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Alberta Online Encyclopedia

Real Estate Specialization

Laurier Heights

The boom made specialization in the real estate industry possible. Real estate agents before the 1950s had to combine real estate with insurance to survive. Not only could a company work solely in real estate, it could also specialize in various types of real estate, such as condominiums and high-end/low-end single family homes. Acreages, recreational property, and commercial real estate were also specialties.

Esch Real Estate specialized in acreages. Started by Peter Esch, it was continued by his sons Ron and Jim. (Jim remains active in the EREB and has been given a Life Membership.) Most of the acreages were located west and east of Winterburn and Stony Plain. Peter Esch recalls that many of his customers were from a rural background who wanted to return to the land.

New Subdivisions of Edmonton

Initially, people were interested in three-acre hobby farms where they could raise animals and have their privacy. This trend was encouraged by the County of Parkland, which benefited from the expansion of its tax base. It limited acreages initially to three-acre parcels. Esch Real Estate helped farmers market and sell their land, thus creating economic benefits for the land owners as well as for the county.

MacGregor Real Estate was a company that specialized in recreational properties. It was established by Bill MacGregor in 1944. He was a member of the original group that set up the Edmonton Real Estate Board Co-operative Listing Bureau, Ltd. in 1952. He was awarded a Life Membership in the EREB.

Bill began to sell lake front property in the late 1940s, eventually establishing an office at Alberta Beach in 1952. As with acreages, the customers had to be educated on the finer points of this type of real estate. In some cases the property line extended to the beach and in other cases it did not. The distinction between a lake front lot and a genuine lake front lot depended on the survey plan.

Expertise gathered by the Esch family, Bill MacGregor, and others was passed on to various companies through the activities of the Board's Acreages, Farms and Recreational Properties Committee. This educational program for members of the industry was necessary because acreages are a specialized market that have specific needs concerning water problems, septic systems, schools, zoning regulations, and utilities.

Industrial, commercial, and investment property was another specialization. Three companies active in this area were Melton Real Estate, Weber Brothers, and Imperial Real Estate. Pat Turner was in charge of Melton's commercial division. He contributed to the activities of the Edmonton Real Estate Board by serving on the Industrial, Commercial and Investment standing committee.

Imperial Real Estate was established by Jack Young in 1952. Dennis Stewart, Ray Buxton, and John Sinclair were managers of its various branches. In 1958 Dennis Stewart acquired the company and expanded it to twelve departments. These departments dealt with all aspects of the industry.

Many of the employees of Imperial Real Estate played an important part in the activities of the Association. This group included Ray Buxton, Dennis Stewart, and Trevor Caithness. Trevor Caithness was with the company from 1958 to 1967, when he went into business for himself. One of the distinctive features of the company, he recalls, was Ray Buxton's eighty¬hour training program.

This article is extracted from John Gilpin, Responsible Enterprise: A History of Edmonton Real Estate & the Edmonton Real Estate Board. (Edmonton: Edmonton Real Estate Board, 1997). The Heritage Community Foundation and the Alberta Real Estate Foundation would like to thank John Gilpin and the REALTORS® Association of Edmonton for permission to reproduce this material.

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