Why all not-for-profits should have a trusted property advisor

At MRS Property, personal relationships and community are at the heart of everything we do.

Since we began operating in 2002, we’ve formed long-standing relationships with many charities and not-for-profit (NFP) clients and we’re proud of the small part we play in their crucial work for our communities.

If there’s one thing we’ve learnt in that time, it’s that just as no two properties are the same, no two NFPs are the same either.

Our Property Advisory team acts for a variety of NFPs in all matters of property occupation, including lease, acquisition, divestment and investment strategy.

Since joining MRS 11 years ago, Senior Consultant Michelle Groves has become a trusted property advisor for many of our NFP clients, including Cara, the Can:Do Group, Cancer Council SA, Animal Welfare League SA, Meals On Wheels, Orana, St John Ambulance SA, UnitingSA, Guide Dogs SA/NT and Backpacks 4 SA Kids.

If you’re a charity or NFP, here’s why you should have a trusted property advisor like Michelle on your side, and how MRS can work with you to achieve the best property outcomes for your organisation.

We take the time to understand your organisation and your needs

At MRS, Michelle has taken the time to understand the property requirements of ‘profit-for-purpose’ service providers, which often vary significantly from other commercial occupiers.

“The key to securing outcomes for NFPs that make a real difference to their service offerings is being able to understand the unique nature of their business model, work practices and client needs,” said Michelle.

“This drives our property work in Advisory – the business of the occupier determines the property they need.

“When it comes to property advisory solutions in the NFP space, you’ve really got to look at things with a different set of eyes.

“We can’t find solutions for a project if we don’t understand our client’s property use and needs, of both their staff and their people.”

MRS Property is currently engaged to help Backpacks 4 SA Kids find new headquarters, having outgrown their current space in Para Hills West.

In order to gain an understanding of the requirements for their new premises, Michelle and the Property Advisory team explored all aspects of their business to learn how the space would be used.

“Before we began searching, we sat down with our client and asked them a lot of questions — how they use their property, how many staff, traffic movements, storage heights, accessibility, public interface, and the locations they service.

“We also had to consider the crucial volunteer workforce and their requirements, for example, looking at security, parking and access to public transport.

“They need industrial space but given they operate at night, they also require premises in a safe location.

“Many of these specific requirements are in addition to those of a commercial business.”

We are able to undertake search and negotiation for unique properties

Cara, a leading South Australian disability service provider, employs more than 1,000 staff, and supports even more people living with disability across our state.

Its Head Office in Adelaide is supported by a regional presence in Port Lincoln, Kadina, Port Pirie, Murray Bridge, Port Augusta and Mount Gambier.

MRS acts as a trusted property advisor for Cara across all leased and owned properties. Recently, Michelle assisted Cara to identify and secure a new Head Office property in Adelaide.

“Cara owned a suburban property which they had occupied since the early 1950s. The specialist facility had aged, and utilisation was poor, so a new ‘fit-for-purpose’ property was required in a central location,” she said.

While co-ordinating the sale of their existing asset, MRS embarked on an accommodation search to lease a contemporary central office.

A warehouse in Hindmarsh was identified and, after considered negotiation, construction works were completed by the landlord to fulfil Cara’s office and parking requirements.

“We undertook the lease negotiation on Cara’s behalf, achieving an outcome that our client was happy with and, as a result, the tenancy was secured on a long-term lease — which is a great outcome for Cara,” said Michelle.

“Their tenure also included expansion space which has been more recently completed to enhance service provision through SA.”

Another of MRS Property’s long-standing NFP clients is the Can:Do Group who provide support and assistance to children and adults who are deaf or hard of hearing, blind or have low vision, and also to their loved ones.

Last year, Michelle sourced the space, negotiated commercial terms and concluded the long-term lease on behalf of Can:Do for a purpose-built, state of the art centre for its clients within a former department store at Colonnades Noarlunga.

The centre is a place for families to embrace an expanded delivery of key services and features sensory play areas, a climbing wall, therapies, skills training, interpreting services, educational support and a full range of contemporary specialist hearing, vision and sensory services.

“We are proud to have been a part of this extraordinary facility which was an outstanding Group vision and years in the making,” she said.

We understand building compliance and regulations

According to Michelle, one of the greatest challenges that many NFPs face when searching for a new property is finding a building that is compliant — from a regulatory and a practical perspective — and particularly in regional areas.

“The greatest challenge is ensuring that building compliance is at the level required and managing negotiations with a landlord if there is a discrepancy,” said Michelle.

“While a property might meet compliance regulations, in a practical sense it may not offer sensible nor ease of access for people challenged with mobility.”

At MRS Property, our Advisory team can undertake negotiations on behalf of charities and NFPs to secure the best outcome for all parties involved.

Find a trusted property advisory today

At MRS, the benefit and value we bring to not-for-profit businesses around the country comes from the time we take to listen and understand your needs, and your business model.

Learn more about our Property Advisory services today, or contact Michelle Groves directly on (08) 8297 2400 or mgroves@mrs.com.au.