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Damian Collins ends REIWA presidential term proud of the industry’s achievements

Damian Collins’ four-year term as Real Estate Institute of Western Australia (REIWA) president will come to an end on October 13.

Speaking after making the announcement today, Mr Collins said it had been a privilege to represent the institute and its members and there had been numerous highlights, not least of which was the turnaround of the Perth market.

“When I became president in October 2018, it (the WA market) was still a fair way into a significant downturn – the longest and deepest downturn we’ve ever seen,” Mr Collins recalled.

“Confidence in the property market was bad, and everyone thought, ‘Why would I buy when it will be cheaper next week, next month or next year’.

“It was a pretty bad market and members were hurting.”

Mr Collins stressed he wasn’t claiming to be behind the market turning, but he was excited it had.

He put the turnaround down to increased interstate investment, the relative affordability of the Perth market compared to Sydney and Melbourne and a change in the supply and demand equation.

“It had been down for so long and Perth had a lot of net outflow of migrants to other states, so there were just simply not enough people to fill the houses,” Mr Collins said.

“We had built too many houses in 2013, 2014 and 2015, in particular. But then it fundamentally got to the point where the supply and demand balance changed.

“People looked at Perth compared to Sydney and Melbourne and thought, ‘This is just ridiculous, it’s so cheap’, so we started to see a bit of interstate investment come back.

“Locals then started to decide that it was the right time (to buy) and the stock for sale and rent started to decline, so that fuelled it as well.”

Mr Collins said now vacancy rates were almost at their lowest ever and the stock for sale was at about 8000 properties.

“We normally think a balanced market is about 13,000 properties for sale, so it’s certainly a seller’s market,” he said.

“I think, despite the interest rate rises, and a few monthly bumps in property values, I’m pretty confident the next couple of years will see some healthy growth in the Perth market, just because it is so much cheaper than all the other eastern states’ capital cities.”

Mr Collins said another highlight was how the real estate industry as a whole handled the COVID-19 pandemic and how members worked together to ensure people could buy, sell and rent property.

He said when COVID hit the REIWA board quickly decided to suspend members’ fees for six months, and feedback from members was that they felt supported and that it had given them a boost.

“Coming into COVID everyone feared the worst, and we worked closely with the government to ensure that we could still trade and rent, buy and sell housing,” Mr Collins said.

“I was glad we got through COVID relatively unscathed in Western Australia and members were able to continue on in their business.”

Mr Collins said he was also pleased to be leaving REIWA in a solid financial position, and one that had allowed the institute to pursue technology investment.

He said REIWA had invested in operating platform Vault Real Estate as well as Honey Insurance.

“It’s a product that will eventually allow our members to offer tenants and owners home insurance through our platform and generate additional income,” Mr Collins said.

Going forward, Mr Collins said he’d remain on the REIWA board for another year and he was also still on the Real Estate Institute of Australia board.

“I also have my own businesses to get back to,” he said.

“I have a team of about 70 people. I’ve got Momentum Wealth and Westbridge Funds Management, and I look forward to spending more time in those businesses and also enjoying life a bit more.”

The 2022-23 REIWA Council will meet on October 13 to elect a new REIWA president.

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Kylie Dulhunty

Kylie Dulhunty is the Editor at Elite Agent.