From $36k to $488m: How this Aussie Tim Gurner built a property empire

October 29, 2016 5:30 pm
Tim Gurner has been named Ernst & Young’s Emerging Australian Entrepreneur of the year. Photo / Corp
There are winners and losers in ’s market.
While many Gen Ys are battling to scrape together a deposit on their first home, Tim Gurner is making millions.
The 34-year-old developer has been named Ernst & Young’s Emerging Australian Entrepreneur of the year, after becoming the youngest new entrant to BRW’s 2016 Rich List with a net worth of A$460 million ($488m).
And it all began with a humble gym in the suburb of Elwood, when Gurner was just 19 years old.
“I saw an opportunity and took over the lease,” he told news.com.au.
“I didn’t even know what I was doing, to be totally honest, but it was a really good opportunity, a good spot.”
His grandfather gave him A$34,000 ($36,000) to kickstart the project and Gurner spent four weeks renovating the space while getting his gym licence by correspondence.

After running the gym for another year, Gurner offered it for sale to one of his competitors and “they took it straight away”.Within six months, the place was pumping.
“It was a really good little first business,” he said.
Armed with a business degree from RMIT, Gurner did a brief stint with FKP Property Group briefly before going to work for veteran developer Morry Schwartz at Pan Urban, where he worked on several award-winning projects in Melbourne and was promoted to director, with a 30 per cent shareholding in the company.
When financing became tight after the Global Financial Crisis and Schwartz decided to focus on his publishing business, Gurner threw everything he had into Urban Inc, the development company he’d co-founded with Danny Ciarma in 2005. In a time of economic turmoil, it was a gamble that paid dividends.
“For property in Melbourne it was a boom market, because everyone moved out of the stock market,” Gurner said.
“Finance was obviously very hard, but we were selling apartments really, really well.”
Turning away from big developments towards boutique, high-end projects would prove to be a winning move.

Tim Gurner started out with a humble gym but now has a property empire. Photo / News Corp

After splitting with Ciarma, Gurner founded his eponymous brand in 2013, and “from there it’s been a pretty crazy ride”.
The company now has 5000 apartments on the go, worth a combined A$2.7 billion.
Capitalising on the demographic shift that has seen increasing numbers of families and young professionals wanting to live close to the city – many of them priced out of buying a house – the focus is on in-demand suburbs in Melbourne and .
“People want to live closer to the action, but affordability is the big driver,” Gurner said.
“I think if people could still afford, if A$600,000 could buy a quarter-acre block with a house I think they would be, but those days are well and truly gone.”
Asked what is was that stood his company gurner out from the pack, he said it was heavily focused on developing its reputation as a luxury brand, rather than “just a property business”.
“We don’t really spend too much time focusing on what the competition do, we just try to make sure every single brick of what we’re doing is the best it can possibly be, looking to do it differently and innovate in the way things are being done.”
Gurner’s A$600 million FV residential project in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley, which draws inspiration from New York’s famous flatiron building, sold out in months in 2014.
The final stage of the three-tower, 980-apartment project, with a rooftop pool, bars, private dining areas, cinemas, gym, yoga studio and conference centre, is slated for completion next year.

An ‘unprecedented challenge’

Just as he was undeterred by the GFC, Gurner remains confident amid warnings of apartment oversupply, which he labels “incredibly overstated”.
“The biggest misconception that I see is that people are talking about ‘the market’ being oversupplied, which is false,” he said.
“It’s very much specific locations, eg in Melbourne if you’re in Elwood, St Kilda, Collingwood, Fitzroy, I can tell you there’s undersupply, because you just can’t build enough to keep up with demand.”
More challenging, though, were the restrictions on lending to foreign buyers, which he described as “the biggest test for the market that I’ve ever seen”.
“One segment of the market not now, not ever getting any funding at all is a scary thing,” Gurner said.
“We’ve got Asian buyers and we know all of them want to settle, we do know a lot of them are having issues with funding … I think the GFC will look like nothing compared to this test that’s coming up over the next six to eight months.”
However, as his company is “very heavily focused on attracting the local market”, with foreign buyers making up just eight per cent of sales, Gurner believes he is well placed to weather the storm.
“The good developers will shine and the guys that do Ford factory product will really struggle,” he said.

Tags:
shared on wplocker.com