The decision by Elders to sell its rural division – which includes its real estate business – has sparked interest from a number of major real estate groups looking to grow their presence in the Australian market.
While the structure of the deal could take months to finalise as potential buyers come forward, a number of major real estate groups said the deal could provide opportunities for them.
Darren Cole, CEO at Landmark Harcourts, said his company had always welcomed a strong Elders, as this helped ensure his organisation performed at its best.
“In the past, Elders has been an iconic Australian business,” he told Real Estate Business.
While he was disappointed to hear that Elders was in the position that it may need to offload its rural operations, Mr Cole said it did create opportunities for his business.
This could include existing offices or key salespeople making the switch to his network.
“We have a 200-strong franchisor staff servicing 800-900 offices worldwide. That’s a major investment in our head office, which in turn services our network creating market leading services for our agents, property managers and in turn, customers.”
In the past few weeks, Mr Cole said Landmark Harcourts has added three new franchises and seven co-agencies to its network. He added that the network was performing strongly in the eastern states and South Australia, and had most room to grow in Western Australia and Queensland.
“We’ve recorded month-on-month growth since the joint venture [with Harcourts in May last year],” he added.
Tony Brasier, chairman and managing director at PRDnationwide – which is owned by Colliers – said his company would also be interested in Elders’ real estate assets, should they become available.
This was by no means certain, a point Elders made clear in a statement to Real Estate Business.
“It is too early to speculate on what form the sale will take and whether or not any parts of the business will be sold off separately,” an Elders spokesperson said. “For all our products and staff it is business as usual – the sale process does not fundamentally change what we need to focus on.”
While Elders’ real estate business may not end up being sold separately, Mr Brasier said his organisation would consider its options if this changed.
“Yes, we are potentially interested in acquiring or partnering any residential franchise business, including Elders,” he told Real Estate Business.
“Any acquisition would be subject to sensible pricing, a complementary culture as well as ensuring there is no major ‘locational’ conflict with existing PRDnationwide offices.”