REIWA leadership team speaks exclusively with The Property Tribune. Left to right: Cath Hart, Joe White. Image: REIWA.
  • Cybersecurity, and a changing economic landscape are among the challenges
  • The local market has been resilient to interest rate hikes, so far
  • The 2023 Federal and State Budgets are also analysed

The Real Estate Institute of West Australia (REIWA) underwent two changings of the guard across 2022, with Cath Hart taking over from Neville Pozzi as the CEO in May, and Joe White rising to President in October, following two years as Deputy President.

Pozzi’s retirement followed 45 years of service at REIWA, with the latter 10 as CEO. Damian Collins was the immediate past president, having served four years as President.

Another change was ushered in, with the official REIWA spokesperson now CEO, Cath Hart, previously a role undertaken by the President.

From tyranny of distance to advantage

White shared with us his experience as President thus far, recalling seven months of addressing some of the challenges the market has faced.

“Given housing is the nation’s biggest domestic issue of the decade, the appointment of Cath Hart, arguably the best lobbyist in the State, was incredibly propitious,” said White.

“Working with Cath has been an honour and a pleasure. The tyranny of distance has actually turned out to be an advantage, as I have been able to mirror in the regions the same media message Cath has propagated in the metropolitan area.”

The issues White and Hart have been addressing include:

  • Stimulating housing supply,
  • Stimulating housing diversity, and
  • Ensuring effort is not wasted by seeing a corresponding drop in rental property retention.

It has been a 40 year journey to the current housing crisis, said White, with the Institute putting a laser sharp focus on ensuring everyone has a roof over their head, and more private rentals in the system; the latter ensures an improved focus on helping the vulnerable with suitable, well located, quality state-owned housing.

Joe White. Image: REIWA.

“The appointment of a CEO with such outstanding policy credentials has lifted the burden of the President running the media, which has been a massive bonus,” said White

“In my view, strategy has always been the REIWA President’s primary function, and with the talent and enthusiasm of a vibrant group of fellow Councilors, I am absolutely confident the stage is set for REIWA to have a vital role in both managing the framework for property leasing and transfer within WA, but more importantly constantly improving the housing supply framework so that home ownership can be a  reality for as many people as possible.

“Whilst not a singular focus, it is most definitely a dominating one and to that end working with the quality team at REIWA has been an utterly humbling experience,” concluded White.

Delivering results in turbulent times

REIWA CEO, Cath Hart, spoke exclusively to The Property Tribune, sharing insights into her first twelve months as CEO.

Describing the period as both wonderful and a whirlwind, Hart has been busy getting to know REIWA’s members, understanding the challenges they face, and learning about the housing issues Western Australians are facing.

cath hart
Cath Hart. Image: Supplied, Canva.

As Hart stepped into the CEO role, the world was marching towards a new normal, following the Covid pandemic. The period was punctuated by several more world-altering events, from global conflict to bank crises. Locally, inflation and interest rates rose in ways that unnerved many.

During these first 12 months, REIWA also relaunched, which has their members and the public a valuable source to obtain local knowledge about the Western Australian property market.

“We have received wonderful feedback from our members and the public,” Hart said.

Cybersecurity was also high on the agenda, particularly in light of the major breaches seen across telecommunications, health insurance, and banking.

“We have been fortunate enough to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Edith Cowan University (ECU) and their National Centre for Cyber Security Excellence, and so we have a very sucessful forum around cyber security, and we will continue to support our members in that space.”

Cath Hart, REIWA CEO

Hart also expressed her delight and made ovations over the expansion and enhancement of the Tenancy Training Program.

The program helps vulnerable Western Australians and educates them on how the private rental market operates. It also provides information on what their rights and obligations are and what support there is for them out there.

“We have partnered with the Salvation Army and other organisations over the year to assist us with this program,” Hart explained.

Hart was recently appointed to the Government’s Homelessness Advisory Group. She explained she was humbled to be invited by Minister John Carey, and explained how important it is for REIWA to be involved with the group and to help the most vulnerable West Australians.

“We have had our first meeting of that group, and I see our role to ensure we highlight how the private market can assist with ensuring we get more houses built and available for lease in today’s market,” Hart shared.

REIWA’s response to the Federal and State Budgets

The budgets have been met with optimism, as they offer a suite of measures to address a gamut of issues from tax relief to boosting the construction workforce and more.

“The importance of any budget is to see initiatives or allowance in those budgets that encourage the supply of housing in West Australia,” Ms Hart responded.

“We were pleased to see several initiatives in both budgets that will help Australians build property.”

Hart also welcomed new legislation providing a 50% land tax exemption over 20 years for eligible build-to-rent projects.

She was also pleased to see initiatives to assist apprentices in the construction sector and immigration for skilled workers in WA in this industry, which are significant measures within this space. Another essential point Hart mentioned was the intention to invest more than half a billion dollars towards homelessness.

Hart described the West Australian market as resilient. REIWA is optimistic about the market developments within our State for the remainder of the year based on these budgets and the market reactions during the last 11 interest rate rises.

Plans for the future and market predictions.

The Institute is aiming to make a splash, with Hart telling The Property Tribune:

“We are going to focus on emphasising and enhancing our advocacy efforts, and we are aiming to be one of the most impactful associations in the state.” 

REIWA will also focus on their community engagement, continue pushing on the tenancy training program, and educate the public that is an excellent source for them to gain essential information about the Western Australian housing market.

Hart said she is unsure whether the interest rate rises will continue to rise or if we will see some breaks, given the lack of consensus between economists.

However, Hart described the Western Australian market as resilient to interest rate rises, with factors such as low supply, high demand, and population growth, likely to continue driving the market in the short term, which will continue to result in an uplifting pressure on property and rental prices.


Final words

Hart advises renters, buyers, investors and sellers in WA to partner with a local professional. The Western Australian market is typically countercyclical to the eastern seaboard, making it a challenge to base decisions on national real estate updates.

Finally, she invited investors to turn to Western Australian dwellings.

“Investors, we need more of you,” she said. Knowing that Western Australia remains one of the most affordable states to invest in, Hart is optimistic that some investors from the Eastern states will include our State when deciding where to invest their money next.

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