After more than four decades in the local real estate industry, Geoff Coustley is not only saying goodbye to early mornings, he is farewelling the Wimmera as well.
Geoff has worked for Elders in Horsham for the 36 years and prior to that he did real estate with Bennetts Farmers.
It is quite a feat spending almost an entire career in the one industry, but Geoff said the diversity of real estate and the constant changes to the industry kept him interested and on his toes.
"I have almost spent my whole career in real estate, except for a few years in livestock and I have honestly really enjoyed it. The variety of properties and the people that you deal with are fantastic," Geoff said.
"I have done predominantly rural real estate and the farmers are so good to deal with. There is a lot of time out and about visiting them and their properties and the flexibility and diversity has been a real highlight.
"We have quite a bit of repeat business and through that you forge friendships and that has been special. The repeat business shows people are happy with your work which is great, but forming the friendships is the real highlight."
Some of the changes Geoff has seen in the industry include the introduction of the vendor statement, the changing size of farms and the huge increase in land values.
"I had a reminisce through the books the other night and the business has been selling smaller farms to the bigger operators and now those bigger operators are getting very big and the great thing is they are mainly still family businesses and helping them get so big has been great," Geoff said.
"Another big change we have seen is the introduction of the vendor statement, so all the particulars of the property have to be prepared for purchases to look at, all the relevant certificates and documents. It has increased due diligence and allowed buyers to really know what they are getting."
Geoff has seen the way land prices and drought have affected farmers buying and selling land.
"Interest rates have changed so much over the years. They were up around 18 per cent in the 1980s but the debt wasn't as high and it did slow down people buying properties. That was a tough time to work through, a fair few people had to get out during that time," he said.
"It is sad when you see farming families who have to get out of the industry but at the same time it allows others the opportunity to expand. In 1982 we had a bad drought but it was short term and most got back on their feet. The dry years from 2000 to 2012 were obviously really tough but land values stayed the same though so not a lot have had to get out in this region."
Geoff has also worked in residential and sales and helped a lot of locals find their first or dream home.
"On the residential side of things, we help people both ways. We help sellers for whatever reason and purchasers. Seeing home buyers get their dream home or their first home is pretty special," he said.
"Something I have always felt is that you're working for your clients. You want a good result for sellers and buyers and after that our commission looks after itself.
"The first priority is the clients and it never gets old seeing the excitement people have when they get their first or dream house. At the end of the day it is a person's largest investment and they want to trust who is dealing with it, so getting the repeat business always feels great because you know you have done something right.
"Business comes down to good communication between buyers and sellers and being honest - I always pride myself on being honest."
But as life as a busy real estate agent comes to a close, Geoff is looking forward to his next stage of life. He and wife Annie and 11-year-old daughter Ella are moving to north of Brisbane.
"After getting up and going to work for 48 years, it is going to be bit strange but I don't think I will be sleeping in," he said.
"I still water-ski and love fishing so I look forward to going up there and having time to go out and use the boats. I have some family up there as well so we will do some short trips around QLD and keep busy."
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