EVEN after 25 years in real estate, Michael Whittaker still remembers the first house he sold.
It was at the end of 1994 and the house at 95 Bant Street, South Bathurst, the property going for well below $100,000.
"It had been on the market for probably a good six months and there had been no offers on it at all," he said, adding that it left the more experienced sales people scratching their heads when he sold it.
"They were like, 'How did you get an offer on that?'. It might have been beginners luck, but the rest is history."
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Some people fall into real estate after working in other industries, but for Mr Whittaker, he always knew he wanted to sell houses.
"That was a long-term goal from the age of about 16. I decided I wanted to be a real estate agent," he said.
"I had this massive interest in houses, not really understanding at that time that it wasn't so much about houses, it was more about people."
"I'm not very mechanically minded and I'm not very good on tools and stuff like that. You're put on this Earth for a reason and you've just got to find what you're good at, and I basically decided that I would go into real estate."
While working in real estate was his ambition, there was every chance that the industry wouldn't welcome him.
Mr Whittaker explained that, back then, real estate wasn't a young person's game. Most of the agents were older men and women, with many years of work and experience under their belts.
"It was not common for people in their 20s or even their late teens to work in real estate in any way, shape or form, whereas now it's quite common to employ teenagers in support roles and administration roles," he said.
"There's been very good salespeople in their 20s in Bathurst and right across Australia. The demographic has changed and people are more inclined about how good the salesperson is and how efficient they are, as opposed to how old they are."
But, despite the odds being against him, at the tender age of 23 Mr Whittaker was given a chance by well-known local real estate identity Peter Rogers.
Mr Whittaker was brought on as a sales supporter for Peter Rogers Bathurst Real Estate, which saw him out on the streets putting up signs and knocking on doors, as well as sitting in the office telephone prospecting for the sales team.
He was told that he would not go into a proper sales role for at least two years, but five months later he was moved up.
"In hindsight, it might have been a little bit too soon, but sometimes you sink or swim, and I probably trod water for a while before I got going," he said.
He has sold hundreds, if not thousands, of properties since that small home in Bant Street 25 years ago.
When asked if any sales stood out from his long career, Mr Whittaker said that 247 Bentinck Street was at the top of his list.
He sold the impressive home, which features turrets, in February of 1997 for $325,000, which was a significant sum in those days. The property later went on to sell for almost $800,000.
"The fellow who bought it off me was such a nice bloke," Mr Whittaker recalled.
"It's quite an iconic property really."
After many years working alongside Mr Rogers and his wife, Shelley, Mr Whittaker and his wife Stacey became partners in the business after purchasing approximately one-third of it from the couple.
"The plan was always that after three years, Peter and Shell would sell us the balance of the business and leave the industry," he said.
"With that, they sold us the name 'Bathurst Real Estate', so that's how the name came about."
They eventually changed the name of the business from Peter Rogers Bathurst Real Estate to simply Bathurst Real Estate in January 2012, about five years after they took over the business.
There has been a lot of changes over his 25 years in the industry, particular around regulations and legalities.
Mr Whittaker said there was a time when you would make a deal on a handshake, but that relaxed method of closing a sale wouldn't be accepted today.
"We live in a different world now, a world of compliance, and they're the things that take up your time, just making sure your paperwork is in order to comply with government authorities," he said.
"On top of that, there's an expectation from the consumer that you keep in much more closer contact than what you did in the past.
"Twenty-five years ago, the owners of a house would say 'Don't ring me unless you've got an offer, so if I don't hear from you I know you haven't got anyone interested', whereas now the owners want to know what's going on from week to week."
But, through all the industry changes, Mr Whittaker has never lost his passion for selling real estate.
He said that he does plan to retire at some stage, but until that day comes you'll still see him out and about in the community, helping people's property dreams come true.
"We'll keep working away and just trying our best for our business to provide a really, really good, solid real estate service, where people come to us and know they are going to be well looked after," he said.