Crownland Developments

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Building the best future – A new housing model

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Crownland Developments is one of the most trusted, reputable, and well-established private residential development groups in Sydney. For more than 25 years, Crownland has been diligently creating desirable new master planned communities and housing estates in the city’s most prolific growth regions. As a developer, Crownland has a reputation for innovative thinking, adaptability, and enduring commitment to buyers. They recognise that each new home or home-site represents an opportunity for a client to achieve their dreams, and they are dedicated to making those dreams come true.

Recently, Crownland launched their flagship brand, Leppington Living – a brand that will allow them to fulfil their client’s dreams on a greater scale than ever before. Focused in the center of Sydney’s south-west, in one of the city’s most-connected and fastest-growing areas, Leppington Living offers a one stop shop, a supermarket of choice, for new home buyers.

With a great selection of premium building lots packaged with a superb range of designer homes from their partner builders, Leppington Living offers something for everyone. Crownland delivers and offers Leppington Living land across multiple estates in multiple locations at any one time to provide the choice of land while their Leppington Living partner builders offer their full range of designer homes.  The sales team at Leppington Living offer personal and friendly experiences which will appeal to young families and first-time homebuyers alike. No matter their budget, Leppington Living offers something for everyone so they can create their best future.

Crownland will launch their new Leppington Living display home village early 2021, which will showcase around 60 display homes form 30 selected partner builders. This will be one of the largest display villages in Western Sydney, providing the greatest choice of combination of Leppington Living land and quality new homes. This new village puts Leppington Living on par with all the tier-one developers in terms of choice of offering and volume of supply.

Andrew Wiesener is the founder and sole Principal of Crownland Developments, and the visionary behind the creation of Leppington Living as both a brand and a delivery model. He explains how his company differs from their competitors, and how Leppington Living closes the gap for buyers:

“We operate in very different environments than the larger, mostly public companies,” he says. “We have one of the largest land banks in Sydney, but we work in release areas that typically have small land holdings of three-to-five acre size land parcels. We generally develop 50-to-100 dwellings per site. The top-tier developers – the listed companies who do large master planned developments – typically have 200, 500, even 1,000 acres to develop a site. They often have 2,000 dwellings in one place. We are delivering what the tier-ones deliver but in release areas the tier-ones can’t. That sets us apart and gives us the edge.”

The downside of the larger developments that tier-ones typically offer is that there’s only room for them further away from the city – and the further away from the city they go, the less access they have to city infrastructure and amenities. Because Crownland works on a number of smaller sites, they can slot their new developments into more central locations, closer to infrastructure, where buyer demand is stronger, and where people want to live. And while these sites may be smaller, they are still largely located in the same Leppington suburb and connected through the Leppington Living brand – so Crownland Developments can market and sell them under the one brand, from the one location.

That location is the Leppington Living Display Village. For the last five years, that village operated as the Village Square display village at Edmondson Park, and encompassed 30 homes by 10 selected builders. Two years ago, Crownland rebranded the village to Leppington Living, and as part of that rebranding strategy, they and their builder partners are investing over $45 million in a new development for the new Leppington Living exhibition home village. As previously mentioned, that village will include 60 display homes by 30 builders.

This new, improved, and expanded Leppington Living Display Village is due to open at the beginning of 2021, and it will become the company’s primary delivery mechanism and distribution centre for the next five years. Clients will be able to visit the village to select a Leppington Living lot along with a quality new home from a diverse range of displays. They will be able to select a product they like, from a builder they like, and then they will be able to select a site and estate they like, from over 2,500 prime Leppington Living lots to be delivered over the life of the village. Their choices will be extensive, but also simple and easy, as they will be able to make them all from one place.

Over the next five years, Andrew firmly believes the offering will give Crownland Developments a significant marketing advantage over anyone else in Sydney’s south-west.

“We’ll have one of the biggest display villages, underwritten by one of the biggest land banks of any developer,” he says. “We’ll be a one stop shop. If you want to buy a house and land package in the area and the surrounding suburbs, you’ll want to come and see us.”

“I think if other developers want to build in Leppington and the surrounding suburbs, they’ll find it very challenging,” he adds.

Their greatest strength

Crownland Developments is not a large corporate business, and that’s by design.

Prior to conceiving his own company, Andrew Wiesener graduated from university with a Land Economics degree, and went to work with some of the industry’s biggest names. His resume includes time at JLL – a major real estate company then known as Jones Lang Wooton, and now known as Jones Lang LaSalle – and AVJennings – which was then the largest homebuilder in Australia. As Andrew honed his skills in those early roles, he realised a large corporate environment was not for him. At the age of 24, in the year 1992, he struck out on his own and created Crownland.

From the start of the company’s life, Andrew had the vision of developing house and land subdivisions in western Sydney. In the years since, that has remained the core of their business, though Crownland has ventured into the inner-city to do apartments, retail buildings, and high-rises. Most of those projects Crownland have undertaken in their own right, but throughout their history they have also delivered successful joint ventures with Macquarie Bank, Capital Finance, Walter Construction Group, Marsim Group, and Citi Centre Group. Their portfolio has grown to include landmark projects such as Twin Creeks Golf & Country Club, Camden Acres, The Lanes, Grey Oaks, and Oaklands Schofields.

In terms of staff, Crownland has also grown and evolved – but they have been careful to never grow or evolve too large, and risk becoming too bureaucratic. Today, the business employs a small but dedicated team of roughly 10 people, all self-starters, all of them sharing Andrew’s passion for building and his drive to succeed. Together, their experience encompasses site acquisition, planning and development, civil engineering, surveying, project management and delivery, and sales and marketing.

Among the tight-knit team at the company, Andrew describes the organisational structure as “extremely flat.” He believes that every member of the team contributes to the business and its direction, and they all feed off each other’s strengths, experience, and motivation.

“Our company’s greatest strength is our people,” he says. “They provide the energy behind our success.”

Moving quickly

To date, Crownland Developments has developed thousands of lots and hundreds of apartments. These projects have ranged in terms of size, value, and sector, and have included residential estates, lifestyle apartments, and integrated housing projects. Throughout their history, Crownland has been able to deliver these projects consistently, even during the market slumps that have slowed their competitors down.

Andrew has experienced three such slumps – the first in the early 2000s, then the global financial crisis of 2007-08, and now the tightening credit from bank lenders over the last two years – but Crownland has always persevered, and has usually even grown during the tough times. Andrew credits that perseverance to the strength of the company’s capital base.

“I believe a number of our competitors have found it challenging to start projects over the last two years,” he explains. “I believe a major reason for that is they can’t get financed, and the predominant reason they can’t get financed is banks in Australia require pre-sales to cover debt before they’ll lend you money. Because the market has been in such a state of decline, no one will pre-commit, so most companies can’t start developments.”

“What has set us apart in the slump is our capital base,” he adds. “We’ve been able to start projects without presales. So whilst the market has shrunk considerably in volume, our market share has increased. Not many companies have been able to develop during the downturn, but we have been able.”

“I think that’s a key factor that sets us apart – we can back ourselves and finance ourselves where our competitors can’t.,” he says. “We can grow our market share in slumps. That’s one factor that defines us.”

Another defining factor – according to Philip Scott, General Manager – is Crownland’s adaptability, which is enabled by the company’s aforementioned flat structure.

“We’re able to innovate and react quickly, which is especially important during times when the market changes very rapidly,” Philip says. “We have one Principal in this business, so we’re able to be very decisive. We’re able to gather market intelligence and product info very quickly, and we’re able to get that info to the top very quickly.”

“We don’t have a board that sits around for a long time and ponders every change,” he adds. “When we need to, we can change tact and move ahead with a different delivery strategy right away.”

In addition to moving quickly, Crownland Developments can also be relied upon to move in the right direction. Both Andrew and Philip credit that sense of direction to the market knowledge, experience, and expertise of their team. They say that includes both their direct team in-house, as well as their roster of long-term external partner – including their civil contractors, homebuilders, and partners in banking.

Balmain, for example, is a commercial loan manager. They provide the largest and most experienced source of commercial mortgage finance outside the major Australian banks, and they are among the longest-standing and most trusted partners of Crownland Developments. Balmain. They have over 100 staff in eight offices across Australia and New Zealand, and they possess a unique insight into borrowers unmatched in the industry.

Additionally, some of Crownland’s most important collaborations are with their network of highly regarded homebuilders. One example is Jandson Homes, a company that has been operating since 1985 and has completed homes for over 2,500 families in Sydney, many of them in the city’s south-west corridor. They have built their reputation on personalised service and the ability to customise to suit client’s needs. They are one of the carefully-selected builders operating in Leppington Living, where they offer the convenience of house and land packaging, as well as the option to custom build a dream home on a chosen block of land.

Practical Homes is another trusted building partner, and another key contributor to Leppington Living. They similarly deliver dream homes, and they are also backed by decades of experience. Like Crownland, they take pride in providing building options packed full of value, flexibility and quality. Their clients can use their own housing plans, or can work closely with their dedicated architect to design a house with their requirements in mind. Their contracts are fixed price, easy-to-understand, and include all the essentials with no hidden costs.

Crownland forms close partnerships with civil contractors as well – and that network includes Western Earthmoving, NSW’s largest family-owned company of its kind. They can take on projects of any size and complexity. They have earned a reputation in their industry for strength – strength of culture, strength of success, and strength of partnerships like they have with Crownland.

Communication Excavations, meanwhile, are communications pit and pipe specialists, and another valued supplier of Crownland Developments. They offer a full of range of services to manage every stage of a pit and pipe project, and Crownland has frequently taken advantage of their breadth of skill. Their capabilities combine design, installation and compliance certification, and their experience and commitment to quality ensures that every project will be delivered on time and on budget.

All the above companies are long-standing and trusted names in their industries. Otherwise, Crownland would not take the chance to work with them.

“When it comes to our banks, our builders and our civil contractors, we’re very selective of who we will partner with,” Andrew says.

“For example, a number of builders have wanted to come in to our new display village, but if we don’t know who they are, if they’re unproven, we won’t allow them in. Our village only has builders we want to partner with. We only want to work with builders we know will provide quality and that will be here for the long-term. If they’re working under our brand, we have to know they’re going to live up to it.”

Once Crownland identifies that calibre of partner, Andrew adds, their approach to working with them is “one of open communication and open dialogue in respect to mutual business.”

“With all those companies, we focus on building long-term partnerships,” he explains. “We find that if we foster ongoing relationships with suppliers, then the supplier will want to foster the relationship too, and they won’t take advantage. It’s all about the long-term with us. We believe that if you take that view, you don’t come across short-term issues that you can’t resolve.”

 “It helps that we’re not seen as a one-off developer,” he continues. “We’ve been in business for over 25 years, so companies are interested in nurturing those relationships, because they understand that there are long-term benefits for them as well as us. There’s an incentive to do the right thing. It works well for everybody.”

Building loyalty

Moving forward, Andrew says that Crownland Developments has four-to-five years of land supply ahead of them, and that they are always buying more. Much of that supply will be in the form of house and land packages, but not all. The company is also delivering terrace houses, townhomes, and even some apartments.

To that end, the company has already launched a brand new and separate display village within Leppington Living to showcase their townhome offering. That village includes six architecturally-designed townhomes – each was built to maximise space for both entertainment and living, and each is “beautifully appointed, low maintenance, and secure.” Philip describes them as perfect as for “first home buyers, young families, or astute investors, and downsizers.”

Philip adds that the company’s near-term goal is to deliver more of those perfect offerings. He says maintaining their quality is more of a priority than growth.

“I don’t think our future is about becoming a big corporate organisation,” he says. “It’s about sticking to our principals, our values and our core strengths. It’s about meeting the expectations of our purchasers.”

Andrew agrees, and he adds that there is not much room to grow their market share anyway. He says they are already approaching 10 per cent of the new housing supply in Sydney, and even the largest company in the sector would only have close to 20 per cent. He reiterates that Crownland is not interested in becoming the largest company. Instead, he says their focus will be building brand loyalty and growing their reputation.

“We take our housing supply role seriously,” he concludes. “We’re dedicated to delivering that supply at a reasonable price point. We’re dedicated to providing value for money. We’re dedicated to delivering on our promises.”

“After all, we have to remember that we’re often dealing with young families who are putting their life savings in our hands, who trust us with their dreams. That’s a responsibility we have to take very, very seriously. I think our track record of 25 years shows that we’ve done that. Our goal is to keep doing that.”

For the latest on Crownland Developments – and for more on their people and past projects – visit https://www.crownland.com.au/ For more on Leppington Living specifically – including more on the Display Village and Townhome Display Village, and the selection of homes and builders within – visit https://leppingtonliving.com.au/