Brothers Frank and Joe Scarf run Arissa Property Group from their office in Potts Point, Sydney.
Arissa's focus is on medium-density residential development, between 20 to 50 dwellings, in the Sydney metro area.
Frank originally started as a real estate agent and project marketer helping to sell development sites. While Joe worked at a software company that specialised in financial feasibility.
One day the brothers decided to join forces and start a development company with their combined experience.
When they first started the company, most of their processes were manual and very labour intensive.
As an example, when they were looking for new sites to acquire, Frank would look at Google maps and follow the train lines out of the city.
He would then go into each local government website, try to find PDF zoning maps, and attempt to match the local government PDF file to what was currently there on Google.
“I was matching up triangles on a zoning map and guessing the shapes of streets – it took forever just to see if I was on the same block!” says Frank.
“We laugh about it now, but that is still common practice for many developers today around the country.”
Amalgamations were another challenge. Frank would need to look at all lots in an area, manually find out the lot sizes, add them up, then compare against archaic local planning controls to estimate the feasibility of a site.
The process of identifying suitable lots to acquire could take days, even weeks, depending on the area. As every developer knows, the slower the feasibility process, the more challenging it is to acquire sites.
Frank also spends a lot of time speaking directly with homeowners.
“It’s important to me that everyone gets a fair deal in any transaction, so I take the time to ensure it’s a win-win all around.”
Since the early days, Frank and Joe have always been looking for ways to improve their processes and use the latest technology. And this led them to Archistar, a rapid development feasibility software that also automatically generates building designs.
About 12 months ago, Frank began using Archistar to analyse all of the lots in a suburb that were zoned for apartments. Because Archistar has detailed zoning and planning regulations on a national scale, Frank runs rapid feasibility studies across the best locations to identify suitable lots to develop.
Frank estimates he can analyse up to three times the amount of properties using Archistar.
“Any time a real estate agent calls me with an opportunity, I run the address through Archistar, and within seconds can determine if the site has development potential.
“It’s a huge competitive advantage, and levels the playing field with the bigger developers.”
“One of the main benefits with Archistar is that is saves a lot of second guessing and going between multiple systems. Having all the key information in one place is a game-changer.”
Frank is a power user of Archistar and uses all the features extensively. The Nearmap integration allows Frank to see accurate current aerial imagery, which saves him driving out to sites.
And the Corelogic-Cordell integration helps Frank understand the current market activity and other developments happening in the area.
Frank will contact other developers who have recently launched a development application to see if they want to sell the site.
Frank and Joe have specialised in residential apartments and mixed-use developments to date. In the future they plan to explore other asset classes such as commercial and retirement.
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