- After 45 years at REIWA, CEO Neville Pozzi will retire in July 2022
- Instrumental in the development and growth of reiwa.com, and other tech moves
- He believes the human interaction in real estate will never be replaced
Probably more than anyone else, Mr Pozzi has been responsible for REIWA being one of the most successful Institutes in the country, in terms of its financial clout, membership (over 95% of sales in the state are made by REIWA members) and influence.
Same, but different
He has seen a lot over the past four or five decades, but he says, real estate has essentially remained the same.
“Listing and negotiation are still pretty much as they have always been,” he told The Property Tribune. “It’s just that nowadays the agents have all these tools at their disposal.”
In 1977, Mr Pozzi joined REIWA as an accountant. It was his second job, and he has been there ever since.
“The first member I met was Les Wearne – the Institute’s Treasurer at the time – and he’s still alive today, aged 102,” said Mr Pozzi.
Back then, listings were ‘multi-listed’, a system that had been introduced in 1956. This meant that a seller did not list with an exclusive real estate agent, as now, and any agent could sell the property to any buyer.
“In 1992, I remember buying 4,000 second-hand lockboxes and keys from the US, costing $300,000. Anyone could then gain entry to a property, and the system date and time-stamped all activity, on film for record-keeping purposes,” he said.
This was still pre-Internet, yet REIWA developed its own ‘Multi-Match’ system, using admin people manually entering all the listings, which agents could then plug into, to print out all the available properties for sale in their area.
By the mid-1990s, Mr Pozzi had risen to be Deputy Executive Director, in charge of all commercial services.
“In 1995 we got together with REINSW and REIQ to develop our own online property portal, realnet.com.au. To think, we could have bought the ‘realestate.com.au’ domain name back then, but we thought ‘Realnet’ was a good name,” he said.
The internet has rendered the biggest change on the industry, Mr Pozzi believes. Conjunctional sales disappeared, as buyers could go direct, often having as much information to hand as the agent.
“The internet has changed how the industry communicates with each other, and with clients.
“However, the agent is still required to explain what the data means, and interpret the information, and act as a broker. Agents can be objective, but sellers can’t be.”
As print advertising gave way to digital marketing in the first decade of the new century, so the power of REIWA’s own site grew. The other Institutes went off and did their own thing, leaving Mr Pozzi and a few other believers in the WA Institute to build a case for reiwa.com.
“In the early 2000s, we put a business case forward to Council, and they backed us,” said Mr Pozzi. “And up to 2006, we were the number one property website in the state.”
REA Group’s realestate.com.au, founded in 1997, did not put boots on the ground in WA until 2003, but once they bought their main rival property.com.au quickly became the dominant online property portal in the country.
While the Institute made advancements in online forms, with RealForm, and the First Place system bought in from the US, reiwa.com became a well known brand in its own right, boosted by the sponsorship of the successful Perth Scorchers T20 cricket franchise.
Mr Pozzi has been active in making bold tech moves over the past decade.
While CFO, in 2010, the Institute made its first acquisition of another company, aussiehome.com, a Perth-based real estate portal and web development business that had a large share of the western suburbs and high-end real estate market.
Since Mr Pozzi landed the top job as CEO in 2012, REIWA has invested in RESO (Real Estate Sales Online), the ASX-listed Proptech Group, Pie Labs (a proptech venture fund) as well as the recent backing of Realtime Conveyancer.
“We’re first and foremost a business, but importantly we’re also an advocacy group, a training body, and we provide research and other services,” said Mr Pozzi.
“Data will be key, so there could be opportunities in this space in the future. Technology has forced great change on the industry, so we have had to adapt as a tech business ourselves.
“However, despite all this technology, there will always be a human interaction in the property business. The job of the agent will be to add value to the transaction, and retain that important human element.”
The final word – and no doubt there will be many more said before Mr Pozzi retires next year – should go to the current President and VP of REIWA.
“Neville has been a champion of the real estate industry for almost his entire career and REIWA would not be the successful organisation today it is without his significant contribution,” REIWA President Damian Collins told The Property Tribune.
“Neville was one of the early supporters of reiwa.com and we are lucky to have our own portal in a competitive landscape.
“For many years prior to his term as CEO, Neville was Head of Finance and I certainly feel very fortunate to sit as President of an Institute that is the financially strongest in the country.
“Neville is retiring from the role of CEO in July 2022. He will finish up with great gratitude and thanks from the Council and our members, for his wonderful contribution to our industry and Institute.”
Damian Collins, REIWA President
Joe White, current Vice President of REIWA, has known Mr Pozzi for many years.
“Neville has been pivotal in REIWA’s evolution for 45 of its 100+ years in existence, but in that 45 years, 95% of the change has occurred and Neville has navigated all of it,” said Mr White.
“As impressive as Neville’s professional achievements are, they pale into insignificance when you appreciate, know and love Neville as those who have been privileged to know him do.
“He is a man of immense wisdom, strong but non-confrontationist, low profile but immensely respected amongst peers, a confidante to many and possessing a character absolutely above reproach.
“What I will miss the most is dropping into see Neville at lunchtime when he humbly sits at his desk eating his lunch which he bought from home, when he asks about how Wendy and the kids are doing, talks of his pride in his own family and always has time to make you feel as though you are the most important person in the world.”
No doubt, the entire real estate industry in WA will give Mr Pozzi a good send-off next year. What a servant he has been to the property sector. If they don’t name the current REIWA House (opened in 2012 just as he took over as CEO) the ‘Neville Pozzi House’, something is wrong.
Disclosure: the author worked at REIWA 2010-13 alongside Mr Pozzi, and used to be MD and co-founder of aussiehome.com.