Tori Oglesby – From tenant advisor to agency: what can we learn?

In a global real estate career spanning over 12 years, Tori Oglesby has worked in commercial property as a tenant advisor and in corporate real estate across both the Australian and EMEA markets, developing highly specialised negotiation and transaction management skills while working with clients such as Google, Accenture, DXC Technology, Visa and Bauer Media.

Now working on the other side of the fence as an office leasing agent, Tori recently joined the Melbourne CBD Office Leasing team as an Associate Director.

She brings with her a wealth of experience in the property industry, along with some valuable insights about the type of space tenants seek and what they are looking for from an agent throughout the leasing process.

Tori has worked in leading office markets around the world, from Copenhagen and Stockholm to London and Berlin where office space provides tenants with cutting-edge design, flexibility and world-class amenities.

This trend is making its way to the Australian markets, according to Tori, with financials increasingly just one aspect a tenant takes into consideration when looking for space.

“There is a significant amount of research tenants are accessing on how the design of an office can impact the attraction, retention, wellbeing and productivity of employees, and more and more this is becoming a key driver for tenants when they rent office space. They are seeking space that incorporates flexibility beyond activity-based working (ABW).

“Interestingly, office footprints are on the increase again. Many tenants found they quickly ran out of room in their adoption of ABW due to a lack of understanding that it was a space rationalisation concept originally devised for a sales-based workforce, where employees are typically out of the office for significant periods of the day.”

Fit-out design is incorporating natural materials to promote employee wellbeing, and tenants are placing high-value on buildings that utilise these materials throughout common areas including the foyer, atrium and lift lobby.

Building amenities such as end-of-trip facilities and third spaces have become market standard in Melbourne, and CBD tenants are now chasing a softening of the urban edge through access to parks, light filled atriums, terraces and rooftops.

“Take a look at 161 Collins Street,” says Tori, “Pembroke has delivered a refurbishment that incorporates a beautifully understated design sympathetic to the heritage nature of the building. The atrium is the centrepiece, with an abundance of light and plants promoting a feeling of being in nature in the middle of the CBD.

“This has seen tenants such as Google, Accenture, Nike and Treasury Wines all take space in the building.”

There is over 400,000 sqm of stock due to come online in Melbourne by the end of 2020, and Tori believes that with major relocations to new builds due, now is the time for landlords to consider repositioning their existing buildings to deliver the exceptional facilities and design demanded by tomorrow’s tenants.

“We are currently experiencing historically low vacancy rates in Melbourne, with the CBD sitting at 3.6% as at July 2018, allowing landlords to push rents. As new space hits the market, those with a beautifully redesigned product and the finished marketing to match will entice the best tenants.”

The opportunity to consult landlords and developers from conception to delivery on the repositioning of their buildings was part of Tori’s decision to transition from tenant advisor to agent.

“Working on the agency side allows me to work in partnership with landlords throughout the process to deliver stock tenants want, while also making sure the right message gets across. It can be easy, as a property professional, to forget that not everyone can visualise a built concept, and as a tenant advisor I would continually see marketing materials and messaging missing the mark, meaning tenants weren’t able to see the opportunity being presented to them.

“Making the transition to agency has seen my role become a lot more interactive and action-oriented. I no longer receive the information from the market, I deliver it. I am introducing tenants to new spaces, new listings and off-market options while using my ‘tenant advisor hat’ to make the negotiation process as smooth as possible for both parties.”

Tori explains that from her experience as a tenant advisor she has learnt it is imperative for an agent to take into consideration the fact that a tenant will often have a corporate real estate strategy in place which has been devised at a regional or global level, and may seem inflexible to our market conditions and practices. The local employees tasked with delivering this strategy often find it a stressful situation and so the more help offered the better.

“Being able to understand the renting process from a tenant’s perspective is important for an agent because at the end of the day both the landlord and the tenant do not want the process overcomplicated for the sake of it.

“First and foremost the tenant needs to secure their preferred property ahead of the competition, and it’s the little things such as attention to detail and solid responsive communication that a tenant remembers because they’re what makes a good agent stand out.”

Tori came into her role with a strong understanding of the Knight Frank client base having dealt with her new team in Melbourne several times while on the other end of a transaction.

“I had the highest regard for the team before I even started at Knight Frank, having experienced their level of professionalism and genuine integrity while dealing with them as a tenant advisor. It was a very conscious decision to join this team. Our values were in sync.

“Being privately owned with such experienced senior management allows us great flexibility as a company to respond and adapt to market trends and client needs, whilst the recent introduction of the partnership program cements an ideal of career longevity at Knight Frank.”