One hundred and eight years of Launceston real estate history has come to an end, after local estate agency Bushby was bought out by Sydney-based The Agency recently.
Phillip Bushby, director of The Agency – Team Bushby, as the firm will now be known as, said his great-grandfather, George Bushby, started the business around 1914 – making it one of the oldest estate firms in the country.
His uncles operated the business in Launceston after Mr Bushby’s father opted for a career in medicine.
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“I was invited by my uncles to come and join the business at the end of 1969, aged 18, and I’ve been there 52 years, ” he said.
He started at the bottom in the agency, working at the front reception, and for the next half-century, his only break from the business was in 1972 for a stint as a National Serviceman during the Vietnam War.
Starting in 1969 with 8 staff and just 40 properties managed, the agency grew to a current staff roster of 32 and 1350 properties under management.
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He called that property management side, or the “rent roll” as he named it, the “backbone” of his business.
“No matter whether you’re in a recession, you’ve got that stable income that comes in to help protect the firm.”
That rent buffer is something other Launceston agencies might view with envy now, as the city’s property market enters a downturn.
Mr Bushby criticised the Reserve Bank of Australia, saying it had moved too aggressively and quickly to spike interest rates, contributing to the current market falls.
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Launceston’s real estate market has changed almost beyond recognition since 1969, he said.
“When I first started, we were selling houses for $8,000 up to $18,000, and you could buy a block of land for less than $2000,” he said.
Apart from values, Mr Bushby said the technology has changed the business the most.
Bushby was acquired by The Agency, one of only two ASX-listed real estate agencies in the country.
Chief executive officer, Geoff Lucas, who was in Launceston this week for the announcement of the takeover deal, said he chose Bushby because of his strong belief in the future of the real estate market in Northern Tasmania, as well as Bushby’s history and pedigree.
The Agency is one of the largest estate agents in the country, with revenue of $72.7 million in the year to June 30, and branches nationwide.
Mr Lucas said plans for Tasmania weren’t at an end, and suggested he was on the lookout for further real estate agency acquisitions in Devonport and Hobart, as part of a growth strategy.
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