Supporting Victorian real estate since 1936, the Real Estate Institute of Victoria (REIV) is a member-based organisation that real estate professionals rely on and consumers trust, giving members access to a wide range of the services, information and resources needed to provide the Victorian community with the best possible real estate service.
For the past five years the organisation has been run by CEO Gil King, who announced his retirement from the role in December 2021, and is currently looking for board opportunities moving forward. He is a former Executive Director at the Housing Industry Association and Secretary-General of the International Real Estate Federation (FIABCI), and is currently an Australia Member of the International Economics Development Research Center (IEDRC). Mr King spoke to us recently to look back over his five years in charge of the REIV, discuss some of the issues that have affected the real estate industry during that time, and reflect upon what the future might hold for the organisation.
“We’re a member-based organisation that supports real estate agents and property professionals like owners corporation managers, valuers, auctioneers, property managers, across a broad range of people who require licensing and regulation to perform duties under the Estate Agents Act and other relative legislation,” Mr King explains.
After spending nearly 12 years working for the government regulator in the building industry, Mr King moved onto the other side of the property sector with the Housing Industry Association (HIA), the official body of Australia’s home building industry.
“After about 8 years there I got approached to consider the role at the Real Estate Institute of Victoria, probably because of my advocacy work at HIA, but also to see some change brought to the REIV, and I was successful in getting that gig about 5 years ago.”
At the time Mr King began his role as CEO, the organisation was in desperate need of repair, with a number of significant issues impacting its financial position. The organisation had been running at a substantial loss for a several years.
“We’ve been able to turn that around to quite a reasonable profit in the last couple of years, the biggest one being this year. It’s been very difficult obviously with COVID-19, but we’ve been able to have a combined profit for the last two years. So that was important.”
There were a number of systemic issues that needed to be addressed when Mr King began his tenure, which was always expected to be five years long, his remit being to get the organisation onto an even footing so a new CEO could step in and move REIV forward.
“In terms of advocacy, my very first meeting with government when I arrived just under five years ago was in relation to the Residential Tenancies Act. That was reform that came into Victoria on 29th March 2021, and was quite an involved process. So really for probably four years there’s been the process of getting that legislation introduced.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has created significant issues over the last two years, with the whole real estate industry being forced to shut down completely on more than one occasion. REIV has worked hard to convince the government that the industry is safe to operate in pandemic conditions.
“In terms of contact tracing – real estate agents have been contact tracing for decades, not just during COVID-19, because it’s all about growing their contact base, so every time someone goes in to do an inspection you hand your name and your mobile number over. That was pretty much front of mind of agents right from the beginning.”
One of the main challenges faced as a result of the pandemic was the move into a more hybrid style of doing business, with a mixture of in-person and online auctions, inspections and other events becoming far more commonplace.
“The ever-changing restrictions, and the difference between metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria, was extremely difficult, because there were different rules, sometimes not just for metro/regional, but for different postcodes and different local government areas. It really was quite challenging.”
New restrictions would typically come out at midnight on a Thursday, probably the worst possible time for the industry to adjust to, as property had already been set up for inspection and sale on the coming weekend.
“Those restrictions were very difficult to interpret,” Mr King says. “It’s very hard for government to write directions that cover every aspect of business in Victoria, we understand that, but it did lead to a lot of confusion.”
As Mr King steps away from the organisation and begins his retirement in earnest, it falls to his successor to carry the baton and continue the important work that has been done in improving the REIV.
“Fortunately, the person who will be replacing me has my current role in the Northern Territory, so he’s familiar with real estate. There’ll be a gap between the two of us, but I have known this person for the whole of my five years at REIV so he’s very familiar with some of the issues that we’ve faced, and I’ll be ensuring that there’s a smooth transition.”
Mr King concludes our conversation by explaining what it has meant to him to end his career in this role: “I think of the young fellow way back in the early days at Noble Park in Victoria, and to end up being the CEO of REIV is a great honour. I’ve really enjoyed it and I thank everyone for the experience.”
With a mission to enhance the professional excellence of its members to the benefit of the communities they work within, the REIV continues to be a great advocate for those members. Find out more about Real Estate Institute of Victoria by visiting https://reiv.com.au/.