Catch up with Oliver Hume

This month we speak to two men at the helm of Oliver Hume – acclaimed as Australia’s leading residential project marketer.

Recognised as the marketing force behind an enviable list of some of the nation’s most reputable residential communities and residential development companies, Oliver Hume launched more than $1 billion in new land projects last year.

But who is leading this property juggernaut? Capstone set out to find out.


Julian Coppini is the CEO of Oliver Hume – Project Marketing. He has a team of more than 100 employees and manages a portfolio across Victoria and Queensland valued at more than $5 billon.

His right-hand man is George Bougias, who is the firm’s national head of research. George is an experienced property economist, adviser and strategist with experience in analysing and advising on property markets for government, developers and institutional clients.

The Melburnians have spent the best part of the past two years exploring their own neighbourhoods under the 5 km rule during the pandemic, stumbling across new eateries and cafes along the way.

Q: Tell us a little bit about your background and work experience?


I’ve been a chartered accountant for about 20 years. I started my career at KPMG in Melbourne, and also worked internationally for the Brussels office.I’ve also worked for a number of large ASX-listed companies and ended up in construction. I’ve been involved with Oliver Hume about seven years as the CFO and was promoted to CEO 18 months ago.


My background is in economics. I started my career working for the Victorian State Government in the late 1990s as a graduate across different departments, including Treasury and Finance and State Development, working on a diverse range of economic, industry and other policy issues.

Part of that was looking at the property industry, building and construction and urban and regional economies. I’ve been leading research at Oliver Hume for six years.

Q: Which markets around Australia is Oliver Hume active?

We’re based in Victoria, Queensland, Northern Territory, South Australia and New South Wales.

The DNA of the business is really the residential greenfield markets, mostly in Victoria and Queensland. We also have expertise in other new residential dwelling markets across metropolitan and regional locations including homes, townhouses and apartments.

We’re also starting to see an increasing recognition of what Adelaide offers as a place to live and invest which is an exciting opportunity for us.

At every stage of the development cycle, we aim to reduce costs and save valuable time, ensuring we only take on and deliver projects that provide our clients and buyers with the most potential for long-term success.

Q: Can you walk us through how COVID has impacted the greenfield market?

At the beginning of 2020 there was considerable uncertainty. We all prepared for a rough ride and suspected we would need to batten down the hatches for a few months at least. After a few months into COVID-19, the market stabilised and no-one could have predicted the impact that COVID would have on the property market, not least the subsequent boom we’ve experienced.

Record low interest rates, working from home and government support, especially the HomeBuilder incentive, have had an unprecedented impact on the market. We saw that many people had a lot more money through, for example, spending less on overseas holidays and eating out. Much of this was funnelled into the property market.

We also saw many people transacting property through online platforms, such as our own proprietary platform, which was quite new for the sector.

Q: Do you expect that COVID will have a temporary or permanent impact on housing and more broadly?

Our view is that the shifts in the property market, in some ways, due to COVID are permanent. The work from home phenomenon will remain in some capacity which will, in turn, change the requirements of the family home. That isn’t going away anytime soon.

It took a virus, lockdowns and restrictions to shut down many parts of the physical economy but also to change our perspective and show us that we can actually use Teams and Zoom and all the other tech to digitise what we do. We might have got there in, say, 10 or 15 years, but we’ve been in fast-forward over the last two years and the future is already here.

Obviously, it’s been a tough time, particularly in Melbourne, but the support from government and, then, improving confidence have kept the industry firing on all cylinders.

Q: How do you see property and technology interacting in the future?

The technology available removes many unknowns, makes it easier overall and enables many buyers to secure a property without the need to travel (or travel less). This shift to purchasing property online, in some cases sight unseen, is here to stay. People can choose a block of land and transact everything online. This is a big opportunity for buyers to transact quickly and seamlessly – you can, effectively, secure property in a few clicks of the mouse. It’s an exciting time. We feel that we’re, potentially, on the cusp of the next wave of innovation – not just in residential property, but across the economy more broadly. We’re also entering this period of innovation and change in the way that many people choose to live and where they work. This shift could change many aspects of our cities and regions. For example, following the decentralisation shift we have seen over the last two years, we could see more population growth in the regions and in both metropolitan outer suburban and greenfield locations. This raises many opportunities and challenges. For example, now that working from home is here to stay, one question which arises is, how do we better facilitate employment opportunities across our cities and towns? Do we provide more (and better) local activity centres, including maybe even business hubs, in the suburbs that people can easily use and access? There’s going to be more connection in the digital world but connecting in our local areas, in the physical world, will also be important. In addition, as immigration is restored, it is likely that we will see a return to robust population growth in the future. Australia’s population is set to increase significantly over the coming decades and various questions must be asked. For example, will our approach to accommodating the population increase be the same, ‘business as usual’ if you like, or will we rethink the way we accommodate a larger Australia?, We’re going to have to do a few things differently because we can’t keep doing what we’re doing. Affordability, home ownership and rising living costs are all, increasingly, of concern, Anything we can do to tackle these major challenges is going to be a plus.

Q: What opportunities do you see in the market going forward?

There are a couple of points here. The first is that the pandemic has impacted many markets in all sorts of ways and there is still uncertainty Some of that uncertainty has to do with what we do and how we shape the future. But there are many reasons to be optimistic. The last two years has shown that, as a nation, we’ve handled an extremely challenging situation pretty well.

It is important to note that this isn’t something that policymakers, business people or the community have dealt with before. So, we’ve had to learn and act fast. The second point is that we should always be prepared for the unexpected, including that which, right now, might be a low probability or not make much sense. COVID has reminded us that the future is many things but it is, almost certainly, not linear. For example, there have been some oddities. Right-now, second hand cars are worth more than new cars. Second hand watches are the same.

These market movements were largely unpredictable. The same is in property, where we experienced a boom in many markets while being faced with the toughest economic conditions experienced in decades. We’ll know more next year on how this plays out but there are both upside and downsize risks Of course, there is always the chance of a moderation or even correction in the market.

There’s still a lot of fragility out there and a lot of debt. But there’s also lot of money out there in the world, and a lot of it is wanting to enter the Australian market once the borders open.

We’ve looked back at what occurred after the Spanish Flu and other similar events to understand what we might be in for going forward.

The decades that followed the Spanish flu changed the world forever but, it’s interesting that, in the decade that followed, the Roaring Twenties occurred. The Roaring Twenties were a period of rapid expansion, growth and innovation. Although history cannot tell us everything about the future, it is another factor to consider in forming a view. And we’re optimistic about Australia and the future.

In the short to medium-term, once the international borders open, we will start seeing migrants, students and tourists wanting to come here. We will be a destination of choice after what has been a very hard time for our country.

Q: What do you do when not working?


I also like to spend time with my three and seven year old boys and my wife. I also love coffee and everything to do with coffee. Roasting coffee beans, trying to perfect coffee profiles. I have a coffee machine everywhere I go: the office, the beach house and home. I drink about four to five cups a day and love to try and perfect the blend and get a beautiful shot. I just love everything about it.


I really love coffee too! I like to spend time with my wife, family and friends. And I really love travelling. I miss being able to jump on a plane and fly across the world. Over the last few years we’ve been going to Europe or the US each year. We love meeting new people and learning. I’m also interested in what’s happening around the world in terms of economics, technology, politics and other trends. This fits in well with what I do at Oliver Hume. I read a lot and try to keep on top of the latest news, especially the news and trends which might impact the property sector, no matter what that might be.