Leanne Pilkington named president of REIA

A powerhouse trio of female real estate experts will lead the Real Estate Institute of Australia (REIA) into 2024, with Leanne Pilkington being named president and Hannah Gill taking on the deputy president role. 

The pair join chief executive officer Anna Neelagama in the leadership team, which is the first time in the institute’s history the top three positions have been simultaneously held by women.

Ms Pilkington, who is the CEO and director of Laing+Simmons and who was elected deputy president of the REIA in 2021, said she was “absolutely thrilled” at her appointment as president.

“I am really grateful for the level of support that I have both from the CEO and the other directors around the REIA board table,” she said.

“It is truly exciting to lead a historic all-female leadership team as we approach REIA’s centennial year in 2024.”

Ms Pilkington said there were numerous issues the REIA wanted to tackle over the coming 12 months, not least of which is the housing and rental crisis.

“The housing crisis is absolutely going to be on the agenda, and we just need to look at a solution,” she said.

“Everybody has been talking about the problem, but the solution seems to come in bits and pieces.

“It needs to be more of a holistic plan but that’s a very big piece of work.

“So we need to get some clarity on how we can actually make a difference in that space.”

Ms Pilkington also extended gratitude to outgoing REIA president Hayden Groves for his invaluable contributions to the industry and his crucial role in strengthening the institute’s advocacy and government relations.

She said she was keen to continue to bolster those relationships so the real estate sector had a real say in issues that affected not just agents but consumers too.

“We need to maintain the relationships that we have at the Federal Government level,” Ms Pilkington said.

“We’ve got an election, would you believe, which won’t be that far away, it could be the end of next year or the beginning of the year after.

“So we need to make sure we’re really well connected into government in case there’s some crazy ideas that come, as they do during an election cycle.”

Ms Pilkington said the institute would also be advocating for the industry with changes to the anti-money laundering regime.

“We need to make sure we are closely advising the government as to the way we can handle those things,” she said.

“We don’t want to get caught, like they did in New Zealand, with really extensive admin requirements for agents.

“We need to avoid that.”

Ms Pilkington has more than 40 years’ experience in real estate, covering the full spectrum of real estate services, including sales, property management, retail, commercial leasing and management, as well as property development.

She is also the immediate past president of the Real Estate Institute of NSW, a director of REI Super and launched the Real Women in Real Estate Network.

Incoming deputy president Hannah Gill, who is the director of property management at The Property Collective and the current president of the Real Estate Institute of the ACT, said she’d only been on the REIA Board a short time and was honoured to be named deputy president.

“I’m also really proud that we’ve got the first all female CEO, president and deputy president,” she said.

“If you look at the challenges we face as an industry, it’s not getting any easier, it’s getting harder.

“I think the work the REIA does, and each of the institutes do, is going to become increasingly critical.”

Hannah Gill

Ms Gill said the housing crisis, the cost of living and affordable housing were all high on her list of issues to tackle.

“I think when we look at the challenges our consumers have faced in the past year, the cost of living and interest rates, it’s increasingly challenging for people,” she said.

“And housing plays a fundamental part of that.

“I’m really passionate about housing affordability, particularly from a rental lens, because I see that as an issue, supply and affordability, from the coal face every day.

“If I can contribute positively to finding solutions or being part of a solution for easing the issues of supply and affordability, then I would feel like I’ve done well in my role.”

Ms Pilkington also acknowledged the departing board member, Damian Collins from Western Australia, for his dedicated service. 

Richard Simpson has been appointed as finance, risk and audit committee chair, Damian Collins will be succeeded by Joe White (Western Australia), and Pete Matthews will step into the NSW directorship. 

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Kylie Dulhunty

Kylie Dulhunty is the Editor at Elite Agent.