Member Spotlight: Chris Makomaski, API Fellow

Valuation consultant and API fellow Chris Makomaski is retiring from the industry after 46 years of service.

There are many great valuers that have blazed the trail for today’s rising real estate stars, and today we must say farewell to one such figurehead.

Valuation consultant Chris Makomaski will be standing down from his post as Australian property Institute Fellow this month, and retiring from valuation completely by the end of 2014, after 46 years in the industry.

First joining the API in 1970, Makomaski became an Associate Member by 1973, before finally becoming a Fellow in 1985. He started out working for the now defunct Harvey Real Estate, owned by John Harvey of Harvey World Travel. Makomaski was part of a team of valuers responsible for developing a new concept of Villa homes, building the first lot in Solander Street, Monterey in 1970.

After working as valuer, development officer and manager, Makomaski retired from Harvey Group in January 1980 and was immediately headhunted to work as a real estate teacher for the Petersham College of TAFE. After teaching many of Australia’s current industry stars for 15 years, an internal disagreement led Makomaski to retire as a teacher and start his own valuation practice – Chris Makomaski Valuations.

“I’m straight down the line. If I don’t like something I tell ‘em and walk out,” he says.

Over the years, Makomaski has practised mainly in real estate valuations, working for a range of Councils, including Rockdale, Burwood and Hunters Hill. Until last month, he worked for the Attorney General’s Department as a contract valuer for the Public Trustee Protective Commission, as well as dipping into family law.

Makomaski has also been a member, and ex-president, of the Southside Valuers Group, made up of around 24 stalwart valuers from the South Sydney region.

“I’ve finished actually going to sites as of last Friday. But I’ve still got about six or seven valuations that I attended in November and I’ll be finishing them up at the end of January. I resigned at the valuer for Public Trustee, effective as of the 31st of December,” he explains.

Of all his roles, Makomaski says that teaching was the most rewarding. Angus Raine, CEO of Raine and Horne and a past student of Makomaski, describes him as “the Mister Chips of the real estate valuation industry” and “a real legend”.

“He’s had a very positive effect on the industry. He was my lecturer over 25 years ago, when I was getting my real estate license as well as in valuation, and we’ve kept in touch ever since. That’s really a mark of the person,” says Raine.

“Like any dedicated teacher, he loves to see his students’ progress, both in their career and their lives. He has been much loved by his students, with many even asking him to be godfather to their children.”

Makomaski didn’t first set foot in Australia until 1950 after spending his childhood in Scotland. Coming from a Polish background, Makomaski was taken from Germany where his father served with the British Army Special Forces from 1940 until 1947. He was sent to Gordonstoun, a co-ed Scottish boarding school in Moray – the same school that Prince Charles attended during the 1960s.

He was inducted into the Australian Army National Services, working in the Royal Australian Artillery and finishing up as a Gunnery Sergeant. After leaving the Forces, working in a Cannery and 11 years of night school, Makomaski wasn't to join the Real Estate industry until 1968.

“I got fed up with the canning industry and by accident I met a friend and he asked ‘why don’t you come and work in real estate?’ and I did, and I loved it."

After his 46 years in the industry, Makomaski says the best advice he can offer budding valuers of today is the importance of ongoing education.

“You have to keep on studying all the time to keep abreast of what is happening in the industry, otherwise you get lost,” he says. “So know the latest trends and problems – the API has a course certificate in risk management, valuers should attend risk management modules every two years.”

Without this up-to-date knowledge, Makomaski says you are at greater risk of being sued.

“The other thing is, we old valuers, if I’ve got problems with the computer, who do I go to? I go to my grandsons Lachlan or Luke, and my youngest granddaughter Claire is eleven and even she knows more about computers than I do… It’s just amazing what computers are now doing to our industry, you really have to be on top of it,” he adds.

At 78 years of age, Makomaski points out that he’s "no spring chicken”, but the real reason for his retirement is to take care of his wife Wanda, who has been ill over the past few years with an intestinal disorder.

“She is getting much better and stronger slowly. I am a carer, in a way, I’m the housewife,” he says.

Makomaski also has two daughters, Hania and Irene, who work in accounting and occupational therapy; and four grandchildren, of which the eldest - Elizabeth - has just completed her first year at Wollongong University.

“The girls are all very bright. My wife too is a trained nurse and a midwife and… I wouldn’t argue with them,” he laughs.

As well as spending more time with his family, Makomaski enjoys his membership with the International Rotary Club and Health Foundation, where he has been involved with bowel scan and cancer prevention for 25 years, distributing bowel test kits to chemists, then retrieving used kits and delivering them to Pathology for tests.

“That’s my main hobby, working with people. We write letters to the people to tell them if they’re all clear or if there are traces of blood and, if the latter, we advise them very strongly to go and see their GP for a test,” he explains. “Last year we saved about 34 people.”

Taking over his valuation practice is another former student of his, James Bouteris from Raine and Horne in Miranda. Makomaski beams as he mentions that a number of his ex-students are now principals of their own companies. He still sees them, as colleagues, students and friends.

“Back then I could actually tell them that they’re bloody lazy kids, and they will be cannon fodder for factories if they don’t study, and they thought I was too bloody hard on them,” he laughs.

“But in the end they say, Chris, you were right, and we’re thankful for it.”

As he prepares his resignation from the API, Makomaski says he is fortunate to have worked with so many people whom he refers to as “beacons of real estate".

“They were people with integrity and responsibility… I was very fortunate to be around a lot of top Australian guys, who were a fantastic honour to be working with.”