Rodger Letham has brought down the hammer for the final time on a rural real estate career spanning 33 years.
His first sale on December 9, 1988 earned him a commission of $516.25 and was a cottage on a half acre block at Hinds.
The sales price of $29,500 is the first entry in a register that catalogues his sales and the peaks and troughs of the rural real estate market over the last three decades.
Rodger, who is Lauriston born and raised, was forced to sell his farm in the late 1980s and after clearing his debts took a $45,000 payout from the Government.
At the age of 45 he was given the chance to reinvent himself by the late Colin McLeod of Hastings McLeod and took to real estate like a duck to water.
“I was grateful to Colin at the time because I had to do something.”
Rodger said he had enjoyed his years in the business, had made good friendships and was proud of what he had achieved.
The industry had changed and today was very corporate, had lots of rules and regulations and was more complicated than it used to be.
Rodger’s biggest sale was a big dairy farm at Coldstream in the 1990s, which sold for $19 million.
For close to 30 years he’s also been an auctioneer.
He brought down the hammer on the sale of Holmeslee at Rakaia for $12.1 million a number of years ago.
“I did a four day course in auctioneering and have always loved the thrill of an auction.
“Like any entertainer, I’ve always liked an audience,” he jokes.
Rodger said real estate is a simple and easy business if you do it right.
“Preparation is key and communication is very important.
“If you combine that with the right marketing and the right price, then properties will sell themselves.”
He said in recent years the rural real estate market had been heavily affected by the ups and downs of the dairy payout.
Another feature for him over the last few years has been strong customer loyalty.
“About 90 per cent of my business in recent times has come from repeat business and referrals.
“I’ve sold four farms to one customer and another for him, as an example.”
Real estate has always been a team effort, says Rodger, and he was proud to have been associated with Hastings McLeod and now Property Brokers.
It was a business that rewarded people fairly for their efforts and the work they did.
Stepping back from real estate will allow Rodger more time to spend with his wife Yvonne and support her after a recent stroke.
He will continue to carry out his council duties as an elected Western Ward councillor, a role he is thoroughly enjoying.
-By Mick Jensen