Resort Brokers was founded Ian Crooks, in 1985, drawing on expertise he had gained both as a successful accommodation owner-operator, and as a commercial property agent active in the tourism sector. It was the first agency to focus exclusively on selling accommodation and tourism-related businesses and property. More than 32 years on, it is Australia’s longest established and most experienced accommodation sector specialist.
While remaining proudly a family business, Resort Brokers has grown significantly. Now the second generation is making its mark, driving expansion. Trudy Crooks is National Sales Manager and sister Carla Cook is marketing manager. Tim Crooks heads up the agency’s highly successful off-the-plan management rights division and, together with Carla’s husband and senior broker, Alex Cook, works very closely with developers of residential and mixed-use apartment projects.
Resort Brokers Australia now has close to 40 brokers covering every state and territory, so is a truly a national operation. The agency fosters a collaborative culture between all brokers and focuses strongly on having local experts on the ground in all areas.
Initially, it was mostly motels along with some caravan parks, pubs and backpackers. In fact, we pioneered the concept of motel leasing in Australia. As a result, more than 70 per cent of Australia’s motels are now split into active leasehold and passive freehold investment components. Motel sales are still a vital part of the business.
But, as the management rights model grew, it was a natural progression for Resort Brokers to move strongly into that sector. Now we are the market leader. In fact, we’ve set all the benchmarks. Resort Brokers Australia sold the rights to Soul Surfers Paradise to Mantra in 2015, setting a new record brokered price for management rights in Australia. and The Beach Apartments, Broadbeach management rights to Minor Hotel Group for a record per-key price off-the-plan. Most recently, Resort Brokers sold FV by Gurner, the largest management rights ever sold off-the-plan, again to Mantra.
The agency works very closely with these and other major hotel operators. For example, Resort Brokers has long enjoyed a ‘preferred broker’ relationship with Quest Apartment Hotels, because we understand the full spectrum of ownership and management models.
In an evolving property market, and with the changing landscape of the accommodation industry, our expertise is highly relevant to emerging markets including retirement accommodation and aged care, student accommodation, and lifestyle communities.
Massive advantages. First, here’s how industry expert lawyer, Col Myers, puts it: “A developer may as well stand in front of me and rip up hundreds of thousands of dollars in notes if they don’t incorporate management rights in their large complexes.” He’s right. Management rights are incredibly valuable, so they add significantly to the developer’s profitability. But there is much more to it than that.
Management rights are a ‘win win’ for all stakeholders. Investor lot owners gain a hands-on manager with a vested interest, who looks after their property and maximises rental returns. If you want happy investors and to build investor loyalty, you need to go down the management rights path. On top of that, management rights protect and enhance a developer’s brand and reputation by ensuring the building is looked after.
Structured successfully – with Resort Brokers’ help, of course – there are huge gains for a relatively tiny outlay. Recently, we’ve seen massive growth in MLRs, more than ever before, because leading developers increasingly understand what a brilliant model it is.
Absolutely, and that’s because there has been a big shift by many major hotel groups towards a preference for management rights. The model works extremely well for short-term accommodation, not just permanent residential developments.
As noted earlier, hotel operators like Mantra and Thailand-based Minor Hotel Group (150+ properties across 22 countries) see it as a cost effective way to acquire and control greater room inventory without the high cost of freehold investment.
While there is speculation about the supply cycle in the residential apartment market, Australia’s visitor economy is surging forward, with a consequent demand for hotels. So developers should definitely be talking to Resort Brokers about hotel development as an alternative model to make projects in prime city and holiday destinations stack up.
Without a doubt, it is the growth of MHEs – manufactured housing estates. This is unquestionably the biggest growth market of the next period. This new model is seeing large parcels of land on the outskirts of towns and cities, greenfield sites and existing caravan parks, being converted into this highly profitable new model.
Major companies and investment funds are heading in this direction. Resort Brokers is constantly contacted by operators and investors looking for suitable sites. It’s all part of the changing landscape of Australia’s property and accommodation market, and the demand for affordable retirement and lifestyle options. MHEs offer terrific margins and they are ongoing cash flow businesses.
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