Commercial giant reveals big residential plans

Global property group Savills has acquired a prominent Sydney agency as it prepares to significantly expand its Australian residential footprint.

The multinational, which is best known in Australia for its commercial and luxury business, has finalised a deal to buy residential specialist Century 21 Cordeau Marshall.

The deal includes Cordeau Marshall’s six offices and its rent roll of more than 700 properties.

Savills’ head of residential projects, Ged Rockliff, told REB that the acquisition reflects a strategy of being able to offer an end-to-end service.

“If you think that we're a project marketing business and half the apartments you sell are to investors, then it makes good business sense to maintain the income from those managements,” he said.

“We've already got that global platform, but it gives us a much better platform locally to engage with downsizers, empty-nesters who are looking to buy an apartment and investors looking to buy another investment.”

Mr Rockliff said that Savills planned to put this end-to-end strategy to immediate effect, with more than 1,000 off-the-plan apartment sales in the pipeline.

Savills has recently opened two offices – a residential office in Sydney in February and a project marketing office in Melbourne last year.

Mr Rockliff said the Cordeau Marshall acquisition is just the start of the group’s residential expansion plans, which could involve both acquisitions and organic growth.

“We've made the decision in the last year or two to get serious about the residential footprint in Australia because we've got such a good platform internationally particularly, throughout Asia,” he said.

“We'll be looking to roll out potentially all around Australia, and potentially New Zealand, because our colleagues around Asia really provide a good conduit for sales coming in.”

Mr Rockliff said that main street agencies shouldn’t regard Savills as a threat given that the real estate pie would presumably increase in line with property growth.

“We won’t be looking to establish 40 or 50 offices throughout Sydney. We'd probably realistically say if we had 12 offices that would probably do us,” he said.

Meanwhile, Cordeau Marshall founder Craig Marshall welcomed the acquisition as a way for the agency to combine its local expertise with Savills’ international network and brand.

[Related: Cordeau Marshall agent named among world’s best]

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