PERSPECTIVES FROM 40 YEARS IN PROPERTY DEVELOPMENT
When you’ve been in the development game as long as I have, you see a lot of change. Cities expand. Governments come and go. Markets cycle through peaks and troughs.
Watching this latest cycle play out, I’m experiencing quite a bit of déjà vu.
We’ve seen these ‘sky-is-falling’ headlines from the media before, as well as assurances that we’re all going to lose our shirts in “the big collapse”. But the reality is that no one has ever been able to predict when the property market will rise and fall. If we did, none of us would need to work for a living.
As Anthony Boyd points out in his introduction to this Winter/Spring edition of the Live proud magazine, this thing we call the property market isn’t actually one thing at all. It’s a whole myriad of markets, each performing according to their own unique set of conditions.
The reality is that all that noise out there is very rarely helpful. Doing your homework and knowing what it is you want and where you want to live is really the most important thing. It might be an extra bedroom, a shorter commute, a place to finally call your own, or a forever home. But your needs in the present and foreseeable future should be the key consideration in any property purchase. In my experience, every person’s story is unique and there is no one-size-fits-all argument for or against what property is best and when the best time is to buy it. Only you will ever truly know that. Backing your own instincts is crucial.
With all that said, here’s one thing I’ve learned from four decades in the development industry that has never not been true: places with a strong sense of identity and community will always be desirable to live in.
A focus on connectedness and wellbeing
So, what does a sense of identity and community mean in practice? Well, here at Frasers Property it means placemaking principles centered on people’s health and wellbeing as well as a strong sense of connectedness with those around them.
Health and wellbeing may seem obvious, but from where I sit it goes deeper than getting people outside and active (although this is undoubtedly important). Health and wellbeing also stands for initiatives that build resilience and long-term sustainability into a community. Waste reduction, energy generation (such as we do in projects like Burwood Brickworks in VIC, and Fairwater and Central Park in NSW), water reuse, and sensitively managing biodiversity are all part of the commitments Frasers Property makes to balance the needs of people and the planet.
Also critical to successfully functioning communities is connectedness. We now know from decades of research in urban design that the more interactions that exist between people, the greater the beneficial impact on their wellbeing. It’s why we put a lot of work into our passive and active open spaces, bring in education, childcare, retail and other amenities like recreation centres wherever we can, and encourage community development through events and community programs.
People ask me all the time what the secret is to property. My answer is always the same: creating places that people are proud to call home. And I know that we’ve been successful at that job when we see the way that life for our residents is enriched by all the important connections that they develop in their communities. Most especially, that sense of achievement that comes from knowing they’ve made a life to be proud of.
For me, no matter the noisy pontificating from the media, this is a pleasure and privilege that always cuts through.