David Sommerville has retired after being a key member of the sales team and a Franchise partner at McGrath Ballina.
David Sommerville has retired after being a key member of the sales team and a Franchise partner at McGrath Ballina. Contributed

Top real estate agent calls it a day

DAVID Sommerville believes Ballina is still the place to be when it comes to real estate and the increasing interest in property across the Northern Rivers.

Mr Sommerville recently retired after spending 32 years in real estate on the Northern Rivers, closing the chapter on his 42 years of real estate life as a sales consultant and franchise co-owner at McGrath in Ballina, where he spent the last twenty years.

His career has been filled with interesting moments but he will never forget the day he was overseeing an open house and his wife walked in only to inquire why she hadn't been made aware of the fantastic opportunity.

Needless to say they ended up purchasing the property themselves.

"Probably the dearest sale I have ever been in involved with, I didn't get paid and it cost money" he said.

Another highlight for him was the sale of the 58 Shelly Beach Road property with its tiles and mosaic facade and how it was subsequently purchased by a mosaic artist.

"It is a property that is well recognised in Ballina and East Ballina, and it was a Sydney family and they came along and recognised it for what it looked like.

"There are countless sales, but at the end of the day when you talk to the people many, many years afterwards, whether you see them in the street or they come to our annual Christmas party, particularly people you do repeat business with, they are no longer clients but they are actually friends," he said.

Born and bred in Bourke, where his career started, Mr Sommerville was transferred firstly to Gunnedah then to Walcha when he attended TAFE at Armidale to obtain his licences.

Mr Sommerville was then transferred to Young in southern NSW as a branch manager as a stock and station agent.

After this he eventually made the bold leap to the Northern Rivers purchasing the Evans Head LJ Hooker and raising his young family in what he still considers the best part of Australia.

Mr Sommerville said the attraction of the industry was certainly the people he met during the course of his workday, helping a young person get their first home or helping people on both sides of the deal get a great outcome.

Mr Sommerville enjoyed being a licence auctioneer and sold many properties over the years under the hammer and he also was involved in many charity auctions during his career.

As an industry, he reflected, it was increasingly becoming more professional as legislation made auctions become more transparent and registered bidding allowed the process to be more accurate.

He said technology meant people didn't engage with each other directly as much.

But where they had seen a dramatic shift was in the way buyers had become just as savvy as agents with access to such things like RP data and solid background research on any property they were interested in.

"I think a lot of people research a lot more, not only about the properties but also the particular agents," he said.

He said there was a good energy on the Northern Rivers where agents were selling more than what was listed.

He observed Ballina had increasingly become a hub potentially taking over from Lismore, as well as benefiting from regional centres weathering the metropolitan downturns relatively unscathed.

Mr Sommerville said he would now focus on spending time with his grandchildren and family and possibly look into volunteering or find part time work to keep occupied.



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