Australia’s Leading Commercial Property Magazine EDITION 11
Q&A with Knight Frank’s Tim Holtsbaum

Tim has been with Knight Frank since 2015. Based in the Sydney office, Tim has 12 years of property experience – primarily in transactions and corporate advisory.

Tim commenced his property career as a consultant in Tenant Representation, before moving to London where he worked in Corporate Finance.

He took up the mantle at Knight Frank’s Sydney office as Director, Development Site Sales, New South Wales.

What is happening in the NSW residential site sales market?

It has been well documented that the greater Sydney region has enjoyed a significant boom in both the demand and eventual supply of residential housing. This was largely driven by a substantial housing undersupply in all forms of density post-GFC, and more recent significant government spending on key transport and infrastructure projects across Sydney.

As we near parody between demand and supply we are seeing those micro markets with high volumes of supply slow in both the rate of unit sales and capital growth – which has been well above 10% per annum for several years. However, markets within close proximity to transport hubs and the CBD continue to set new records as developers look to capitalise on the continuing demand; principally from owner occupiers. With the population growth forecast at 1.5% (or 60,000 to 80,000 people) year-on-year beyond 2030, the general expectation is for the market to continue growing as Sydney adapts to its new status as a global gateway city.

I expect offshore capital to continue to flow into Sydney as investors look to take advantage of our stable currency, geopolitical system and strong population growth forecast.

What are some of your current campaigns?

I currently have three very different on-market campaigns in Sydney. Firstly, the sale of an 11 hectare, oceanfront, master-planned development site in the eastern suburb of Little Bay; secondly, a development-approved, mixed-use residential and hotel development site in the Sydney CBD; and thirdly, a super-prime retail and serviced-apartment site on George Street in the Sydney CBD, opposite the QVB. All three are extremely unique and present exciting opportunities to unlock value in tightly-held markets.

A recent notable transaction was the sale of 811 Elizabeth Street, Green Square to Meriton in January 2017. The site has the potential to deliver up to 300 units and forms part of the new Green Square Boulevard in the Town Centre.

Which transactions have impacted the Sydney market most significantly over the past 12 months?

One of the most notable transactions in the market would include the sale of 71 Macquarie Street, Sydney which was a DA-approved, prime development site overlooking Circular Quay for $120 million or over $1,000,000 per unit. Another was The Edgecliff Centre in Edgecliff for nearly $140 million – a mixed-use retail and commercial property with future development potential, subject to rezoning.

Both of these transactions sit at opposite ends of the planning risk spectrum – however both were wellreceived in the market and set pricing records based on their core attributes, including the location and potential views of Sydney Harbour.

What do you think is next for your market?

I believe the general demand for residential dwellings will continue across Sydney Metropolitan area. No doubt we will see some peaks and troughs in the various housing micro markets, but the underlying theme is for continued growth in Sydney as we transition the economy from mining to serviced-based industries. I expect that both education and the lifestyle attributes of Australia will continue to be significant drawcards for our major cities.

What are the three things you love most about working in your industry?

The three things I love most would have to be real estate itself; the people; and the opportunity to do business all over the world. I have been told that I am slightly obsessed with property; especially residential. Having worked in Australia, Asia and Europe I can honestly say that the industry is the same world over. There are characters in any industry but property certainly has a great mix of weird and wonderful people. I have been fortunate enough to both travel and do transactions in some fascinating places such as Angola, Pakistan, Nigeria, Tunisia, France, UK, Italy, Germany, China and Singapore, to name a few. Not many other industries can provide an opportunity to experience so many different cultures, yet all speak the same language when it comes to property fundamentals.

What’s a typical day like for you?

My business is all about relationships with colleagues, clients and other service providers such as lawyers, town planners, architects and other professionals. During the day I am either servicing my existing clients or building new relationships for the future.

My former life in Corporate Advisory had me drafting countless strategic papers and reports but now I spend my days on the phone and in meetings connecting with people. The main aim as a services provider has always been to create or add value for my clients.

If you weren’t in property, what would you be doing?

If I wasn’t in property, I think I would be doing something entrepreneurial in business in Sydney or Los Angeles. My wife is from LA and I wouldn’t mind the idea of running a little business empire from Venice Beach, California. Or at least for six months of the year – summer in Sydney is tough to beat.

What has been a career highlight for you to date, or the most interesting project you have worked on?

I would have to say the appointment of Knight Frank to sell the White Bay Power Station on Sydney Harbour on behalf of Urban Growth NSW.

White Bay Power Station was Sydney’s last remaining coal-fired power station, and was decommissioned on Christmas Day in 1983. This building has become a Sydney icon and it was a pleasure to work on such a high-profile and important landmark.

Name three key ingredients for being successful in your job/ the property industry?

At the risk of sounding cliché I would have to say passion, persistence and vision. This is not rocket science and I am certain these three ingredients can be applied to any career whether it be as an academic or professional footballer.

Passion will help you find joy in your job every day, persistence will create your next opportunity to achieve success and vision will ensure your career progresses in the direction you want to take.

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