EASTERN HOUSING PUNT PAYS OFF
ENTERING the east coast market is a gamble for anyone in housing, but Dale Alcock has got the ultimate property hedge.
Mr Alcock’s ABN Group is among a handful of WA-based property developers doing well in the current climate, because of a decision to expand the business into the east coast market.
Cedar Woods and Peet Limited also broadened their horizons by building residential housing businesses in Victoria.
ABN Group acquired Victoria’s Boutique Homes in 2009, after gaining a majority stake in the company in 2008.
Mr Alcock said his company brought a point of difference to the Melbourne residential property market with Boutique Homes.
ABN Group also took its Homebuyers Centre business and financial planning arm Resolve Finance to Victoria.
“We have taken what we believe to be a fresh approach to the Melbourne market, particularly with our homebuyer centre business, which is focused on the first-homebuyer market — a part of the Melbourne market that was under-serviced,” he said.
“What we bring to that is the other pillar of our group, the finance brokerage. We’ve been able to provide a unique offering to first-homeowners in Melbourne that wasn’t available before.”
Mr Alcock said his east coast business made up about 40 per cent of the group’s total income.
Last financial year, ABN Victoria completed 1700 homes in Melbourne and is selling 170 homes a month.
Mr Alcock said operating in the Victorian market helped offset the impact of a slow WA economy.
“We believe we’ve been able to achieve a diversification of of location, which has insulated us,” he said.
He expected the Victorian housing market to slow from its record highs, but he would still continue to keep the business at 30 to 40 per cent of ABN Group’s income.
“Ideally, if we had a wish, it would be for WA and Victoria to be up at the same time,” he said. “But it’s really nice to get that underpinning of financial security in the group when you’ve (got) these two economies and housing markets playing a strong role in providing a level of support.”
Aidan Hooper stepped into the role of ABN Group’s Victoria managing director from starting as a salesman in the company’s Perth Homebuyers Centre more than 20 years ago.
Mr Alcock said this appointment worked well for the company by providing someone with “skin in the game” at the Melbourne business.
He said the decision to expand into Melbourne was a learning experience not without its risks.
“It all hasn’t worked out perfectly, there have been challenges — others have tried and failed,” he said.
“It has very much been a learning experience. By having a go at establishing something in a different location, we’re now in the position where we are sharing learnings from one State to another.”
Branching out: ABN Group director Dale Alcock with new Victoria managing director Aidan Hooper.