Spotlight on Ian Edwards & Greg McAlpine, Joint Heads of Office Leasing, WA

Ian and Greg, Partners, Joint Heads of Office Leasing WA, are two of Knight Frank’s longest standing employees, with more than 50 years with the firm between them.

Together, they have led our Western Australia Office Leasing team through various stages of the property cycle and have been involved in some of the state’s biggest pre-commitment deals over the years. We sit down with them to discuss how they work together as a partnership and where they see the opportunities in the Perth office leasing market as it starts to turn a corner.

 

First of all, tell us a bit about how you came to be working in commercial property and how long you have been working together.

Ian: I had a friend working in property, so decided I would give it a go. I knocked on the door at Knight Frank and have been working in the office leasing team ever since. That was over 30 years ago now.

Greg: I originally started working in the residential space but was looking for an opportunity to broaden my capabilities in the property industry. When it came to choosing between leasing and sales, leasing appealed to me because of the longevity of the appointments and the relationships you can build with your clients. I’ve been working at Knight Frank for 20 years now, and for the entire time I have been the appointed agent on Garden Office Park with the same client.

How do you work together as a team?

Ian: In the 20 years we have been working together we haven’t had an argument once and I think this comes down to acknowledging that we each have our own strengths and weaknesses and that we both bring something different to the table that can benefit our clients.

Greg: We’re yin and yang, that’s why we work so well together as a partnership. We both have the ability to write transactions and do deals individually, but together we cover both ends of the spectrum. Ian is much more academic and loves presenting in front of clients, while I’m a bit more social and will jump at the opportunity to get on the phone for a chat.

Ian: Although we are very different in our personalities, we are joined together by our work ethic and our passion. Our passion for property is our glue.

What are some of your notable recent transactions?

Ian: We have recently finalised an extension of renewal at 256 St Georges Terrace. The deal was for over 11,000 square metres for Chevron.

Greg: We’ve also completed a deal for the Ministry of Justice at 32 St Georges Terrace. They took 3,000 square metres on a 10-year lease.

What’s happening in the Perth office leasing market?

Ian: We have definitely turned a corner from the bottom of the market, and we are starting to see leasing conditions improve. This has led to a lack of large contiguous space available, with no space over 10,000 square metres left in the market right now.

Greg: Given Perth is a resource market, conditions are largely driven by the global economy and how that affects commodity prices. The rise of iron ore prices has been having a direct impact on the state government finances and has been contributing to the growth we are starting to see.

Where do you see the market heading in the next 12-18 months?

Ian: Commitment to further major resource sector projects will contribute to office demand, which we expect will drive rental growth. Based on historical rental growth that has occurred with changes to vacancy rates, we anticipate effective rents will increase 10% over the next 18 months. However, it is expected face rents will remain reasonably static throughout this period, unless we start to see office demand grow at a significantly faster pace.

Greg: There is no confirmed new supply to come to the market until the Chevron building at Elizabeth Quay completes in 2023. This coupled with a rise in demand and a lack of large-scale space is presenting an opportunity for developers to capitalise on pre-commitment demand to get buildings out of the ground.

From your 20 years working together, what are the three key ingredients for working as a team?

Ian: Fun. Trust. Reward.

Greg: Hard work and fun. You’ve got to enjoy it.

If you could give career advice to your younger self what would it be?

Ian: You have to be passionate about what you’re doing and demonstrate this passion through your work. Wear your heart on your sleeve and enjoy yourself.

Greg: Owners want to do business with agents they know and trust, and you can’t build this relationship without meeting your clients in person. This has never been more true than now when people are so quick to send an email as opposed to picking up the phone.

On a more personal note…

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

Ian: Making fine furniture, I absolutely love it.

Greg: Playing the tennis seniors circuit in Europe on the clay courts.

What’s your ideal holiday?

Ian: Pottering through Italy and the south of France over a three-month period.

Greg: I love the smaller cities in Europe, travelling by car and being able to pull up on the side of the road to enjoy some cheese and wine.