Confessions of a valuer – a life in property: chapter 1 – The Property Chronicle
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Confessions of a valuer – a life in property: chapter 1

Investor's Notebook

In this very special series of exclusive articles for the Property Chronicle, Australian property legend Norman Harker will reflect on his extraordinary 50-year life in real estate. He will pull no punches partly because, as he freely admits, Norman has a limited life expectancy of five years from December 2018 due to a diagnosed terminal blood cancer, which he has cheerfully accepted in preference to (in his words) “kicking the bucket without notice”. We are honoured he has chosen us to publish these brilliant, funny and incisive reflections of a lifetime in property.

Chapter 1: A valuer aged seven – early signs of a calling

At the age of seven it was already too late – I had started on the downhill path to becoming a valuer. For Christmas I was given a Monopoly set.

My parents had four boys in 1941, 1943, 1945 and me in 1947. Later they evened things up and my sister arrived in 1952. I was born in February. That made me a Pisces and born in the Chinese Year of the Pig – very similar traits, apparently, for those who believe that fish and pork chops go together.

Being the youngest and with a brother just 17 months older, I was intensely competitive. This game fascinated me. It was not just luck, like snakes and ladders. You had to make decisions as well. If you made the best decisions, you usually won.

Which properties gave the best returns? The second set on each side was best because developing cost the same but rents were higher. Mayfair and Park Lane looked best. But they took all your starting cash just to get one house, and rents did not really get serious until two or three houses. Euston, Angel and Pentonville were high-return but first throws of the game made it likely the set would be split two or three ways.

Investor's Notebook

About Norman Harker

Norman Harker

Norman Harker FRICS FAPI, the Principal of Sydney-based consultant Norman Harker & Associates, is a specialist Excel property consultant, with expertise in developing, validating, and securing the robustness of Excel DCF and CF analyses for analysing transactions, valuations, investment analysis and feasibility studies. He was an elected New South Wales divisional board member of the Australian Property Institute in 2013-2015 and for many years was a senior lecturer at the University of Western Sydney, where he specialised in developing applications for the use of practising valuers; before that he lectured at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland. He began his career at Conrad Ritblat & Co in London, where he rose from trainee valuer to associate partner. He was diagnosed with incurable multiple myeloma in 2018 and given a life expectancy of five years, and also suffers from an incurable and often inappropriate sense of humour.

Articles by Norman Harker

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