Avi Khan didn’t set out to start a commercial real estate business – but his landlords said otherwise.
Coming from a residential sales background, Mr Khan acknowledges that before kicking off Ray White AKG Commercial, it was a sector he didn’t know much about.
Speaking on a recent episode of REB’s Secrets of the Top 100 Agents, the Brisbane-based principal of Ray White Marsden, Ray White AKG, Ray White Daisy Hill, Ray White AKG Commercial, and partner of S&B Legal said that his foray into the space has been well worth it – revealing that the Queensland commercial market – and his own agency, had “absolutely taken off” over the past two years.
In actual fact, it wasn’t even a sector he had looked to enter when he first got his start as a business owner.
“We actually started it because our clients wanted it,” he prefaced.
“It’s driven by the demand that we had from our landlords, really, more than anything else.
“What we found is that our rent roll, our clients that we interact with, a lot of them are investors.
“More and more, they’re not invested in their property in terms of emotion.
“They just care about the raw numbers.”
According to the business owner, what he was finding was that many investors who had their properties managed by his business were starting to buy commercial properties “because the numbers actually made really good sense for them”.
He shared a number of reasons for this: the capital growth they could achieve, the returns on offer, and “even in terms of writing off their expenses that go along with owning commercial properties”.
What then transpired was that these investors were asking Mr Khan’s team to inspect their commercial ventures and manage their properties – which required him to respond with “sorry, we don’t do that”.
“All of a sudden, we came to the conclusion that we have to actually get into that space.
“And that’s when I started recruiting commercial agents and trying to get into that space in terms of managing properties and leasing it out for them as well,” he shared.
Having kicked off the operation just prior to COVID-19’s arrival on Australian shores, Mr Khan acknowledges that the team was initially very worried as to what would play out.
But as it stands, “it’s been a great journey for us in the last two years in the commercial space”.
Even so, there was some trial and error in the beginning. An early concentration on retail backfired when many shops were forced to close their doors during the first lockdown.
“We found that our concentration on retail was so wrong that we were going to screw up the whole business because, obviously, no one wanted to lease retail space,” he divulged.
After sitting down with the commercial team, Mr Khan shared that they shifted their sights to industrial spaces.
“We found that where we’re located in Brisbane, it’s the gateway to all the motorways – Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Ipswich, Logan. We’re smack bang in the middle. It’s become a real hub for transport and for storage facilities,” he said.
That’s now where Ray White AKG focuses a lot of its energy, with Mr Khan expressing that the market has “taken off”.
Iterating that now “everyone’s out there looking for commercial properties”, Mr Khan said the time spent on the commercial side of real estate has led to him figuring out “that it’s actually very similar to residential real estate”.
Not only does he see similarities between the marketing of both asset types, he believes the clients “pretty much need the same attention”.
That’s one of the reasons Mr Khan considers himself as “an ecosystem principal”.
He’s building up a system of referrals branching across commercial and residential and into his own legal firm and finance offerings.
“I think it’s real gold in keeping your clients in one space and happy and giving them the service across the board, rather than them going out and searching for a solicitor, or a broker, or a commercial agent,” he opined.
But it’s not the only benefit – it’s also created mass collaboration across the different channels in Mr Khan’s business.
“Everyone gets along. We don’t have a deep, dark, dingy corner where we put our property managers or our commercial agents. Everyone’s sitting in the same space and they’re working as a team more than anything else,” he concluded.
Learn more about how Avi Khan operates as an “ecosystem principal” here.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Grace is a journalist across Momentum property and investment brands. Grace joined Momentum Media in 2018, bringing with her a Bachelor of Laws and a Bachelor of Communication (Journalism) from the University of Newcastle. She’s passionate about delivering easy to digest information and content relevant to her key audiences and stakeholders.
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