29 June 2020

How a third-generation surveyor found his bearings with Belle Property

| Sharon Kelley
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Mark Nicholls has big plans to expand the commercial offering at Belle Property.

Mark Nicholls has big plans to expand the commercial offering at Belle Property. Photo: Supplied.

Mark Nicholls comes from a long line of chartered surveyors. His father, uncle, and grandfather were all in the trade in Wales and England. It’s in the blood, as they say, and Mark continued the family tradition, studying for his Bachelor of Science Honours degree in urban estate management at John Moores University in Liverpool, UK.

After university, Mark travelled for a year, spending time on the east coast beaches of Australia, living in a VW Kombi van before returning to the UK to work as a graduate surveyor for three years, gaining accreditation as a chartered surveyor with the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

After gaining his accreditation, Mark landed a role with CBRE, the world’s largest commercial property company. He came back to Australia for what was meant to be a year-long work opportunity. However, he met his Canberra-born wife during the first three months of his stay and never went back to Wales, except to visit his family.

He is now happily married and has two children, and describes himself as thoroughly Australian.

“I’m more Aussie than most Aussies are,” he says. “I live on a farm in Wamboin, drive a ute and ride dirt bikes.”

Thirteen years after meeting his wife and becoming an Australian citizen, Mark is working to expand the world of commercial real estate opportunities for investors at Belle Property Group. He is the new director of sales and leasing, with director of retail Nathan Dunn, and head of asset management Greg Moore.

“My aim is to capitalise on the commercial property opportunity across the ACT, growing Belle Property Commercial’s market share and clearly differentiating our offering by listing quality stock aligned with Belle Property’s premium brand,” says Mark.

His in-depth experience in commercial property at CBRE and, more recently, managing the commercial stock within Geocon’s portfolio of mixed-use developments will be a valuable asset for Belle Property Group.

“Things are picking up again since the COVID-19 lockdown,” he says. “We’re in a kind of Canberra bubble, where there’s not a lot of COVID-19, and a robust market. People are much more interested in a commercial property investment than investing in the share market. Business is good.”

Mark’s current focus is on a tenanted investment at Space in Turner, as well as a vacant property opportunity at Centro in Gungahlin. These opportunities are ideal for investment and business, he says.

“A good commercial investment needs to have a number of fundamentals for it to stack up,” says Mark. “The numbers will tell you whether it’s a good investment; whether the property is over or under rented; what are the outgoings and can they be recovered; what is the strength of the covenant; and when does the lease expire. These are the primary things a commercial investor needs to look at.”

Mark has never had any interest in residential real estate, with his passion being for numbers and business rather than the often emotional connections involved in residential sales.

“A good commercial investment generally gives better returns than residential, albeit typically carrying higher risk and stricter lending criteria,” he says. “I’m much more about the numbers.

“Commercial property is a popular asset class for investors and Canberra is the ideal growth market, especially as it’s become a haven for investors with minimal impact on its economy from COVID-19.”

Belle Property Commercial has strategically placed offices throughout Australia that deliver exceptional service to the market. Offering brokerage and project management, coupled with years of experience and leadership within local markets, it delivers the best possible client experience.

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