Since he retired from AFL football, Andrew Leoncelli has been the director of Melbourne Football Club, worked as a development manager of Hampton Property Group, before creating the Residential Projects business as a new line for commercial agency CBRE and is now the Managing Director in Victoria.
His host of experience, competitiveness and deep understanding of the Melbourne property industry has seen Andrew quickly become a lynchpin of the Melbourne property network.
We chat with Andrew to find out more about his transition from a career athlete to the property industry, the learnings he has transferred from AFL to real estate and his thoughts on the future of Melbourne’s property industry.
What are your beginnings and how have they shaped your experience in the property industry?
So I finished playing AFL football in 2003. I got married in November of that year and moved to Munich as my wife was a dancer in the Australian Ballet. After that, I moved back to Sydney and started working in property development with his father in law.
We developed a small project in Erskineville, which was a dirty word back then (being a gritty inner-city location) but it’s a trendy location now. After that, I was involved in the development of luxury townhouses on the cliff of Ben Buckler headland in North Bondi and it was there that I actively committed to working in the industry long term.
Did you always have an interest in the property industry?
Yes, I have always had an interest in the property industry. I had previously worked as a fixed interest broker while I was still playing football. I have an undergraduate degree in Commerce from The University of Melbourne with an accounting and finance major. I also have a Graduate Diploma in Applied Finance and Investment.
My aunty is a developer here in Melbourne, while my father and grandfather had been involved with the timber and hardware supply side of things - I’ve been surrounded by property all my life.
I’ve had also bought a property off-the-plan, so I understand the process from the buyers perspective.
What are your thoughts on the Melbourne property market as we start taking steps to fully reopening?
We are extremely excited about fully reopening. There is a lot of pent up demand from buyers as many people have not had the opportunity to inspect properties or purchase during the last few months. On top of the incredible market demand, there’s also the fact that interest rates are staying low for much longer than initially anticipated - which is significantly contributing to the surge in interest from buyers. Its never been more affordable to carry debt.
All forecasts indicate that next year the market will be stronger than ever - price growth and sales volumes are expected to increase significantly meaning the property market is on the cusp of a boom. This is an exciting time to be involved in Melbourne property and we are all looking towards the future.
How has your experience been working in property and what attracted you to the industry?
How all-encompassing this industry and career can be!
There are so many steps involved - identifying a site, doing feasibility, analysis, going through town-planning and navigating bureaucracy. These are just some of the elements involved but they all take serious professional and political acumen.
“It takes time, patience, nerves of steel and skill.”
Andrew Leoncelli, CBRE
This continues into floor-planning, preparing a project for the market, devising a sales strategy, delivering sales, preparing a tender pack, and so much more until the property is settled - this is just a fraction of a development’s life cycle and I love doing all of it!
During the process, you leave a lasting legacy on the landscape. I think that’s what attracted me to the property industry - the concept of creating something lasting.
How has your experience as a professional football player affected your role in the property industry?
The football side of me gives me this intense focus on competition. When people ask “do you miss football?” I say no, it’s exactly the same thing.
Just like in AFL, the property industry is super competitive, relentless and driven by hard work. There’s lots of disappointment so you really have to stay positive.
“If you stuff a kick up playing football, you have to bounce back straight away and focus on the next contest - it’s all about that next contest and moving forward - it’s the same thing with real estate.”
Andrew Leoncelli, CBRE
We will do deals but they may fall over - the buyer might call off the purchase within the three business days and you find yourself back at square one despite all the effort you’ve put into the project.
It sounds like an incredibly demanding industry, is this right?
It is; the people that work the hardest in my business make the most money and get the best results. Just like AFL, you can have talent but if you don’t work hard it almost goes to waste. While everyone in the business works extremely hard, it’s also really important to ensure you have some downtime.
Throughout the rush of it all, it’s very important to remember that life is all about balance. Despite the demands of the industry, you need to dedicate time to sit back and reflect on your work. Maybe also take up a hobby because as soon as you lose your inner balance, your work will begin to slip.