Co-Lab Residential reaping the rewards of doing things differently

Market Insights
3 years ago
6 minutes

Co-Lab Residential is a Melbourne-based boutique property agency specialising in some of the most extraordinary off-the-plan apartments currently being marketed in Melbourne. Responsible for securing record-breaking sales in their first year of projects, including The Muse on St Kilda Road and Rondure House in Kew, this tight-knit team is quickly establishing themselves as the go-to consultancy for premium, boutique, owner-occupier developments. 

The unique consultancy agency stands out from the crowd by offering a more holistic approach to selling luxury property. Director Daniel Cashen explains that unlike their competitors, Co-Lab Residential’s process doesn’t start and end with sales; “we offer more than the standard agency services - we focus more on the consultancy and advisory side of crafting unique developments within prime locations. We believe sales success is a predetermined outcome when a great team successfully collaborates and designs the right product, backed by high-quality, relevant storytelling. That’s why we always look to engage with clients at the earliest stage in the project life cycle.”

One of the secrets to their rapid success is that Co-Lab Residential ensures that projects are set up for success before the developer applies for their permit. Daniel explains, “there are so many great projects dotting Melbourne right now, but we’re on the lookout for the truly extraordinary ones. The best-in-class sites that will enable us to create benchmark offerings, elevate lifestyles and leave a lasting impression on Melbourne’s architecture.”


“This also means that Co-Lab Residential will only engage with a project that we assess to be the right fit for us, our brand and our principles.”

Daniel Cashen, Co-Lab Residential


Left to right – Hayden Namlu, Michael Robinson, Daniel Cashen

Considering location is often-time a key factor to a project’s success, we asked Managing Director Michael Robinson how Co-Lab Residential assesses the best locations for new developments; “first of all, we only work in locations which we know intimately; where we know the buyers and we know what they’re looking for. There are certain places within any suburb which are just perfect for higher density developments. This is generally guided by lifestyle preferences - for instance, some people may find the vibrancy of restaurants and cafes magnetic, while others are looking to wake up and go for a serene walk amongst beautiful parklands. The buyers we engage with know their suburbs better than anyone else. They have probably lived in the area for 20, 30, maybe 40-plus years. When we assess sites, this is front of mind for us - would a local want to live here?”

Daniel continues, “our first job is to discern who the ideal owner-occupiers are and what lifestyle they’re looking for. Is this a spot where a high-net-worth downsizer and long-term resident might buy their last independent home? Or is it more suited for a young professional or first-home-buyer? This then sets the tone for the whole development. The most important factor here is to be realistic about what’s achievable. We’re always transparent about this with our clients and ensure we’re setting up honest expectations.”

Arbour Park, Surrey Hills

Founded in 2020, at the start of COVID-19, Co-Lab Residential has made a big impact on the property scene in only 12 short months, but its Directors are no strangers to the industry. With over 50 years of combined experience, the three Directors have worked with industry stalwarts such as Mirvac and Knight Frank on some of Melbourne’s flagship projects. 

Starting a business in such turbulent times, the team knew they needed to do things differently if they were to thrive, not just survive. Director Hayden Namlu comments; “we decided we were not going to be as formulaic as other project marketers. We’re a relatively small company - especially when you look at the competition - and we want to stay that way. This allows us to carefully choose our projects and our clients. We want to work with project teams that are aligned with our core values - that is, to have a positive impact on the Melbourne landscape. We offer bespoke, customised solutions based on the unique characteristics of each project and the nuances of individual markets,” Hayden explains. 


“We push boundaries to create special outcomes.”

Hayden Namlu, Co-Lab Residential


Co-Lab Residential’s most high profile project to date is the ultra-opulent Muse Melbourne. With a reported $21m sale in 2020 - the highest of the year and a new record for St Kilda Road - the project is set to become an icon once completed in 2023. While Daniel and Michael are reluctant to share specific details of the sale to protect the buyer’s privacy, they can say that the contract was signed one week into last year’s Stage Four lockdown. 

Co-Lab Residential’s other record-breaking sale was the Rondure House penthouse - the most expensive apartment sale ever in Boroondara. This record-breaking sale was also secured during Melbourne’s first lockdown. “I wouldn’t say we’re the lockdown specialists! Let’s just say very good real estate is often hard to find, and when you create something that is rare and unique, people respond with urgency,” says Michael. 

The Muse, Melbourne

In their first 12 months, Co-Lab Residential has organically grown their portfolio while being conscious of not overcommitting to maintain their premium service levels. “Co-Lab Residential isn’t an overnight success. As colleagues and friends, we had been planning this move for some time and knew what we wanted the business to be. We made the decision early that our number one priority was not just to work on the best projects, but to work with the best people. We enjoy collaborating with businesses and individuals that are the best at what they do.” Michael explains. 

Other Co-Lab Residential projects include The Berkeley in Hawthorn, Auborn Lne. in Hawthorn, 1 Studley Park in Kew and their latest release Arbour Park in leafy Surrey Hills.