REALTOR®, farmer reflects on selling his family’s century-old homestead

While sifting through a cluster of vintage lamps, broken headlights, rusty antique farming equipment and decades-old magazines might not sound like the job of a real estate agent, for Gary Chambers, it was a labour of love.

After his parents moved out of their almost 120-year-old property earlier this year, Chambers, a REALTOR®, real estate agent and farmer in Drumheller, Alberta, made the difficult decision to list his childhood home.

“It was a very hard decision,” Chambers said. “When you’re a REALTOR® and you’re in the selling position, you put yourself in others’ shoes. You realize the emotions that come with it. This one in particular, it was a centennial farm homesteaded in 1909 and it’s been in the Chambers name ever since.”

“As REALTORS®, we need to take the time to listen to the stories behind each transaction, what makes the house important to the seller and why the property means something to them. After doing so, we should be handling their transaction in an empathic way,” Chambers said.

Chambers might have been responsible for the sale, but the process was tough on his whole family.

“I think it’s always hard when it comes to selling a piece of property, especially if it’s where you grew up because all your memories are there. Having that amount of history behind it and having about 120 years of the family name behind it, really made it challenging for all members of the family to let it go.”

He remembers watching his father farm the land, get stuck in quick sand on parts of his 320-acre property and riding motocross around the fields.

While Chambers continues to farm the land today, he was forced to say goodbye to the buildings.

“The buildings had a lot of memories and history. It took us the better part of a year to clean up all the buildings because the old-time farmers kept every old lamp or headlight, or every piece of steal or equipment that could possibly be used, he said. “As you go through those buildings, you find things most people wouldn’t recognize, let alone most REALTORS®.”

Thankfully, he was able to keep some of the more memorable items, however, it was also an eye-opening experience for his business.

“It’s our job to take the emotion out of the transaction but I think we often lose sight of the empathy we have to practice,” Chambers said.

A perfect example of this came when it was time to decide on a listing price.

“It was challenging for me to not ask for more than what its worth. It was challenging for me to not put a big number on the property and to separate my REALTORS® state of mind from my personal mind.”

Chambers takes solace in knowing when nobody is living there, it’s just a house. “For the better part of last year, my parents weren’t there, so it did make it easier from that perspective. When everyone’s gone, it’s just a vacant property.”

Fast-forward to today, Chambers said closing day was especially hard.

“You kind of get caught up in the transaction. You get so caught up in the details and it’s easy to distract yourself with business. On closing day, it’s done. It’s no longer yours. I think that part of it was hard. On closing day, it all kind of hits you.”

The nine-acre property is now in the hands of a young woman living the rural lifestyle. According to Chambers, she’ll have livestock, chickens, horses and sheep.

“All you can really hope for is that it goes to another farming family. We were happy to see it go to someone who’s a living a rural lifestyle, living off the land,” said Chambers.

As Communications Manager, Michael Shaw manages a dynamic team of talented communicators and social media experts. Whether its content produced by CREA or REALTOR.ca, Michael has seen it and approved it. When he’s not working or taking care of his daughter, Michael is travelling the globe, watching live music or relaxing on the dock.


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