Apartment Developments Q&A with Janelle Zhang

Market Insights
7 years ago
6 minutes
1. What sparked your interest in property and how did you start your career in the industry?
About 20 years ago, my first job was as a paralegal in a lawyer’s office. Because of my Chinese background, I started attracting more and more Chinese clients to the business, mostly property buyers. Soon afterwards I was invited to work in a real estate agency and pretty quickly became the top sales agent. Unfortunately it was a short time later that the owner decided to close the agency to retire. It was a coincidence and pure luck that I met David Milton, Managing Director of CBRE Residential Projects, who asked me to join his team and I have been working with him ever since.
2. What do you enjoy most about your job? What drives you?
I feel a strong sense of accomplishment every time I close a deal. I’ve made many lifelong friends through real estate, it’s what I’ve enjoyed most about the job. I feel like this type of role really suits me, I know what people are looking for in a property and I’m very happy to help them find the right property, it’s a pleasure and very rewarding working with them.
3. What is your Role at CBRE Residential Projects and what does a typical day involve?
This year I was promoted within CBRE Residential Projects to Managing Director of the Chinatown office. My daily activities involve managing and coaching the sales team and reporting sales progress to our clients (developers). I report to and work closely with David Milton in relation to project sales and all things related to team development. This is a really busy role, however I do manage to spend time with family and make time to catch up with my friends, some of whom are developers and also clients.
Greenland Centre 

4. When did CBRE Residential Projects open its Chinatown office and why?
CBRE Residential Projects strategically opened the Chinatown office in the heart of Sydney’s Chinatown about four and a half years ago. It was a smart move at the right time and the right place. I started when the office opened, recruiting around 10 sales agents. Very quickly the Chinatown sales team became an integral part of CBRE Residential Projects sales force working across many large projects within Sydney and achieving outstanding results.
5. During your career have you seen women becoming more involved in senior roles in the property industry?
During my career, most of my days have been very busy. I will work 7 days if I have to, to get the job done. I rarely think I’ve been disadvantaged by being a female sales agent or manager in the property industry. I am a very direct person and I have always worked hard. I think every individual, regardless of gender, has equal opportunity to move up into senior roles within the industry.
6. What advice would you give to women wanting to enter the property industry?
To enter the industry, you will need to work hard and smart. You must work with a real passion for what you do. The industry moves at a fast pace, you must learn quickly from your mistakes to prosper. You need ambition and drive to be successful, to be a top achiever within this industry. Then you will have a lot to enjoy.
7. Your role sees you working with the Chinese market in Australia, why do you think the appetite for property in Australia is so great with the Chinese purchaser?
If you consider the last 200 years in Chinese history you will find the Chinese have had to overcome a lot of adversity. From very humble and poor beginnings, the Chinese are now accumulating wealth and prospering. That’s why many Chinese families save money on the day-to-day items in their daily lives but never hesitate to buy properties as an investment for their family’s future.
PRIME Macquarie Park 
8. Do you see this growth continuing into 2017?
Yes, I do believe the property market in Australia is growing in the next few years, certainly in 2017. Australia would be more and more attractive for people from China considering emigrating because of the quality of life, education, safety, stability and so on compared with US, UK and Canada.
9. What key things is the Chinese investor looking for in an Australian residential development? What is most important to them and what trends are influencing them?
They look at growth areas and prime locations that are in close proximity to the city or in the city, close to shops, schools and public transport. In regards to the development itself they look for high quality developments and a premium apartment with a high standard of finishes and appliances. These have become more popular to the Chinese buyer.
10. What projects are you currently working on?
I am currently working on a project called Prime at Macquarie Park. I have found this to be the perfect example of a project Chinese buyers are looking for. It’s located right next door to a large shopping centre, a short walk to the train station and a large university. It’s also situated within a large business park where tens of thousands of people work. All of this is attractive to the Chinese buyer. The location, the quality, the whole package really make me think it is repeat of what happened in Chatswood around 10 years ago.
PRIME Macquarie Park
11. What are your interests outside of work?
My life is quite simple. I enjoy spending time with my family, watching my kids grow up. I have two dogs at home who are always around me and I have many long-term friends. We all like cooking simple Chinese food at home and also dine out together from time to time. I love travelling with family and friends. My phone never stops.

Find more information on CBRE Residential and their Projects here.