TheUrbanDeveloper.com caught up with Melbourne developer Trent Skurrie to gain an understanding of his unique approach to property development. His company Jacmax takes a high end approach to creating prestigious residential apartments.
- What sparked your interest in property?
I’ve had a real interest in property development from a young age. After completing my commerce degree, I was lucky enough to start working within the property industry, mainly in commercial development. Through my wife, founder of Chloe Skurrie Architecture and Interiors, I was exposed to high-end residential property and have really fallen in love with design and residential development.
- What drives you – has there been someone or something that has inspired your career?
I’m really driven to create developments that I can be proud of, from both a design and quality perspective. A love of property is somewhat in the blood – my brother is the head of large residential construction company, Ironside Construction, and my wife is a high-end residential architect. My family have also had many property investments and dabbled in property development on a much lower scale. My firm’s current focus on high-end residential apartments was really driven by the challenges my own parents faced when the family home simply became too big for them once my younger siblings and I left. They had a desire to move into something that was slightly smaller and more efficient, but still offered large areas for entertaining family and friends at a level of quality they’d come to expect. Their struggle to find a luxury apartment that’s efficient and promotes a lowmaintenance lifestyle, inspired me to fill this gap in the market. Jacmax is ultimately building toward transforming the conventional concept of apartment-living, to introduce a new breed of apartments combining opulence and simplicity.
- Can you describe your approach to property development?
My approach is to develop properties I could see myself living in very comfortably. I could never develop something I didn’t believe was of the quality and comfort that I would expect for my friends and family. As a result, we are always driving to create residences that offer a higher level of space, volume and quality than what can be seen in many competing developments. I genuinely believe there has been a shift in the market and that buyers understand you have to pay for high quality homes in premium locations – and that it is well and truly worth it in the end.
- What drove you to engage with an international architect?
We were really keen to work with a group who had a strong focus on really high end residential homes, rather than a background in apartment development. We wanted the apartments to feel like large homes rather than apartments. I’d been a long time admirer of Fearon Hay’s work and thought their aesthetic was perfect for the Brighton market. I rang them in the hope that they’d be interested in the project and feel really honoured they agreed to work with us on the development – its not everyday you get to work with architects who have won multiple world architect awards! We gave them a blank page to create Lindsay with the simple brief to develop grand apartments with plenty of volume and light. I couldn’t be happier with the design and believe it offers so many unique qualities not seen in other apartments.
Above and below: Lindsay at Brighton in Melbourne from developer Jacmax and Fearon Hay Architects.
- As a boutique developer, how do you set yourself apart from others operating in the same field?
The number of boutique developers in Australia is continuing to significantly grow, so setting yourself apart becomes more and more difficult. Our real point of difference is our focus on design-led architectural outcomes in premium suburbs and our willingness to work with buyers to ensure the properties are perfect for the end user. Every buyer lives in their home in a different way, so we offer them access to our architects throughout the construction process to ensure the details are in-line with their vision. This may include changing bathroom designs, amending lighting layouts, or even adding extra space for shoes into the wardrobes. We believe this level of service sets us apart from our competitors and ensures each residence is truly bespoke.
- How do you respond to the demands of the premium buyer?
In my experience, the premium buyer is always challenging because they are extremely knowledgeable about the product and clear on what they want. As a result, it’s important to provide detailed development information meeting all their requirements to ensure the buyer is confident in the quality of the end product. Our buyers are owner-occupiers and are often moving out of the family home for the first time in years, often decades, so there is an emotional layer to the decision making process not often found with investors. It’s our goal to provide detailed information, get them involved in the design and delivery process and to help them make the transition as smooth as possible.
- In an ever-changing market, what trends are emerging and how are you responding?
I think there is a real shift in how people view apartments. A lot of our buyers said they would never consider apartments previously because they have always seen them as quite small, as well as lacking natural light and quality. Our goal is to change this perception and to help people understand the benefits of apartment living, including centralised locations, ease, efficiency and security. This can be gained without needing to compromise on space and quality. Our developments are specifically aimed at premium owner-occupiers to ensure neighbours are often like-minded individuals. We believe we are offering many purchasers access to a product they couldn’t achieve by themselves – access to world class designers, premium locations and large single level residences that offer all the qualities buyers are used to.