Vault” has seen the image of the CBD improve – this is encouraging other owners to improve the façade and fitout of their buildings, which will in turn attract better quality tenants and improve rental returns long term (be mindful not to overcapitalise).
Whilst we will need to see more realistic asking rents to fill retail vacancies – particularly in the CBD … with no sign of Gowings giving up on their vision for the CBD, Vacinity Centre’s commitment to Toormina and Bachrach Naumburger’s growth plans for the Plaza and Homebase, new opportunities opened up in the old Masters site and Government infrastructure spending in the pipeline for the Jetty precinct – we’re excited to see continued improvement of the Coffs retail market in to 2017 – 2018.
How important is business development and relationship marketing to your business?
Important! I can’t stress enough just how important it is … for any business.
While I have a great deal of experience in commercial real estate, I will never claim to know everything – I am oddly addicted to continuous learning. I’m always sending myself off to seminars and doing courses, to broaden my knowledge and stay up to date with current legislative requirements.
Relationships are the backbone of any business. It’s about sharing knowledge amongst your business affiliates for the benefit of your mutual clients … Working together for the betterment of our local economy.
What tips have you got for us budding property investors?
Get the right team of experts around you from the start … a good solicitor, accountant and property agent.
If you haven’t already appointed them, interview them before you do, and in person preferably. Tip – ask the professional service provider if they have invested in property themselves or how many property investor clients they have. Don’t recreate the wheel – work with professionals who are already in the game, and this will save you time and money down the track.
It might seem cheaper doing a lot of the work yourself – but the money it could cost you by getting the purchase wrong will far outweigh the investment spent on appointing a good team of trusted professionals in the first place.
Finally, make sure your team of professionals believe in you and work hard for you … if not, find someone who will!
Do you a have a motto that you live by?
I love this quote: “A bird sitting in a tree is not afraid of the branch breaking – for her trust is not in the branch, but in her own ability to fly …”