This article was originally published by The Urban Developer on 20 January 2022. It is reproduced here in full without amendment.
With a strong shift from capital cities to regional areas following from the pandemic, Omira Property Group’s residential development success stems from Alisdair Baker’s passion for property and understanding the key drivers for property and investment solutions.
Australians’ migration to regional areas has come as no surprise to Alasdair Baker, who always knew there was more to life than a humdrum 9-to-5 existence in a big city.
Growing up in a farmhouse in the pine-forested mountains of northern Portugal, he learned the art of property development from his father, who would buy old ruins and turn them into holiday rentals surrounded by beautiful nature.
“I just knew when I landed in Australia that I had a passion for property and I wanted to make a go of it,’’ says Alasdair. “I remember criss-crossing the country looking for a suitable site and eventually I settled on Gladstone – not the most exotic place, but it was the height of the resources boom, there was a lot of infrastructure spend going on there and the market was rising.’’
Sixteen years on from founding the Omira Property Group, Alasdair has returned to his roots, and today he specialises in creating lifestyle homes in stunning locations.
“In property development, it’s essential to really know your market and understand your point of difference,’’ he says. “For me today, it’s about building homes that inspire, that allow people to live authentically. Our clients are not just investing in four walls and a roof, but a lifestyle.’’
In 2020, there was a net 43,000 people exiting capital cities in favour of the regions. Compared to capital cities, regional areas offer greater affordability, more space, a quieter and healthier way of life. And this trend isn’t slowing, increasing 11% year-on-year in the June 2021 quarter.
“The pandemic has meant we’re looking for bigger, more flexible homes that can adapt to being work environments, yet at the same time, people want to feel part of a local community, with easy access to amenities like shopping and medical services.
“Places that can tick all these boxes are in very high demand today.’’
Omira’s most recent projects at Kingscliff, Currumbin and Byron have all been designed to meet these aspirations, offering premium lifestyles in great locations close to well-serviced regional hubs.
“It’s the style of property development my father taught me, creating thoughtfully designed homes in special places,’’ says Alasdair. “But now people can afford to actually live and work in these locations, where before they could only hope to holiday.’’
In a rapidly changing property market, it’s essential to be nimble and stay well-informed, says Alasdair. Fail to spot and adapt to the latest trends, and you risk being caught by surprise. For example, the recent sudden rise in materials prices combined with a shortage of skilled tradespeople is pushing many developments and builders to the edge.
“We’re in a building boom at the moment thanks to all the cash that has been injected into the economy, but it’s been a profitless boom for many in the industry,’’ he says.
“Builders can’t keep up with demand, but at the same time they can’t keep up with construction costs because all their supply chains have been hit, and some are going under now because they can't fulfil contracts they signed six months ago.’’
Another huge challenge for developers at the moment is getting approvals through councils.
“This is an uncontrollable part of the process once you've submitted your application. Some councils have statutory timeframes they have to adhere to, but with others, you literally have no idea when your project’s going to be assessed. That level of uncertainty is a massive problem when you’re planning a timeline for delivering a project.’’
But property development is all about being a good problem solver, says Alasdair.
“Problems are 100% guaranteed, so you've got to remain unemotional about them. Another important lesson I’ve learned is to make sure you build plenty of contingency into a project, maintain good relationships with your builders, and always choose the best professional consultants.’’
Alasdair said finance is such a key part of a development project, keeping momentum in a project and DFP deliver options, with a fast turnaround.
“The speed to access different finance options, allows me to make a decision quickly, and from a developers perspective, this maximises returns and minimises risk,” he said.
Development Finance Partners is proud to work with Alasdair and the Omira Property Group. We specialise in property finance, providing complete end-to-end tailored solutions.
To find out more about our finance solutions for your next project, book a request a call back.