History of the Pacific Rim Real Estate Society

The History of the Pacific Rim Real Estate Society**

Associate Professor Maurice Squirrel (Retired), Historian, PRRES

The Pacific Rim Real Estate Society (PRRES) emerged as a natural progression from lower forms in 1994.  Its living origins started in the late 1960's and non-organisation forms in Australia can be traced back to the 1920's. What follows are the fading memories of an Australian - hence the bias - who was there in the 1960's.

1920 - 1974

Recorded history suggests that Australian academic education in valuation started in 1920 in a South Australian Government Valuation Department and that the Commonwealth Institute of Valuers (CIV) - now the Australian Property Institute (API) after a number of name changes - held its inaugural meeting, also in Adelaide, in 1926.

The CIV over the next forty years, developed part-time valuation courses in all State Divisions, provided part-time lecturing, developed comprehensive correspondence notes and in 1949 published the first substantial textbook "Principles and Practice of Valuation", by the late Dr. J.F.N. Murray.

These courses, progressing from two years part-time to four years part-time at TAFE level and the successive editions of "Dr Murray's text" prevailed into the 1960's. During the later part of this decade the CIV started to hand over the courses to the State technical school system though its members provided all of the part-time valuation lecturers. During this period the CIV produced a number of excellent textbooks in the supporting subject areas including Law, Surveying and Rural Economics, all "for valuers".  In 1971, the second substantial professional text, "Land Valuation and Compensation in Australia" by R.D.  Rost and H.D. Collins, was published by the CIV.

1974 - 1990

The first meeting of "Valuation" lecturers was held at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) in April 1974. Since 1968 full-time lecturers had been progressively appointed to the now State conducted valuation programs and most courses were now conducted at tertiary diploma level in the newly formed Advanced Colleges of Education. This meeting was convened to compare courses and their development and to liase with the CIV General Council which also met in Melbourne at that time.

It was decided to form the group into the Australian Conference of Valuation Lecturers and this body met formally the next year at the South Australian Institute of Technology (SAIT). Seven topics were considered and major issues included: course level and accreditation, research projects, exchange of teaching materials and staff, course content and future professional requirements, balance between 'theory and practice, text book needs, short courses and other real estate areas for study.

This group continued to meet each year at a State college determined by the location of the CIV annual meeting. This enabled the direct liaison with the professional body to continue, provided some mutual support pressures to Heads of School and Deans and also provided the opportunity to attend and participate in professional seminars being run by the CIV State Divisions hosting the General Council meetings.

In 1978 the group was prevailed upon to also visit Auckland later that year.  It had earlier welcomed representatives from New Zealand and changed its name to the Conference of Australasian Lecturers in Valuation. It was at this Auckland meeting that academic presentations to the group of lecturers commenced. By now the group included valuation graduates from the University of Reading masters program in the UK as well as graduates from other related disciplines. The former emphasis at these meetings on the administrative and political issues of course development was now being replaced by academic developments. Topics included mortgage-equity (Ellwood), statistical opportunities in rating valuation and the emerging tension between 'traditional' and 'new trends' in valuation theory and techniques, The minutes from the 7th Conference (1988) state:

The possibility of incorporating a "workshop" into future conferences was discussed. Alternatives put forward included the presentation of a "paper" or the following of a general "theme". It was agreed that this would be a worthwhile exercise but to make it practical the meeting should be expanded into a 2-day format with the host State taking responsibility for organisation.

The 1980's were a period of consolidation and maturation in valuation education but also a decade of great growth. The excitement of rapid development from a low base with ever increasing growth in government resources was over. The major developments were in moving courses to degree level - New Zealand was well in front of Australia with SAIT having led the way in 1975 and RMIT bringing up the rear in 1985 - developing graduate courses, broadening the syllabus to include other property fields and the provision of short courses to practitioners.

Commensurate with the moves to broaden the syllabus were similar occurrences in the professional area. In the early 1980's the Society of Land Economists (SLE) was formed and courses were encouraged to directly meet their needs. This fostered a key change in course development as the emphasis moved away from just valuation to settle more clearly in the discipline of land economics with fields of study now also including property investment, development and feasibility, finance, statistical and financial analysis techniques, marketing, management and administration.

Finally, at the end of this period, some structural developments occurred in Australia to better facilitate non-teaching activities. In 1989 the University of Western Sydney at Hawkesbury established the Property Research Centre (PRO).  Over the next decade the Centre produced a large volume of research papers both of academic and professional interest, engaged in significant consultancies and devoted considerable resources to raise property research expertise and standards in Australia.  At RMIT a similar organisation, the Property Studies Education Unit (PSEU), was to undertake a similar but broader role with much emphasis on short course and seminar offerings, particularly as part of continuing education programs for professional bodies as well as research and various consultancies.


The next decade opened with a bang.  Dr John Baen, a USA real estate professor on contract to Lincoln University in New Zealand convened a "Conference of Australasian Real Estate Educators" held over three days in December 1990 at Lincoln University. Over 75 delegates attended, 42 papers were presented and the scene was set for future growth in collaborative academic and research projects in the region. This seminal meeting sought to achieve the following:

  • meet and mix with other real estate academics within the region in order to broaden our perspective of property as an important discipline;
  • allow an outlet for research and offer others the opportunity to comment and/or collaborate on producing quality research papers that deserve international exposure;
  • encourage symbiotic academic relationships between the property professions, universities and property faculties. Such relationships can only result in improved and higher quality graduates entering the job market and/or graduate students continuing their education to Masters or PhD levels; and
  • inform the delegates of academic positions and research opportunities available at universities and other institutions teaching property subjects.

The Lincoln conference set a high standard in administration and provided an appropriate and successful format for paper presentation and academic discourse with concurrent social functions that has continued into successive conferences through the 1990's.  Importantly it encouraged, for the first time, widespread research activities in property by the local academics.

In 1995 the name of the group was changed to the Pacific Rim Real Estate Society and the formal links established to the network structure of the International Real Estate Society (IRES) providing access to societies of a similar nature in other parts of the world.

Having changed its name from the CIV to the Australian Institute of Valuers (AIV), to the Australian Institute of Valuers and Land Administrators (AIVLA), in the early 1990's it merged with the SLE to form the Australian Institute of Valuers and Land Economists before becoming the Australian Property Institute (API) in 1998. An outcome of these latter developments was the commissioning by the economy grouping in the merged body of the first Australian text book to cover this new broad field and in 1997 the Australian Institute of Valuers and Land Economists produced "Readings in Property Economics", edited by Maurice Squirrell of RMIT.

During this time the API also produced two new valuation texts, "Valuation Principles and Practice" written by valuation academics and practitioners and "Specialist Valuations in Australia and New Zealand, Theory and Practice" principally written by practitioners.  Further, in 1995 Professor Tom Whipple from Curtin University in Western Australia published his comprehensive and authoritative valuation textbook "Property Valuation and Analysis".

PRRES continues to grow with a 1999 membership of 160 people. In January 1999 it held its first annual conference out of the Australasian region being in Kuala Lumpur.  It has now developed a substantial internet presence, appointed an historian, publishes an electronic journal, produces a twice yearly newsletter, now uses the "Australian Land Economics Review" as its official journal (published twice yearly by the University of Technology Sydney), presents two annual achievement awards and hosts an increasingly popular annual conference which is the pre-eminent property research event in the Pacific Rim region.

Into the Next Millennium

Publication of its first textbook is confirmation that PRRES is firmly established as the region's key, learned society and distinguished from the major industry bodies such as the Property Council of Australia, the various state Real Estate Institutes and the professional bodies, such as the Australian Property Institute.
PRRES approaches the new millennium guided by a 1998‑2003 Strategic Plan and with great confidence in its future development.

** From the Australian Land Economics Review, Special Edition, Property Into The Next Millennium, January 2000, Edited by David Parker