Real estate has always been in Robert Ketterer's blood, joining his father Vin Ketterer's agency in 1981, aged 18.
Fast forward 40 years and Mr Ketterer is putting down the auctioneer's hammer to spend more time with his family and take on a larger role at Villawood Properties, where he is a director.
The retiring DCK Real Estate director said Bendigo's property market has steadily grown and weathered economic challenges along the way.
"We had high interest rates in the 1980s, the recession we had to have, the Global Financial Crisis and now the coronavirus pandemic," Mr Ketterer said.
"We lived through it all and my message has been the same, I always tell people to just get into the market."
The real estate stalwart started his career in property management, before purchasing his father's business in 1992.
Operating as an LJ Hooker franchise, the agency was high achieving, earning the status of Victoria's top office.
The rigours of a seven-day-a-week job and a desire to spend more time with his wife Nikki and two children, Meg and Emma, led to the formation of DCK, Dungey Carter Ketterer.
"There has certainly been a lot of generational change in the industry," Mr Ketterer said.
"Marketing became a lot more important and the arrival of the internet and social media now plays a big part in selling real estate."
While providing advice and guidance to scores of customers, Mr Ketterer endeavoured to practice what he preached, buying and developing numerous properties during the past four decades.
The establishment of Villawood Properties in 1989 helped him gain a greater appreciation of property development, he said.
"It's great to see property projects in the pipeline that get underway and completed," he said.
The life upheaval tenants undergo when owners choose to sell a property they've lived in for years is one of the challenges of real estate, Mr Ketterer said.
"It can be heartbreaking to go to a home someone has rented for years and looked after like their own, to be told the owners need or want to sell," he said.
"That's one of the reasons why I encourage people to buy a property, even if it's not perfect to start with or they don't want to live in it immediately.
"Build a property base that you can rely on later because it's always something to come back to."
Mr Ketterer and wife Nikki have bought, sold and renovated countless homes during the past four decades and said there is no better way to build a property portfolio than to improve the home you live in.
"It's one of the few tax-free assets you can have," Mr Ketterer said.
"I certainly didn't do it all, a lot of it was Nikki's forte.
"We worked as a team."
Outside of real estate, Mr Ketterer enjoys the high octane sports of V8 Supercars and Nascar.
A director of Girton Grammar School for 19 years, Mr Ketterer oversaw the college's property acquisition and building program, valued at $20 million, while doubling the school's student population. As chairman, he was also pivotal in the successful merger of the Bendigo Weekly with Australian Community Media in 2019.
Bendigo Advertiser editor and former Bendigo Weekly general manager Peter Kennedy congratulated Mr Ketterer on his retirement, and for his contribution to the community and to the local media industry over many decades.
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