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Why this senior real estate figure won’t buy his own home

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Most people are surprised to learn that the boss of a powerful real estate industry group doesn’t own his own home, but instead rents it.

When Quentin Kilian made the revelation during a recent speech at a property forum, there were more than a few shocked murmurs throughout the room.

And the reason the Real Estate Institute of Victoria chief executive isn’t interested in purchasing a pile of bricks in Melbourne is one many would-be buyers can appreciate.

Real estate bigwig Quentin Kilian doesn’t own his own home – and there’s a six-figure reason why.

“My wife and I are at the age where we don’t necessarily have to own a house,” Mr Kilian told

“We looked at buying a home here in an area we’d like to live in, and it would set us back somewhere in the high one-million to early-twos range. Now, we can afford that, absolutely, but then we’d have to cough up $80,000 to $100,000 in stamp duty.

“I just find that obscene. I truly do – I’m not going to give the government up to six figures for nothing.”

Stamp duty is a major barrier to homeownership for many Australians, from first-home buyers who have to cough up an extra amount on top of a hefty deposit, through to upgraders and downsizers.

“Stamp duty is a massive stymie on mobility,” he said.

“Take people in my age bracket whose kids have grown up and moved out. They don’t need a huge family home anymore and want something more comfortable that’s lower maintenance, so they look at downsizing.

“But then after selling, they’ve got to buy another placed and cough up $50,000 or $60,000 in stamp duty, for nothing. Why would they bother? Who wants to do that? So, they stay put.”

That reduced mobility within the market means the historical “life cycle” of properties becomes less common, he pointed out.

“It used to be that you’d buy your first home which is small and within your low budget, then you upgrade when you have kids, then perhaps again later to live in your dream home, then you downsize later in life. 

That’s a natural cycle of a home and it aids supply in the market. We make the best use of the dwellings that exist. But we’ve stopped doing that and stamp duty is the culprit.”

High costs reduce market mobility and hurt housing supply. Picture: Getty

Mr Kilian also made the point that there’s nothing wrong with renting, even for someone with a prominent position within the real estate industry.

“We need to destigmatise the concept of renting. Many people say, ‘Oh, you’re a renter’ and I find that bizarre.

“There are a cohort within the community who’d love to buy but have no choice but to rent, and I sympathise with them. We should support those people to get into their own home via reduced taxation, which will help.

“But there’s also a large cohort of people in the community, whether it’s those my age, or people who are just more mobile, or those who simply don’t want to spend the money on buying. They choose to rent. What’s wrong with that?”

Stamp duty makes downsizing an expensive and unattractive prospect. Picture: Getty

Ahead of the Victorian state election, the REIV has produced a four-point platform for major reform of the real estate sector.

One of the main priority areas is a review of taxation, with a view to replacing stamp duty with a more competitive land tax regime. Instead of a huge upfront cost, buyers would pay a small annual fee.

New South Wales has adopted that model for first-home buyers, with proposed legislation currently under review.

The remaining platforms are for urgent changes to industry government issues surrounding regulation and red tape, the training and retention of real estate professionals, and a review of the Residential Tenancies Act.

“There are numerous issues with it and instances where it doesn’t line up or where it contradicts itself, and where it’s just generally imbalanced,” he said.

Changes to the Act implemented 12 months ago have been a “disaster” and the government needs to urgently sit down with all stakeholders to “start again”, he said.

“What we all want is a prosperous Victorian real estate industry because when it prospers, it creates opportunity for investors to come in, which then creates stock, which then brings rent prices down.”

The rent crunch is hurting tenants in Victoria – and across the country. Picture: Getty

It’s not about stripping back rights for tenants, Mr Kilian said, but finding a balance where everyone is happy and the supply of housing is supported.

In Australia, 80% of landlords are ‘mum and dad’ investors in an income bracket of between $80,000 and $90,000 who own a single investment property.

“They’re not wealthy,” Mr Kilian said. “In fact, less than 5% of the rental market in Australia is owned by large investors or capital firms. So, the bulk of ownership is made up of modest investors with one property.

“We should be encouraging that investment into the market as much as possible because those landlords provide almost all of the rental properties available. That’s where the housing stock comes from.”

New South Wales wants to give first-time buyers the choice to pay land tax instead of a huge stamp duty lump sum. Picture: Getty

Mr Kilian believes onerous regulations, high taxation, and other government-created disincentives are the cause of the current rental crunch affecting most parts of the country.

At a recent Melbourne Press Club event, REA Group chief executive Owen Wilson – publisher of – revealed that more than a quarter of property sales in the past 12 months were by investors, but just 9.5% of purchases were by other landlords.

“That’s a huge number of investors leaving the market,” Mr Kilian said. “And look at what’s happened to rental prices due to that slump in supply. It’s catastrophic.”

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