Government partnerships, a focus on sustainability and counter-cyclical acquisitions have bolstered Yolk Property Group’s growth.
It’s no secret Western Australia’s property sector has been feeling the effects of an ailing economy, but that hasn’t deterred Yolk Property Group from its hunt for new acquisitions and opportunities.
In the past 12 months, the local boutique developer has added four new projects to its pipeline, including its first development outside of WA, prompting the launch of a selling arm and the creation of a new project director licensee role.
Founded in 2012 by now directors Pete Adams and Tao Bourton, the Fremantle-based business has quietly gone about building its reputation as a residential developer with government, collaborating on multiple urban-infill developments across the state and strengthening its position among the top performers in terms of project sustainability.
These efforts were brought to the fore last year when Yolk received the rising star award at the Urban Development Institute of Australia’s WA Awards for Excellence.
“We’re giving the big guys a run for their money,” Mr Bourton told Business News.
“A lot of the bigger corporations very much have a (set) model they roll out and deliver.
“We can adapt, be agile and think outside the box.”
Mr Bourton said a counter-cyclical approach had driven the business’s growth, with 12 active projects collectively worth more than $270 million now on its books – its highest-ever volume of developments.
Projects include the SeaGrass beachside apartments within LandCorp’s Shoreline estate in North Coogee, its mixed-use apartment projects Heir in Bayswater and Little Lane Fremantle, as well as its Amble Estate project in Girrawheen, a collaboration between the Department of Communities and Ventura Home Group consisting of about 129 apartment and townhouse dwellings.
Planning is also progressing for the group’s first east coast project, Armstrong Creek, a new master planned community in Geelong, Victoria, which will deliver about 600 new homes.
Mr Adams said that project was the first part of Yolk’s national diversification strategy, with plans to enter Brisbane’s house-and-land market on the horizon.
“When one market is coming off, another is going strong,” Mr Adams told Business News.
“As a boutique developer, our projects are medium size, which allows us to move in and out of market cycles quickly and nimbly and this appeals to investors in uncertain times.”
Mr Adams said identifying prime sites located near amenities had underpinned Yolk’s acquisition strategy, and that launching its own selling arm in 2018, branded Yolk Real Estate, had been the next logical step for the business.
Yolk appointed Andrew Graham, former Frasers Property sales and marketing director, to head up the new real estate division, taking up the position of project director licensee last month.
Mr Graham has also become a director of Yolk, alongside Mr Adams and Mr Bourton, and will play a role in shaping the business’s ongoing expansion plans, with office, commercial and aged care potential areas under consideration.
Mr Graham said the business was well positioned to leverage opportunities, as positivity was starting to return to the WA market.
“If a project is well priced, has good amenity and design principles, purchasers will make the buying decision," Mr Graham told Business News.
“Yolk approaches things from a different perspective, pushing the boundaries when it comes to innovation and sustainability, which really appeals to me.
“The company’s been kicking a lot of goals under the radar for a long time, but I think we’re at a point now where the industry is really starting to take notice.”
Yolk became the first property developer in the state to use shared solar technology in a large-scale strata-setting through its Evermore WGV project, a 24-apartment development within LandCorp’s White Gum Valley estate.
Evermore, completion of which is expected in August, has since been recognised by the Bioregional Australia Foundation as a One Planet Community – the first apartment development in WA to do so.
The project is also part of a pilot program led by Curtin University exploring how to increase the uptake of solar photovoltaics in strata residential developments.
“Projects like Evermore really help us stand out from the crowd,” Mr Adams said.
“It stems back to when we started; we didn’t just want to tick boxes.
“It’s also about future-proofing; it’s inevitable that more developments are going to move towards sustainability.
“So I think we’re slightly ahead of the curve.”