Real Estate Institute of Victoria Chief Executive Officer Quentin Kilian and Co-founder and former Executive Director of Charter Hall Cedric Fuchs have been named in the King’s Birthday Honours List, receiving a Medal of the Order (OAM) of Australia for their service to the real estate industry.
Mr Kilian also served as the CEO for the Real Estate Institute of the Northern Territory for 12 years, between August 2009 and February 2022, before taking the top job at the REIV.
He said he was humbled to receive the honour, which he said was largely for his work in the real estate industry in the Northern Territory, given he has only been at the REIV for a short time.
“It was extremely unexpected and I’m not sure I’m deserving of such an honour given the amazing people that we have in our community,” Mr Kilian said.
“I’ve been honoured for doing something that I actually love, rather than some of the amazing things that other people do.”
“But I guess there were people in the Territory that thought I’d done something worthy of putting me forward as a nomination.
“I humbly accept it and I’m grateful for them putting me forward.”
Over the years, Mr Kilian has worked in a number of different industries, including radio and television, the satellite industry and government.
For many years he worked in various parts of Asia, and immediately prior to taking up the CEO role at the REINT, Mr Kilian worked for the NT Government as a director of Asian Relations and International Trade and International Business Development.
Mr Kilian said he loved the “dynamism” of the real estate sector.
“I love the dynamics of the real estate industry and how it’s continually changing and evolving,” he said.
“The one thing that has always struck me is that property touches every single person in the world, every single day of their lives.
“Whether they’re renting, buying, selling or looking for somewhere to sleep, the property industry touches every single person.”
Mr Kilian said he also loved that as the CEO of two real estate institutes he was connected to the “cut and thrust of politics without being in politics”.
“Putting together arguments, presenting arguments and making those continual challenges until we finally get an outcome, that drives me,” he said.
Mr Kilian said one of the outcomes he was most pleased about achieving was restructuring the REINT, growing its membership and making it a “vibrant” institute.
“One of the hardest things in any association is making it stand out so that the government notices it and so that the media notices it,” he said.
“That’s what you need and I was very proud of what I achieved with that.
“I was equally proud that, albeit I lost the battle in the end, on an advocacy front that I blocked really stupid pet legislation coming into the Territory for almost a year by raising a petition with almost 8000 signatures on it.”
Mr Kilian said he was also proud of the success achieved in successfully lobbying for the introduction of the most comprehensive First Home Buyer initiatives in the NT through the removal of stamp duty.
He said he implored both the Liberal and Labor parties to remove stamp duty rather than offering first home buyer bonuses as they would push prices up.
When Labor won the election they removed stamp duty for first home buyers.
“The result was, we injected 170 first home buyers, in the first year, back into the Territory economy,” Mr Kilian said.
“On Melbourne and Sydney numbers, that sounds very small, but when you’re looking at a population the size of NT, 170 in your first year is quite a jump in first home buyer ownership.”
In Victoria, which he described as the “brass ring” of real estate, Mr Kilian said there were a number of challenges the REIV was tackling, not least of which was the recently announced changes to land tax.
“It’s truly nonsensical,” he said.
“It is already impacting on rental providers, or landlords, either getting out or looking to get out of the marketplace.”
Mr Kilian said the Residential Tenancies Act also needed reviewing, with many of the introduced 130 changes not working.
“We are discussing that with the government,” he said.
“Whether we get the changes we’re after, we don’t know yet, but there’s a number of things that need to be looked at.”
One of those things the REIV would like to see is the introduction of an interim certificate or “L-Plate system” that would allow property managers to complete their education at the same time as working in the industry under the supervision of fully trained property managers.
“Victoria, for whatever reason, is the only jurisdiction in Australia where you have to fully complete your education before you can start work,” he said.
“What we want to do is change that so that we can backfill the 1400 empty property management jobs that we’ve got.”
Mr Fuchs co-founded property investment and funds management company Charter Hall in 1991 with David Southon and Andre Biet and remained its executive director until 2018.
He has been the strategic advisor of Aliro Group, which Mr Southon is the executive director of, since 2018 and in 2020 he co-founded eGuarantee with Shaun Sergay.
eGuarantee provides surety bonds in the commercial real estate sector.
Mr Fuchs said he was not expecting the OAM honour at all.
“I don’t think that anybody can expect an award,” he said.
“The reason for that is, it would be, in a way, a touch of arrogance to expect to get awards.
“I think what you do for other people or society is, when you’ve been lucky enough in life to get the opportunities that I’ve had, I find it incumbent on me to give back to the country I live in. Particularly to people who are less fortunate than me.”
Mr Fuchs was also honoured for his service to philanthropy where he has been a supporter of organisations including the Sir Isaac Zelman Foundation, United Israel Appeal, the Royal Flying Doctor Service, Courage to Care and Vision Australia.
But he said it was his work as a mentor that is one of the things he is most proud of and over the past 25 years he had mentored about 20 different people of varying ages.
He said he had also used his vast network to help those migrating to Australia to find work and he also supports the Raise project.
“I spend a lot of time assisting them,” Mr Fuchs said.
“They do mentoring of young people in schools from Year 8 upwards and that’s something I’ve been very attached to because I had a breakdown at the age of 27 and I know the journey I had to go through to get out of that.
“So Raise is very dear to my heart and I spend a lot of time trying to raise money for that organisation so we can mentor more people and can take on mentees and repair people who have drug problems, anxiety, depression and even suicide ideation.”
In a business sense, Mr Fuchs said the fact Charter Hall was still standing at the end of “the 1991 depression” was among his highlights.
“When we started Charter Hall we were four people,” he said.
“We were in a depression in 1991, a depression, not a property recession, a depression.
“Grosvenor Place in 1989 was the most iconic building in Sydney. If my memory serves me correctly, it was 80,000sq m. The biggest and it was valued at $1.05 billion.
“At the end of the depression, vacancies in Sydney were 19 per cent, in Melbourne they were 23 per cent and in Perth they were 27 per cent.
“People were doing five-year leases with a five-year rent freeze. In 1991-1992 that building (Grosvenor Place) was valued at its low of about $460 million.”
Mr Fuchs said another highlight, probably the most transformative of his career, was when Charter Hall, which had about $3 billion under assets at the time, took over the property sector of Macquarie Bank.
“They sold to us and we took over $7.5 billion of their assets under management, which gave us a total of $10 billion,” he said.
“And did I believe it was possible to do? No. When we started in business all we wanted to do was survive.
“We had no wildest dreams that this could happen at all. It happened because we put our heads down and kept plugging away, like a tortoise does, looking patiently for things to do and there was lots of luck along the way.”