Michael Loccisano – Director, Hallmarc
What attracted you to the industry (and when)?
I grew up in the industry as my father was a land developer. I joined the industry straight from high school at 17 and went straight to work before I even had a driver’s licence. I started in commercial property management, then moved into sales and leasing. It wasn’t long until I was working in land subdivisions and houses, and I haven’t looked back since.
What do you love most about the industry?
The diverse range of people I work with. At Hallmarc, it’s fantastic to work with such a great team of dynamic, young people. I feel it’s my responsibility to ensure they have the necessary skills to become the next generation of professionals to continue the Hallmarc traditions. It’s also rewarding to help our customers – whether they are a young couple buying land or a townhouse or baby boomers downgrading to a smaller home. And being in the business of creating new projects, it’s always immensely satisfying to see the built form when it’s completed. What’s even better is coming back 10 or 15 years later and seeing that the work has more than stood the test of time.
What do you consider your proudest moment or greatest achievement?
There isn’t one single thing, but watching the Hallmarc brand diversify from design, construction and sales and marketing into other areas, such as serviced offices, has been satisfying.
I can’t say I have regrets. I worked in the family business for 10 or 11 years and enjoyed every minute – the only thing I can think of is not to have started Hallmarc earlier.
As a developer, there are so many hurdles for you to jump. For instance, taxes on a house-and-land package typically amount to about 30 per cent of the price. And the delays in producing the final product are, in most cases, the result of layer upon layer of red tape. What we need, with the imminent doubling of Melbourne’s density and population, is sensible policy and an independent planning authority with teeth that is completely divorced from politics.
If you had the power, how would you improve the process of developing a project?
I would establish the planning authority to end the “management by committee” approach that seems to dominate the Victorian landscape. We’re stifling creativity and obvious solutions from the people who actually work in the industry to make it happen. The construction industry is what is keeping our economy afloat, yet the constant policy revisions and focus on consultation is creating inefficiencies and extra costs for consumers through unnecessary delays.
What’s the biggest misconception people have when buying a townhouse?
What most people struggle with is an understanding of space, especially empty nesters downsizing from a family home into a more-manageable townhouse or apartment. That’s why we go to great lengths to assist and build full-size display suites so they can touch and feel the finishes and give them an awareness of the space. The reality is that downsizing means adjusting to a smaller space. But if it is well designed with minimal wasted space and includes functional spaces and storage, anyone can generally live in a smaller home. People’s expectations are now higher and they ask a lot of questions before choosing where to buy, especially when buying off the plan. We have a created a buyer checklist to assist them, comparing apples with apples, and buyers love it.
If buying and building tomorrow, what features would you most like incorporated in your community?
We thoroughly assess all the feel-good trends and then pick and choose features that will benefit our clients with an immediate payback and also in the longer term. With our townhouses, for example, we focus on practical solutions, such as double-glazing with tints and commercial-grade windows and doors with proper seals and thermal properties, which combine for excellent energy savings now and into the future. In short, we tend to prioritise quality componentry and functional design within a space that people can comfortably live.
What should buyers look for when deciding which builder or developer to choose?
The leading traditional home builders do a very good job, producing a very good product at a very good price, so we can’t and don’t compete in that space. We develop our own projects from end to end. We employ our own architects and designers, we do all the construction, sales and marketing and even owner’s corporation management after completion. If you’re buying off the plan, look for a developer with a good track record. From experience, the more the developer does in-house, the better it is. We prefer having complete control over a project, rather than outsourcing each step.
What do you think buying a home will look like in 2030?
It will change a lot, but mainly with the rental market and the need for fully furnished apartments. Looking into the future, people require different accommodation needs through their life – from renting apartments in their 20s and early 30s, to family homes for the next 20-25 years, and then downsizing back into apartments or townhouses once the kids leave home. Townhouses in popular areas will replace family homes, in turn reducing maintenance and improving lifestyle.
Interview by: Ross McGravie