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 4: Luncheon vouchers and love
I walked into my first job three days after taking my final examination – no hanging about. And I badly needed those luncheon vouchers. I had to catch up with those who had been working while I was doing nothing (unless you count the 60 hours a week, or more, spent studying).
The job search revealed my financial madness. I went for central London private practice, which paid only 60% of what was offered by the People’s Republic of GLC, British (low-speed) Rail, and Constricted Valuers (as we used to call the District Valuers) or other government orifices. I reasoned that they wouldn’t give me all-round experience nor a share in their profits – if they ever made any. And I was not into a nine-to-five job to support other interests, like having a family and social life.
On a side note, those District Valuers (the England DV), the official government valuers, were renowned for their slow, localised and pedantic approach. The US government’s equivalent service, meanwhile, the AVSO or Appraisal and Valuation Services Office – was, we felt, more appropriately described in Pythonesque terms as ‘Appraisal and Valuations Silly Office’.
Pay now, less later – lifestyle options: People’s Republic of GLC; British Rail coming and gone; Betty’s government