Confessions of a valuer, chapter 2: Yearning for a moustache – The Property Chronicle
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Confessions of a valuer, chapter 2: Yearning for a moustache

The Guest Essay

In this very special series of exclusive articles for the Property Chronicle, Australian property legend Norman Harker reflects 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 2: The pre-pubescent valuer – yearning for a moustache

Despite popular demand, I’ll continue from last week and won’t (as a certain presidential contender might put it) “shut up”.

Psychiatrists and psychologists agree that people are the product of their background. Background formed the character of Caligula as the mad emperor, Adolph Hitler as an even madder dictator, and me as a valuer. 

Three products of their times and backgrounds

Left to right: Roman Emperor Caligula, dictator Adolf Hitler, valuation expert Norman Harker

People would often exclaim to me, when I would be, for instance, taking a legalistic view on the requirements of a valuation report, “Your father must have been a solicitor!” Almost true. He came from a working-class family that could not pay for ‘articles’ and so became a ‘managing clerk’. He drew up wills and did all the conveyancing for a small law firm, while a solicitor just signed the deeds.

A forward-looking investor in 1945, he saw that housing losses and troops coming home would cause property prices to rise. He bought up seven tenanted houses using his savings and mortgaging. But when did he get his monopoly set, I wonder?  

The Guest Essay

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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