Greville Pabst Executive Chairman at WBP Property Group & Property Expert  / 
Ivory Towers

story / Interview / December 11, 2016

Life is a fascinating journey of self-discovery. We start off in a career and work hard at it for years, doing the same thing over and over until one day we wake up and realise we’ve nothing left to learn in that area. It’s often a signal we’ve lost our passion and after a while we seek to recreate ourselves.

I’m a qualified property valuer and licensed real estate agent. I have thirty years’ experience as a valuer in Melbourne, in both residential and commercial property. In my career, I’ve transitioned from a procedural technician to an entrepreneur with big dreams and a passion for building a business and changing an industry.

Earlier this year I stepped down as CEO. I realised I didn’t have the skillset to run a large business with lots of systems and structure, and governance that’s required to grow my business to the next level. I didn’t feel passionate about board meetings and the like. I’m passionate about bringing in business and dealing with people, so I assumed a role as executive chairman and shifted focus to other areas of the business.

The third chapter of this journey is the media. I never would have imagined five years ago that I’d be doing this sort of work. I’ve got a talk-back spot on ABC radio mornings, and a regular commentator in the news and work with contestants on popular television program, The Block. That’s been really exciting. I started the journey on Channel 31, on a property show, where I could learn about myself and make mistakes.

My message is simple when it comes to property, make evidence-based decisions. I seek to educate people to make better decisions when they buy property. Everyday Australian’s are buying and selling property without any experience or advice, and they’re unaware that they are making some costly mistakes along the way. Unfortunately, I’m sometimes a lone voice. Property spruikers are selling all kinds of stock indiscriminately, stock that’s not going to increase in value…well, at least not any time soon.

The biggest advice I can give is to ‘seek advice’, the independent variety. Don’t listen solely to what the estate agent is telling you – they work for the vendor and are highly experienced professional negotiators.

The median house price in Melbourne is now over seven hundred thousand dollars. That’s a big investment – in fact, the biggest most people ever make in their lives. When you buy a car, you often have it looked over by a mechanic, or the RACV. When you buy shares, you speak to a broker. But, you spend seven hundred grand and you don’t get any independent advice? That’s irrational.

The thing about Australians is they have a love affair with property but living in a house or having the money to buy one does not make you an expert in property. Yet, it’s common to see a father bidding for a son or daughter at auction almost every weekend with little idea what he’s doing or what he’s helping his child to buy and the impact it will have on their financial future.

In the past, people would turn over their homes every eight to ten years. Now children are staying at home longer with their parents. We aren’t getting the churn. Why would your kids leave? And how can they afford to enter the market? Affordability is driving the market. The Bank of Mum and Dad often funds the deposit gap nowadays.

The most important thing is to be passionate and love what you do. If you’re not passionate about your job, don’t do it. Many people have a vocation and spend all this time studying, but their heart just isn’t in it. It doesn’t come naturally for everyone. The rewards are great if you’re prepared to work hard.

My eldest son is nineteen and he’s studying commerce and property. He works in the office on school holidays in the admin area of the business. He’s starting from the ground. He wants to sit in my chair, but I say ‘It’s not going to happen, you have to start here.’ A lot of young kids now want to be the boss straight out of high school. Schools don’t teach you how to run a business or how to make money. I encourage my kids to put down their iPhones and attend an auction with me. I ask them to predict the auction winning price. It gets them thinking. They get to learn.

As parents, we have a responsibility to teach our kids. We can’t simply rely on the classroom. Having a sound work ethic and respect starts in the home. I didn’t grow up in an ivory tower. I grew up in West Footscray, started with nothing and built something I am proud of. My message to kids today is to work hard, seek out mentors and associate with successful people.

My Dad grew up in the Depression. At seven years old, he was selling newspapers at Flinders Street Station. That generation was independent and we were more independent than today’s generation. At twenty-five, kids are still living at home. We drive them everywhere. We worry about stranger danger. Whereas we used to walk everywhere and were out at all hours, but would always be home before dinner to eat with the family.

I urge my kids to find their passion and to pursue their own dreams. My youngest son, wants to play professional tennis and I’ll do everything I can to help him fulfil that goal. He wants to go to college in the US and see if he can have a go. I was a promising junior and I didn’t make it. If he goes on and does it, he’d be living my dream. If not, we have both built a great father and son bond through sport. To find a connection with your children in this fast moving world is more difficult than it sounds.

 

After a little hiatus (whilst one of the Gazella girls got married), we’re back with our final interview for the year. We interviewed Greville in Collingwood a little while ago, in the office of Arize Communications. Greville has an absolute wealth of knowledge about the Melbourne Property Market. He is passionate about informing people about property and investment and has a keen interest in educating everyone from the first home-buyer to the most avid investor. He was very warm and open in discussing his family and his life. Greville sees opportunity in the property sector and is very encouraging of anyone who wishes to enter the industry. We very much enjoyed meeting Greville and wish him all the best in 2017.

 

And we will be back very shortly with an exciting line-up of interviews with women in the new year!

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