Turning property portfolios from risks into opportunities Posted 2011, 26 April The major thrust of my blogs over the past several years has been to focus on the issues surrounding commercial property leases. I have often talked too about the need for flexibility in leases, strategies for commercial property leasing and innovative thinking about business locations. And given the fast changing property markets, I have started to extend my thinking, and indeed the services I offer clients, to strategies for owner-occupied commercial property portfolios. The vast majority of businesses in New Zealand are small-to-medium sized enterprises (SMEs). And I believe most of them operate their businesses from small-to-medium sized mixed portfolios of leased and owner-occupied premises. In essence, the risks and indeed the opportunities for well-managed commercial property portfolios are the same whether you are leasing or an owner-occupier. Developing the right strategy is critical to minimising costs and maximising efficiency, staff wellbeing and managing the challenges of increasingly ‘virtual’ offices that can change in configuration day to day. It is a challenge for those responsible for managing a business’ property needs to consistently get their heads around the multiplying variables that must be considered. It requires a sea change in thinking. And that’s the area I find most exciting and offer my clients the most value. Basically it is about developing a capacity to think fast on your feet, and recognising changing trends in your business, the markets you serve, and how your locations and presence support your core business. Dynamic property markets present a great deal of risks, and it is important for a business to establish its ‘risk appetite’ when it comes to the location of its properties, the terms of the leases, the balance of owned property versus leased, and the level of ‘virtual’ work that can occur. Aligning the strategic thinking around locations and business growth goals is the key to turning the risk into opportunities.