INDUSTRY TRENDS, PROPERTY ADVICE
Booming success out of a market downturn - Interview with Harj Uppal of Ralton Property Group
Posted by Development Ready on Dec 19, 2019

After extensive experience in property development and site acquisition, Harj Uppal branched out in late-2017 to open his own real estate service firm, Ralton Property Group. While some would have you believe that commencing operations during a market downturn is a fool’s errand, Harj believes the experience is what sets his company apart from the rest. This unique perspective, coupled with his ‘hands-on’ philosophy, are just some of the reasons that Ralton Property Group has gone from strength to strength in a notably short space of time. We sat down with him recently to discuss this in further detail.

DR:
As its founder, can you talk us through the origin of Ralton Property Group?

HU:
Ultimately it stemmed from a dissatisfaction with the status quo of services available to property developers and property agents. I’ve been in the industry for a number of years and have worked with many different groups, and I wasn’t happy with how those businesses were being run; there was no real hands-on approach to the market, so I wanted to create something with a point of difference. I wanted to create a team that had real knowledge when it came to development sites and project sales.

DR:
What are the principal operations and functions of your business?

HU:
Ralton Property Group covers a multitude of operations including sales, which extend from completed residential projects to large-scale greenfield sites, leasing and property management, project management and more.

The most important factor to note here, however, is that even though we work on behalf of the developer for acquisitions, we work extra hard to deliver a transaction that the vendors are comfortable with too. We look after our clients by ensuring that all parties walk away content and respected.

To achieve this, we adhere to a few points of distinction that our clients have come to praise us for; these include

  • 24/7 accessibility
  • The depth of our review into planning controls
  • Our feasibility reports which consistently meet developer expectations
  • And our intricate and detailed understanding of legal documentation 

I’m extremely proud of the way we conduct ourselves and you only have to read the testimonials, or speak to our clients, to see that the feeling is mutual.

DR:
Where does Ralton Property Group operate? Are you content for the moment or are you looking to expand?

HU:
Our office is based in Rosebery, NSW, however we operate across the entire state. We’ve also been involved in a number of notable deals in Queensland and Victoria, and have very close relationships with groups in Singapore and South East Asia.

I think it is impossible to be content in our business and we are always looking to expand the team. However, the most important factor to RPG is our team dynamic and the chemistry, not growth for growth’s sake.

DR:
Where do you find your clients and what are their backgrounds? Is finding clients a challenge?

HU:
We have a very tight-knit but vast network of clients, which has been building upon itself over time. Successful transactions often result in client referrals, but we also started Ralton Property Group with an array of trusted relationships.

We’re also lucky that within our network we’re not pigeon-holed to one type of client, so we speak to and work with large public companies as well as small boutique developers and investors.

DR:
Were you always interested in real estate? What lead you into the industry?

HU:
I remember reading a great quote from Mark Twain, which goes; buy land, they’re not making it anymore. And I think that really speaks to me and why I love real estate. Real Estate can often seem a simple industry from the outside, just buying and selling land, but there’s an abundance of layers, inner markets and variation that pulled me in – and my interest has never waned.

DR:
Who or where do you think you learnt the most, or learnt what was necessary to commence your own operation?

HU:
I think I can honestly say that I’ve learnt the most from the mistakes that I’ve made. They say a mistake is just a step on the road to success and I can absolutely stand behind that sentiment. They’ll not only make you smarter, but also thicken your skin – both of which you’ll need if you want to make it in this industry.

DR:
What does “a day in the life” look like for you within Ralton Property Group?

HU:
No two days are the same and I absolutely love it. However, in the moments that we find between client interactions, we’re often educating ourselves, diving deeper into market intricacies, new legislations, rezoning, or general industry news and affairs. Our office is a great environment where we bounce information off each other, constantly sharing and learning something new.

DR:
You’ve mentioned previously that a key to your success is your “personal approach” – can you explain what that entails?

HU:
I think it’s important, in our business, to be hands on with our clients. This extends into activities and services that might not have any real fiscal value, but are beneficial to them; such as viewing the materials and finishes of a project with the developer to not only guide them with our expertise, but also to instil confidence and support them. We take the call and show our clients how much they mean to us every day, and the business is the better for it.

DR:
Do you think that there have been any other keys to your success?

HU:
Sitting down and learning from leaders in the industry. Whether it be a builder, developer or architect, I always find it insightful to see how they see the market or what they have learnt from previous real estate cycles.

DR:
What are some of the projects that you are currently working on, have recently completed, or have in the pipeline that you’re proud of?

HU:
Two recent deals come to mind immediately;

6 McIntosh Street, Chatswood, was an acquisition on behalf of developer looking to create an amalgamated master site that would eventually yield a mixed commercial tower with a potential height exceeding 110m. This was a complex and unique transaction that took not only patience but a real personal understanding on behalf of all parties. 

16 & 18 Rainbow Street, Kingsford, involved the amalgamation and sale of 12 apartments over two blocks of land that will lead to a student accommodation development. It was unique because the site sold outright upon future planning controls, detailing our depth of knowledge from the initial feasibility stage.

DR:
Were there difficult times when you started Ralton Property Group? How did you overcome them?

HU:
When we opened Ralton Property Group it was during the market down turn of 2017/2018 – so it was tough to say the least. However, we backed ourselves and our team and turned it into a success.

Generally real estate businesses open during a progressive market, but we did the opposite and I’m thankful for that now. We’re prepared for the future in a manner dissimilar to many other property groups, and I think this is a great advantage.

DR:
Do you think you’ll operate differently during the dips and peaks? Do you have any advice for those starting out during a market downturn as you did?

HU:
What we really benefitted from when we started out was building our pipeline. A lot of agents and business get lost in trying to get the deal that pays now, which is important, but if you don’t have a strong pipeline and the market takes a dip, you’ll soon find yourself trying to play catch up.

You should also leverage your network. Be visible, whether it be in your area or within your core market, people need to know who you are and how to find you.

DR:
For those entering the industry, do you have any advice for where to start?

HU:
Find a market or segment and really work on that. So, if you’re going to sell sites, concentrate all your energy within that mark. Don’t try and sell sites whilst also trying to lease residential homes. You will find yourself getting lost and mismanaging deals. Try and master, or at least become comfortable with, one before or if you decide to try doing something else as well.



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