Interview with Patrick R. Pfrang, Co-Founder and Director
What is the core activity of Aura International Real Estate and how did it start?
Aura International Real Estate was founded in 2008 by my business partner and long-time friend, Verne Harland, and myself, to specifically help international buyers invest into property in Australia. We assist our foreign clients in buying dwellings – houses or apartments – or land to build property. We also manage our clients’ properties in their absence and look after all aspect of the maintenance.
Verne was already an extremely successful real estate owner with more than 30 salespersons scattered around 3 offices on the Gold Coast when I started working with him in 2006. When I came back to Australia, after a 10 year hiatus in France, I joined him for a few years learning the trade and focusing in particular on the New Caledonian market. As this new activity proved to be successful, we later decided to start our own company to become a smaller, more “boutique” type real estate agency, concentrating in fewer clients and looking after their local interests. His area of predilection, Hope Island and Sanctuary Cove, was very well suited as the two resorts are enjoying the FIRB (Foreign Investment Review Board) status. This federal act allows foreigners to purchase established dwellings in these two resorts, in opposition to generally being only able to buy or build new ones.
Can you describe your personal background and your role within Aura International Real Estate?
I was born on the French Riviera and educated in the city of Lyon, the second largest urban conglomeration in France and the Gauls’ ancient capital. My family was in the diamond business and I naturally became a diamond setter myself. I came to Australia in the early 70’s and practiced my skills in a Melbourne jeweller’s shop for a few years, but quickly moved into the luxury and cosmetics industry. My Frenchness and knowledge of the luxury sector opened many doors at the time. Starting as Marketing Manager at Orlane Australia, I developed along the way an expertise in general management, marketing and implementation of business development strategies. This new career path offered me wonderful opportunities – locally and internationally, from General Manager of Christian Dior Perfumes & Cosmetics for Australia to Asia-Pacific Marketing Director for Elizabeth Arden – based out of Sydney and Singapore.
After 25 years in Australia, I decided to go back to France for family reasons and settled in Aix-en-Provence. That’s where, after a short stint working for a local cosmetics firm, I made the transition into real estate facilitating real estate investment for international buyers in Provence. Once back to Australia, I started working with my friend Verne, whom I had met in the cosmetics industry 30 years ago!
Now co-founder and co-director of Aura, I am looking after the properties of our foreign investors from South Africa, England and New Caledonia, as well as several shopping centers. Beside paying bills and insuring the maintenance is flawless, I also manage the rentals portfolio of some of my clients. From time to time, I also manage new home projects: from the purchasing of land to the completion of properties, including, if required, all interior fixtures and fittings. I am also involved in management and marketing activities for developers of new projects.
How do you envisage the future of your company and how can FACCI help you achieve your objectives?
Obviously, being part of FACCI is about networking and circulating the information about being bilingual in the real estate industry which is an extremely important asset for foreigners (principally from New Caledonia) wanting to invest on the Gold Coast.
In terms of development, we are currently looking of course at the large number of units being develop on the Gold Coast. Those won’t have the FIRB status but the real estate market is a healthy market at the moment, so we are considering broadening our clientele. We are also discussing a new partnership with a New Caledonian partner.
For more information consult: www.propertytogo.com.au.
Interview conducted by Claire Dupré on 13 December 2016.
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