Orchard Property Group: a heritage of excellence

WORDS: Ocean Road Magazine Editorial Staff PHOTOGRAPHY Supplied

Orchard Property Group is a relatively young company that leverages a combined 100 years of experience in the residential development market within its high-profile leadership team.

Founded in 2014, Orchard has become synonymous with quality land releases in south-east Queensland and, with a development pipeline of 1,600 lots across 10 projects, the company has set in train a strategy to meet sustained demand for residential housing in some of the region’s most sought-after locations.

The Gold Coast company was established on the principle of creating vibrant communities for families. Co-founders Ted Cronin, Barry Cronin and Brent Hailey, who between them bring a wealth of legal, financial and development leadership experience to the company, take that mission personally.

“One of the things we like to be able to do is go back to any of our developments in five years and still like the way it looks,” says Ted Cronin, the Orchard Property Group CEO. “We’re extremely proud of our record over the past nine years.”

Orchard Property Group is highly focused on residential developments for the end-user market, creating housing subdivisions that primarily target the owner-occupier.

“That usually means devoting more time to ensure the building product is right, setting the design guidelines for appealing streetscapes and even establishing a park if the planning allows for it,” said Mr Cronin.

“Location is also important, so from the buyer’s perspective it’s about the proximity to amenities, such as schools, shops and transport.”

Among the key projects currently in development are Aurora Ripley, Pebble Creek South Maclean, Willow Logan Reserve and The Junction Narangba, all of which have met strong buyer demand. These and the group’s future active developments are located in the south-east region’s key growth areas of Ipswich, Logan, Moreton Bay and Gold Coast.

“Our vision is all about legacy,” said Mr Hailey, an engineer with 42 years experience in the development industry, including stints as CEO of both BMD Group and Villa World, and as COO of Devine Limited.

“We have developed long-term relationships with really experienced consultants and they understand our vision. We also work closely with some of Australia’s major builders, such as Metricon, Simonds, Coral, Burbank Homes and Plantation.

“They know they can rely on our preparation of each subdivision. We take particular care with our lots to ensure they are ready for trouble-free construction.”

Mr Hailey sees relationships with leading builders as essential to providing value to home buyers.

“We work to ensure there are no surprises for our builders and our land buyers,” Mr Hailey said. This leads to a smoother construction process for buyers and more broadly keeps construction costs lower.

“It’s hard enough for a buyer to source the land, then have to choose a builder and design their home. Having land that is ready to build on, that builders have confidence in, is integral to our market position. These considerations are particularly important for owner occupiers because all they want to do is build their dream home.”

Orchard Property Group operates a syndicated development model which provides a solid capital foundation for each of its projects. A separate funds management arm with its own Australian Financial Services Licence is backed by investments from wholesale investors. These are largely high-net-worth individuals who are well-known to the company’s executive team and who have supported the company from the outset.

“We are in a great position for future growth,” said Mr Cronin, who prior to co-founding Orchard had an extensive career in funds management and property development, largely with Villa World.

“Our resilience comes from our funding model, which is sound. It has backed our business growth for the past nine years.”

Resilience will be critical for developers in the year ahead with rising interest rates taking the steam out of buyer demand. But Orchard Property Group sees the slowdown as a positive after spending the past couple of years playing catch-up amid the industry’s well-documented supply constraints.

“We have a solid pipeline of development work in train, and with interest rates increasing, our sales have eased to more normalised levels which we believe is better for us and for our buyers,” said Mr Hailey. “We’ll be able to better serve our buyers in the year ahead.”

Orchard Property Group has deliberately diversified its portfolio to cater for varied buyer markets. Pebble Creek, its flagship project with 646 lots at South Maclean in Logan, has lots priced from $226,000 with a full house-and-land package able to be delivered for under $500,000.

A new 32-lot boutique development at Calamvale, known as Jade, will have lots priced from under $600,000 as it delivers prime residential home sites just 20km from the Brisbane CBD.

“The year ahead will provide challenges, but that is something that hasn’t changed in the 42 years I have been in the industry,” said Mr Hailey.

“It’s essential for developers to adapt to those changes as they arise. We have a great deal of longevity with our pipeline and a number of projects in the acquisition phase. With more than 1,600 lots on our books, that is the equivalent of between four and five years of supply.”

Orchard Property Group is always exploring new markets for development opportunities, including some interstate, but for now, it remains focused on south-east Queensland where strong market fundamentals are forecast to sustain high demand.

“Our business remains quite agile and resilient,” said Mr Cronin. “We have a small team that can adjust quickly to market trends and we are constantly monitoring demand in key locations to stay ahead of those changes.”