Property player still confident


February 12, 2019

There is money to be made if you know where to look investor says.

Sentinel Property has continued to invest in the Mackay region for one simple reason. It makes money.

CEO Warren Ebert has invested in Mackay since the early 90s. His syndicated trust owns about $86 million worth of investment in the region.

“We have been investing here for a while and we’ve kept buying so we keep an on (the market) actively,” he said.

Although most out-of-town investors flew the coop when the mining industry began to collapse, Mr Ebert said his interest in the region never waned.

“We’ve been a solid investor all the way through the downturn,” he said.

“So while we have have (about) $80 million invested here and we have about 20 tenants – we never missed a month’s rent through the downturn,” he said.

“There are difficulties and there are challenges but Mackay has a solid base.

“People down south just don’t understand the strength of Mackay’s underlying economy.”

Mr Ebert visited Mackay last week to assess the market and look at investments to add to Sentinel’s commercial property books.

He said there had always been a vast misunderstanding about how the region was positioned during the downturn.

Mr Ebert said people focused on Mackay’s mining industry as a key indicator for investment success but an upswing brought with it as many negatives as positives.

He said it was important to appreciate the diversity of Mackay’s industries in making investment decisions.

“When you have educated people … bankers in Brisbane who have exposure to hundreds of millions who (don’t understand Mackay’s economy) what chance do the banks in Sydney and Melbourne have?” he said.

“Southerners come here to try and do a deal and the bankers say ‘Are you kidding? The economy is hopeless’,” he said.

But this is how Mr Ebert makes his money.

“The cycle is very clear if you care to have a look at it”, he said.

“We (invest) all over the place, we don’t care where, and we are happy to make money anywhere.

“We were a buyer in tough times, and we sat on them and added value … and now we are a very very active buyer.”

Looking forward, Mr Ebert said he expected a large number of industrial property deals to happen soon.

“We can see the past year how things have really turned, we acted on (that),” he said.

“You only have to drive around Paget to see the number of cars parked on the footpath. We are here to help, because 12 months down the track land is going to be more expensive and construction is going to be more expensive.”

Although he is optimistic about Mackay’s market due to the take-up of industrial properties, Mr Ebert said it would still be some time before any retail or residential developments took place.

He said this was attributed to the lack of understanding banks and investors had about the local market.

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