Rotorua's "worst kept secret" is officially out.

Professionals McDowell Real Estate owners Ian McDowell and Phil Hereford have publicly announced they have sold the business.

Yesterday, Mr McDowell and Mr Hereford spoke to the Rotorua Daily Post about their combined 79 years in the real estate industry, what they will miss most and their plans for the future.

"It was Rotorua's worst kept secret," Mr McDowell laughed. "But when we officially announced it, people were pretty positive. Both Phil and I have been in the business for a long time and have worked hard so we're ready for a holiday."

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Mr McDowell joined the family business, which dated back to his great grandfather Thomas McDowell, in 1970. He sold his first property in the same year - a Lake Okareka section for $1600.

"When I moved back to Rotorua in the '70s, an average house sold for about $10,000, so in that respect things have changed a bit - Rotorua has grown up and developed over the years."

Mr McDowell became the firm's principal in 1976, steering the company through amalgamations and the changing property scene.

He said his motivation to stay in the industry so long came down to his love and enjoyment of the job.

When asked what he would miss most, his answer was simple - the people.

"To this day I still enjoy what I do and the people I work with but I am looking forward to going on a lot of holidays."

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Mr McDowell will continue to work part time at the firm until the end of the year.

Mr Hereford is getting ready to hang up his red jacket after 29 years with the company.

He said he had mixed emotions as they closed in on the settlement date.

"Real estate was a field I never thought I'd end up in but it has been a hugely rewarding job."

Mr Hereford will stay on in a support role for two or three months after the settlement date, before "getting some rest and relaxation and having some 'me' time".

"I don't know what I am going to do but I know there will be plenty to keep me occupied."

The company's new owner Steve Lovegrove told Friday's Child Cancer Charity Breakfast and Art Auction it was a "fantastic honour and wonderful space to be in".