In profile: WBP Property Group's senior property manager Phillip Walters


Agent: Phillip Walters


Position: Senior Property Manager

Company: WBP Property Group

Office location: Melbourne

How long have you been in the industry?

    I started in Real Estate over thirty years ago and have worked in various areas of property during my career. I had my own retail business for nine years but even during that time I worked as a consultant helping people with commercial property.  

    What’s happening in the area you specialise in?

      Lately we seem to be helping people with relocations, expansions and generally helping people to adapt to the new economic environment. We have just completed a national rollout for one of our clients as their business expands.

      We have a number of Retailers wanting to down-size as they alter their buying practises to compete with internet traders. We have negotiated a number of short term abatements and brought the retailers back to paying full rent thus helping the retailers’ cash flow and maintaining the capital value of the asset. Sometimes these are difficult decisions however our advice was not to go to market to secure a new tenant as the market was too soft. The Landlord was facing the inevitable of losing some money but our strategy protected the capital value. We didn’t give any advice until we had drilled down into the retailers business and financial situation.  

      Describe the most interesting property you have managed

        There is no one property that is the most interesting.

        Milleara Shopping Centre had four years worth of outgoings to reconcile, leases that needed clarifying in order to determine no recoverable outgoings and percentage rents. These issues went to the heart of the value of the centre. After determining the true income, I worked with Esanda, the selling agent, the buyer and the solicitors through the due diligence to settlement.  

        Lansell Plaza in Bendigo had quite a few issues. On the whole the retailers were trading at one third the national average for retailers in similar centres. I worked on design issues, centre layout, leasing strategies, finishes and the centre’s amenities. We identified issues from our own observations as well as focus groups and detailed research. On completion of the redevelopment within twelve months the retailers traded in line with the national averages.  

        Marysville business incubator was the most satisfying. Marysville had been completely devastated by a bush fire. Only a few buildings remained. I worked as a consultant with State Government, Treasury and Finance to alter an existing shed that had survived largely intact and turn it into a supermarket and business incubator. I set it up to function a bit like a shopping centre and established the building to government standards. I worked with the locals and trained a local real estate agent in the rudimentary skill of managing a centre. I am still in contact with these inspiring people.  

        What are the ingredients to being successful in your job?

          Look at the facts, the legal frame work we work in and the potential for everyone to make money. Exit strategies are an important part of a leasing strategy and managing the whole process is a responsibility we have to our tenants and Landlords alike and key to maximising returns. Everyone is keen to focus on the leasing component but often not sure how to talk to sitting tenants about exiting or giving up space to create more opportunity. A lot of this comes from experience.  

          What aspects of your role do you enjoy the most?

            Being an agent for change when the change makes everyone money.  

            Where would you invest a spare $750,000?

              There are a number of standalone shop fronts and factories where the zoning is about to change and allow office uses. I would be targeting well positioned opportunities for potential development where you can get a good passing rent in the mean time.  

              Which football team do you support?

                Next question! Richmond have been on the comeback trail since I was a teenager.  

                What’s your favourite app or techno gadget?

                  IPhone, a love hate relationship. I hate it when it goes off at inconvenient times then love it because I can resolve issues immediately. I can reply to emails, search the internet for quick answers and call anyone I need on my contact list. Then get back to my coffee within minutes of an issue blowing up.  

                  How do you use social media?

                    Facebook and linkedin, truth be known, Facebook so I can keep an eye on what everyone else is up to and linkedin I am still fairly new to. Isn’t twitter what birds do? The new social media in real time that I am yet to embrace.

                    Twitter account:

                    Larry Schlesinger

                    Larry Schlesinger

                    Larry Schlesinger was a property writer at Property Observer

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