Hines has targeted Australia as a key growth market for the group’s built-to-rent (BTR) operations in Asia-Pacific with a medium-term target of 5,000 apartments, valued at around A$5bn (€3.2bn).

Hines has so far acquired two sites, both located in inner Melbourne, which will offer some 500 apartments, between them.

Sam Bisla, who recently joined Hines to run its residential business in Australia, told IPE Real Assets: “Australia is a nascent market and it has attracted a lot of press. But to put in perspective, there are just 11 participants with one or more projects.

“Of those, three have an international background,” Bisla points to Greystar and Oxford Properties, both currently developing 1,000 apartments each. Both first established in Australia some four years ago. (Hines will be the third.)

“We see a strong opportunity to be a dominant player in this market because no one has any significant scale yet,” he said.

Hines’ focus is on Australia’s eastern seaboard – Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra and Brisbane.

Bisla said Hines had a number of offers out and he expected to close several more deals on sites in the coming months.

Unlike some of its competitors, who have aimed for scale in large buildings of 600-700 apartments, Hines was looking to smaller-scale projects which could be stabilised and become income-producing sooner, he said.

“Our strategy is to leverage to the submarkets with that aren’t linked to international travellers, highly amenitised with strong transport links.”

Hines has active portfolios of multifamily assets in the US and Europe and it had “every intention” of replicating that in Asia Pacific, including in Hong Kong, Japan and South Korea, where it was already acquiring assets, he said.

“We have an existing management company in the US and Europe. So we have all the infrastructure in place, In fact, we are bringing our senior vice president of operations from the US, a Hines veteran of 25 years, to run the show in Australia.”

“Our senior property manager is already here, and we are bringing in general managers who will bring our Hines international IP (intellectual property) over,” he said.

To read the latest edition of the latest IPE Real Assets magazine click here.