While visiting offices in the South Island recently, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to visit Bluff and catch up with Alan Mitchell, one half of the South Island’s most southerly sales team! Alan manages the Perpetual Real Estate office in Bluff, along with his wife Jan, who unfortunately couldn’t join us due to other commitments.
Born in Bluff, Alan has lived there all his life and has spent the last forty years working in the real estate industry. Jan – originally from Invercargill – has been in real estate now for sixteen years. It’s not clear whether it was a case of “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em”, but they’ve been working as a solid team ever since!
When I ask Alan if he has any advice for other husband and wife teams, he states that “it’s all about give and take – it’s as simple as that. You have to make it work, and that means biting your tongue sometimes”. Then he cheekily adds that when he and Jan disagree over real estate matters, “I’m the boss and that’s that”. But don’t feel sorry for Jan – apparently she is well able to express an opinion!
Alan’s enthusiasm for the industry is obvious and when I ask him what he enjoys most, he replies without hesitation: “I enjoy matching people and houses. I particularly get a real kick out of seeing people get into their first home. That gives me just as much satisfaction today as it did forty years ago”.
He also enjoys the fact that no two years are the same. During his career, Alan estimates that the real estate market has gone through three to four complete cycles. A definite low point, both personally and professionally, was the closure of the local freezing works in 1991, resulting in the loss of 900 jobs. Alan believes that it is only really in the last five to ten years that the town has begun to recover from the resulting slump.
While driving me around town to view the sights, Alan points out some of the houses in the area and recalls the stories behind them. There are some homes in the town, which he has sold several times over, and families that the has dealt with through four generations of real estate needs!
Outside of real estate, Alan enjoys gardening, bowls and fishing. Both he and Jan are also heavily involved in community events. Alan is currently chairing the subcommittee for the Oyster Opening and Eating Races, part of the popular Bluff Oyster Festival, an annual event, which this year will be taking place on Saturday 24th May.
However, if Alan considers real estate to be his forte, then Jan certainly takes the lead when it comes to community involvement. As chairperson of the Bluff History Group, Jan was the driving force behind the establishment of the Bluff Heritage Trail, which features seventeen sites of historic interest around the area. She is also a Justice of Peace, a marriage celebrant, chairperson of the Bluff Community Board and – as if that wasn’t enough – she is also the editor of The Bluff Beacon, a popular community newsletter.
Through Perpetual Real Estate, they often sponsor local events, the most recent of which was the Lands End Garden Club Flower Show, which took place on February 9th and 10th at Bluff Town Hall. Their participation included the donation of trophies for the prize-giving and helping to promote the show.
Alan believes that, living in a small town, you have to be prepared to give. Unlike in larger towns and cities, where commercial events help to bring people together, towns like Bluff rely on members of the community to organise events and keep things vibrant.
Given all this, I think Jan and Alan are the perfect candidates for a ‘Voices’ blog, as they obviously have a wealth of knowledge to share with prospective buyers. Although Alan wouldn’t claim to be the most computer-savvy person around – daughter Megan helps with updating the company website - Alan can see the importance and benefit of the internet when it comes to real estate marketing. The company receives frequent enquiries via the internet and has sold properties on the strength of those enquiries.
So, is blogging about to hit Bluff? Watch this space!
March 06 2008 10:55 am | Meet Your Colleagues