When Alan Rossignoli closed the door of his Wyndham St real estate business last week, he ended more than 40 years of Shepparton CBD presence. But the Rossignoli name has been synonymous with Shepparton real estate for much longer. John Lewis talked to the man whose family has been selling dreams for 60 years.
As Alan Rossignoli puts it: "We're closing our office, but we're continuing on.”
It seems when you're in the business of selling real estate, you can't just walk away from 41 years of building relationships and handing over keys.
At 66 years old, Alan can confidently claim to be Shepparton's longest practising real estate principal.
But his once-bustling office is now empty and awaits a new business leaseholder.
His staff, which at one point numbered about 15 people, have nearly all found jobs in other branches of real estate.
Now it's time for some caravanning with his wife Wendy and a spot of fishing.
But of course, the real estate game is never completely over. Not while you have a mobile phone with a contact list 41 years in the making.
Alan will continue as a sole operator, using his well-honed people skills to put buyers and sellers in touch, help deliver dreams, create nest eggs or build secure leaseholds.
“It's a sort of semi-retirement I suppose, just slowing down a bit,” he says.
When Alan gained his real estate licence in Melbourne in 1979, the Rossignoli name was already a fixture on the Shepparton real estate landscape.
His father Dante arrived in Australia from Italy in 1924 to work as a cane-cutter in Queensland. By the 1930s the Rossignolis were market gardeners in Koo Wee Rup before moving to Shepparton to start an orchard in Central Ave.
Dante developed a skill for selling farms and in 1960 he joined real estate firm Young Husbands which later amalgamated with Elders, based in Wyndham St. In 1973 Dante Rossignoli went into partnership with Les Young, forging a Shepparton real estate dynasty.
When Alan entered real estate in 1979, he already had a degree in marketing and accountancy up his sleeve. When he became a finalist in the Real Estate Institute of Victoria's novice auctioneers competition it became clear he had found his calling.
Alan remembers a time when the personal touch was everything.
“People would come into the office, you'd talk to them about their needs and wants, you'd get in the car and drive around and show them the properties or the land they were interested in,” he says.
“That changed when the requirement for children's car seats came in. People then followed you or met you at the property. So you missed that relationship-building time,”
When the internet arrived, things changed again.
“It's become less personal. In later years there's been more photos on websites, walk-through videos, floor plans — that's a real change,” Alan says.
Then there's the sheer size of homes that people expect now.
“Through the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s, people were buying 13 to 20 square homes. Today, project builders are displaying homes with 30 to 35 squares for first home buyers.”
He says Shepparton has seen a lot of real estate activity over the past 10 to 15 years.
“We've seen a good number of people relocating.
“Industry has been developing a lot — with the hospital and small industries — and there's been a lot of growth in migration.”
Alan has also enjoyed supporting community groups such as Apex, Goulburn Valley Rural and Industry Network (GVBraIN), Shepparton Show Me, hospital fundraisers and Meals on Wheels.
“That's been a really solid part of my family,” he says.
“Dad was an inaugural member of the Shepparton South Rotary Club.
“It's about giving back — we have had a very successful and happy career so it's about appreciating the community you live in.”
It might be time to pull back his personal business commitments, but Alan thinks the future is looking good for real estate in Shepparton
“The market is strong, in the residential area particularly.
“I've got a lot of faith in Shepparton over the next 10 to 20 years — it's going to boom.”