LJ Hooker Lismore principal Paul Deegan is the third generation to operate the 100-year-old family business.
LJ Hooker Lismore principal Paul Deegan is the third generation to operate the 100-year-old family business. Marc Stapelberg

Lismore real estate agent celebrates 100th birthday

BACK in 1916, when horses and carts dominated traffic on the streets of Lismore, Paul Deegan's grandfather John opened one of the city's first real estate agents.

Today, after three generations of family ownership, what is now known as LJ Hooker Lismore celebrates 100-years of business.

After establishing the Goolmangar Store when he was just 20 years old, Mr Deegan's grandfather owned Ballina's Exchange Hotel - where the Hotel Henry Rous now stands - for five years and worked at Trevan Ford in Lismore, selling cars for a year, before entering into real estate.

"It was known as Elliot and Deegan for a short time until Thomas Elliot died and it then became John Deegan and Co Real Estate," Paul Deegan said.

"The business was around in Molesworth St, diagonally opposite where the old post office is."

In those days, with limited real estate agents on the North Coast, Mr Deegan said his grandfather sold a number of hotels up and down the coast.

"He sold a lot of hotels but he also sold stock, properties and houses - they did everything back in those days," he said.

"Athol Pidcock started with my grandfather in 1935 and he worked there for 50 years."

In 1939, Mr Deegan said his grandfather bought the current Woodlark St premises for £6300.

"The premises was formerly the English, Scottish and Australian Bank," he said.

"Then, when my dad Frank and his brother John came back from the Second World War they took Athol Pidcock on as a partner in the business.

"The three of them were partners in the business until 1985."

While working as a construction project manager in Sydney, Paul Deegan spent three nights a week for two years studying for his real estate licence at North Sydney TAFE.

"When I started in real estate, houses in Lismore were an average price of $70,000. Now the same houses would be worth $350,000," he said.

Other than the introduction of electronic typewriters, photocopiers and colour photos, Mr Deegan said the biggest development in real estate was computers and the internet.

"Back in the day we used to be the gatekeepers of all the information about the properties we had listed - people had to come and see us," he said.

"Now they can get online and find out all that information and see photos of a property before they call and arrange to inspect it."

Mr Deegan said he thought Lismore had a great future as a city, with the potential for expansion and reliable, solid employment generated by the hospital and the university.