Full Circle
    Category: Entrepreneurs By : Renjani Puspo Sari Read : 3422 Date : Sunday, February 16, 2014 - 23:55:21

    Edy Purnomo for Forbes Indonesia

    Iwan Sunito is one of the most successful members of the Indonesian diaspora in Australia. Starting in 1996, he and his co-founder Paul Sathio, a Balinese living in Australia, have built Crown group into a major property developer in the country, with A$3 billion worth of developments in the pipeline.

    Although Iwan took Australian citizenship three years ago, his parents and other relatives still live in Indonesia. Last year, he came full circle when he opened Crown's marketing office in Jakarta, the group's first overseas branch. The office is already becoming an important part of the business, helping to market Crown properties to Indonesians, who already represent one of his largest group of buyers.

    For example, an Indonesian buyer recently bought the penthouse of one of his luxury condo projects for Rp 33 billion. “The buying power of Indonesians is really strong, especially investors who have businesses here. For wealthy Indonesians, Australia is a destination for business, holiday and study, so instead of renting, they prefer to own their own place,’’ Iwan says. He notes that his Indonesian buyers typically spend at least Rp 6 billion when buying Australian properties.

    Crown specializes in high-end projects, favored by Asian buyers. His developments have evocative names such as V, Skye, Viking, Viva and Top Ryde. His latest project has the classic name Sydney, in the heart of Sydney's business district.

    Iwan, with support from his wife Liana Sunito and Paul, started an architecture business in Sydney in 1994 called Joshua International Architects. For two years, he designed and built luxury homes in the city's north shore. In 1996, he decided to go into property development, again with Paul. He raised A$5 million from friends and family and set up Crown Group Holdings Pty Ltd. His first development was a retail and apartment complex in Bondi Junction. “I sold units at A$300,000 to A$1 million. The current value of these units are perhaps now A$900,000 to A$2 million. About 70% of the buyers were Asian and the rest were Australian,” says Iwan.