City Weekly interview with Harry Triguboff

Publication: City Weekly
Media: Nan Hai Media Group

As a Sydneysider, you must know the name of Meriton. But you may not know that Harry Triguboff, the richest man in Australia who established the Meriton Empire, was born in China. Harry has an extreme intelligence, diligence and an unusual attention to detail. We are honoured to meet Harry recently and he has shared us with his own point of view towards the Australian property market and his own key to success.

As long as I believe the thing is right, I will do it and insist on it.

We know that you were born in China, so what is your impression on China?

I grew up in Tianjin and was surrounded by Chinese people at that time. My life was good in China during the wartime and my family and I also went to Beidaihe (the summer resort) every summer. I studied at Tianjin Jewish school. The school was small, but the teachers were good. I learnt Russian and English very well, and I also wrote Chinese very well. I have a good impression on China.

You established the Meriton Empire in 1963, so what is your key to success?

I succeed because I work hard. I still work hard right now. I am surrounded by people who are like me. Meriton doesn’t have shareholders so I can make any decisions I believe that is right. When I believe it is right, then it is right and vice versa. It makes things easy because everyone is pushing you instead of arguing.

How to understand “I believe what I did is right”?

As long as I believe the thing is right, I will do it and insist on it. Some people thought Meriton’s standards are not high enough at the very beginning. The quality of Meriton’s apartments are constantly improved because I believe it is right. Every project must be better than the previous one.

Why Meriton only has apartments instead of houses?

To be honest, apartments are more profitable. I saw the opportunity at the very beginning because there was no apartment at that time. Chinese people lived in apartments but Australians were not at that time. So I knew there must be some spaces for me in the market. I believed it was right, so I did it. Besides, I don’t have to consider too much for building an apartment and it can be very efficient.

You said that you have spent your whole life fighting for affordable apartment. But property prices have increased rapidly these years? What do you think about this problem.

If I have to choose between the cheaper one and the better one, I will choose the better one. I am always looking for better quality which can’t be that cheap, however, I can provide purchaser with the best price and some financial help. I believe they will understand me.

“The property market booms because of the lack of supplies instead of Chinese buyers.”

Why Chinese people buy properties in Australia?

I asked Chinese buyers one question: Where is cheaper, Sydney or Beijing. Their answers are the same——Sydney. So it is certain that they will buy properties here. In fact ,Australian should realize that there are connections between Chinese and Australian markets. When Australian banks restrict Chinese buyers, Chinese property markets begin to boom. It is hard to keep the equilibrium unless we have a very deep understanding on each others. But it is very hard.

Will property prices keep on increasing

The price has increased 50% in the past few years and decreased 5% recently. I think the price may keep on increasing. But the reason is the lack of supplies instead of Chinese buyers. Millions of immigrates, students, workers and visitor come to Australia every year, and they increase the demands of properties which lead to the increasing of property prices.

Is Australia restricting overseas buyers?

To some extent, banks do but governments don’t . The government always wants to charge fees from the overseas buyers. Some people say that the increasing of property prices makes it hard for young buyers to afford but some people like the old citizens are happy about that. Some people are happy, others aren’t. You can’t satisfy all the people.

What is your suggestion to Chinese people?

Don’t hesitate, just buy it. The price will not increase all the time. The market may have fluctuation but it is normal.

“We should be optimistic and believe that things will be better.”

Do you regard Chinese property companies expansion as a threat?

No, the Australian market may not be as easy as they thought. It is different from China. You may have problems with the council or it might be dangerous to make decisions because some Australian cities don’t have too many people.

Will you expand Meriton to China?

No, not even to Melbourne right now. Different place has different cultures and demands, even between Sydney and Melbourne. I don’t like it because it can be hard for me to control.

Have you ever faced with challenges these years?

H: Sure. Back in 1980s, there was a property boom in the Gold Coast. I bought two lands and lost money in both because I didn’t understand the market there at that time. Besides, I had once bought some lands in Sylvania but the council didn’t allow me to build what I want. But these losses were nothing compared with what I have earned.

What are China and Australia supposed to learn from each other?

Chinese people should learn to relax or they will not be able to walk further. When I am tired, I just go to sleep. Don’t be worried. For Australian people, they should realize the opportunities in this country. They should learn to depend on themselves instead of the government. We all have a bright future. We should be optimistic and believe that things will be better. I don’t think who is the greatest, we are all the greatest.

Can you say something to Chinese people at the very last of our conversation?

I have seen the changes of China and Australia for 50 years and I saw the development of economy. Chinese buyers should believe in the prosperity of the world in the future. I hope more Chinese visitors come to Australia and more Australian people to China to learn from each others.

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