Kathy MacDermott: Property research and relationships the key

Kathy MacDermott: Property research and relationships the key
Kathy MacDermott: Property research and relationships the key

Name: Kathy MacDermott
Company/organisation: Property Council of Australia
Position: Executive director, Queensland branch
City of residence: Brisbane
No. of years in the industry: 25 years

Kathy MacDermott has traded in a career as a property journalist for one executive director of the Queensland branch of the Property Council of Australia. She is currently lobbying for help for the Queensland market, which is recovering from the devastating floods in early 2011.

What sparked your initial interest in property?

I joined a public relations firm which specialised in property communications. It was the height of the late ’80s boom, and we were working on major projects from Cairns to the Gold Coast, across all sectors. It was interesting, rewarding, and I soon discovered what a dynamic sector property is.

 What was the first property you bought?

A post-war home in 1992

Are you a trader or holder of property?


So far, who or what has been your biggest influence in your life or career?

In my life, my husband, who has been the primary carer to our three children and ran our household for the past 14 years. Career wise, Queensland businesswoman Christine Lohman, who introduced me to the world of property and taught me the joy of work! She remains an important friend and mentor to me.

What are the ingredients you need to be successful in the property market?

 Research and relationships. You need to test out trends and statistics with trusted sources who have worked through a variety of cycles and operate in the market you are investing in.

You worked as a property journalist for 11 years before moving into communication roles and now your role at the Property Council – do you think the media provides fair commentary on the property market?

Absolutely. We are fortunate in Australia to have extensive, dedicated coverage of the property sector by specialist journalists.

What’s more interesting – writing about property or lobbying on behalf of the industry?

They both present extremely interesting opportunities. Writing about property was particularly fascinating because of the people you get to meet and interview, and I loved my 11 years in journalism. Now with the Property Council I have the opportunity – and privilege – to advocate on behalf of the industry in Queensland. Our sector is the largest employer and contributor to state revenue, so we play a critical role in the economic wellbeing of the community.

What is your reaction to the recent Queensland state budget? Is enough being done to assist the property market?

The state budget included a series of initiatives identified by the Property Council. We particularly welcome the stimulus to the new-home market and the creation of the Major Projects Office, which will help attract investment to the state. We continue to advocate for a cut in property taxes and charges – in particular the removal of the “temporary” 0.5% land tax surcharge introduced in December 2008.

Are you bullish or bearish about house prices in Queensland? Why?

The current market in Queensland reminds me of 1992 when I bought my first home. At this time price growth was slow, but it was a good time to enter the sector. If you buy with a medium- to long-term investment horizon, there are opportunities in all cycles.

If you had a $500,000 to invest right now, where would you invest it?

A unit in Brisbane’s West End to secure a foothold in this vibrant, inner-city suburb.

Was there ever a dud investment in your property portfolio? And why?

No, all sound.

What would be your advice to someone buying their first investment property?

Buy in a suburb you know well, as you have a good understanding of values as well as how long it is taking for properties to sell and rent. Take your time. Buy near public transport, shops and primary schools.

What are you reading at the moment?

Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey

What are you listening to at the moment?

 Bunny (my sister’s band)

Larry Schlesinger

Larry Schlesinger

Larry Schlesinger was a property writer at Property Observer


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