Ex-AFL player makes splash in commercial world
AFL careers rarely have a perfect ending and Nick Lower was no exception, but it didn’t take him long to find a silver lining.
The former Fremantle, Port Adelaide and Western Bulldogs player was just 26 years old and still had plenty of good games left in him when the Dogs called time on his AFL journey at the end of the 2013 season.
He’d played some of the best footy of his career during the first half of that year, but a concussion and a fractured cheekbone that he received in the second-tier VFL derailed his hopes of cementing a place at the club, and he never played at AFL level again after Round 14.
While he now admits he took some aspects of his elite sporting life for granted, he also refused to wallow in his disappointment for long once it was over.
If you’ve been paying very close attention to Melbourne’s commercial property landscape, you might have stumbled across Lower’s name in the last couple of years. When his AFL days were done, he switched his playing guernsey for a suit and embarked on a new career as an agent.
Having completed a job placement at CBRE, where he was able to dabble in various areas of commercial real estate, the sales side of the industry piqued his interest.
“They involved me in some pretty heavy stuff for someone with no experience and … was really interested in it,” Lower says.
“I found myself amongst the city sales team and things kind of went swimmingly there. Once I finished footy it was a pretty smooth transition into life as a real estate agent.”
He initially cut his teeth on the residential projects team, which he says was an eye-opener. “You kind of learn the really hard lessons of ‘selling 101’ in that off-the-plan project space,” he says.
It’s funny, Melbourne’s one of those places where footy’s pretty high on the agenda when it comes to meeting new people, so it’s certainly held me in good stead in some conversations
Two years on and still with CBRE, Lower is focused mainly on strata retail and strata office space in the CBD.
“Some of the bigger projects I’ve worked on, there’s a project in Flinders Lane called The Edition, which we’ve been fortunate enough to sell the majority of. So that’s been a great learning curve,” he says.
“I’ve been involved in a few transactions for Icon in Hawksburn, which was nine shops that we sold down there. Earlier this year our team transacted the largest ever whole floor strata office in Victorian history, which was 12-14 Claremont Street.”
Having a name that footy fans occasionally recognise doesn’t hurt in this business, either.
“It’s funny, Melbourne’s one of those places where footy’s pretty high on the agenda when it comes to meeting new people, so it’s certainly held me in good stead in some conversations,” Lower says.
We’re seeing a lot of small to medium business owners take advantage of their self-managed super fund and using that investment vehicle, which is really good to see
“I’ve been fortunate enough to do business with guys like Mark LoGiudice, who’s the president of Carlton, and some other footballers along the way, so it certainly helps. Every now and then you get the odd Footscray supporter who might recognise the name, but unfortunately I wasn’t at the high end of the AFL spectrum so I tend to go under the radar a bit, which is nice.”
Despite being in the industry for only two years, Lower says he has already witnessed a dramatic shift in attitude towards commercial property, with many business owners now wanting to be their own landlord.
“I think at the moment one thing we’re really seeing, especially in my market, being mainly strata office, is that people are really starting to recognise the benefits of owning rather than leasing. Strata, as a word in particular, is relatively unknown to a lot of people,” he says.
“It’s that education process, I’ve seen it dramatically change over the last six months, from an unknown word to a word that people are throwing around quite regularly.”
“We’re seeing a lot of small to medium business owners take advantage of their self-managed super fund and using that investment vehicle, which is really good to see.”