Interesting Sales of Realtors, in 1944

Cover image of "Interesting Sales of Realtors"

Cover image of “Interesting Sales of Realtors”, published by the National Institute of Real Estate Brokers in 1944 (Source: NAR Archives)

“Regardless of the number of years a Realtor has practiced, he is always interested in the unusual sales experiences of other operators in his field…,” read the forward to Interesting Sales of Realtors.  Published in November of 1944, it includes the fifty best stories from “many hundreds” submitted to three past presidents of the National Institute of Real Estate Brokers.

The collection includes a rich variety of first hand sales accounts.  “Some reveal creative selling under what seemed insurmountable obstacles; some are spectacular; some simply good examples of sound thinking; and some can be classified as ‘Acts of Providence.'”

Realtor E. L. Scanlon from East Orange, N.J., used what he called “The Will Rogers System.”  Named for the famous humorist who said, “All I know is what I read in the newspapers,” Scanlon summed up the system as “Read the newspapers intelligently…There’s a deal in every daily!”

Realtor Horace Browning of Washington, D.C., persuaded a man to sign a contract with the promise that the buyer would receive a present of a fountain pen exactly like the Realtor’s.  The sale was made in the fall of 1929.  Browning recalled, “After the crash, Mr. A thanked me for selling him the property because he had gotten out of the stock market when he signed the contract.”

“During the boom days of 1920,” Arthur W. Draper, Jr., recalled a property near Chicago’s South Shore Park.  A large theater was to be opened on the land, but one delicatessen owner alone refused to sell.  Finally four members of Draper’s company paid a visit to the deli, “Pockets bulging with $25,000 cash.  After pulling down the blinds, we proceeded to spread $10, $20, and $50 bills on the counters, floors and along the walls until the delicatessen owner’s eyes popped out.  This is one case where money talked and he couldn’t resist the offer.”

Axel Oellgard got a commission by playing Cupid in Scranton, Pennsylvania.  “Mrs. Kay” had just moved to the area when she asked Realtor Oellgaard to help her find a small place in the country.  He showed her a property “owned by an old retired soldier…he lived there alone.”  Before leaving, Mrs. Kay left her Realtor on the front porch while she took another quick look at the kitchen and talked to the owner.  Five minutes later they joined him on the porch and told him of their plans to marry.  The house would not be sold after all, but they gave Oellgaard his full commission and a $20 bonus.

A. I. Bradley, Cleveland Realtor, knew a thing or two about finding clients.  Pulled over for speeding, Bradley learned of the policeman’s house hunting difficulties.  The next day the officer bought a house shown to him by his new Realtor.

  1. Great story. Gave me the warm and fuzzies. NAR should reissue!

  2. Such cute stories. But even now, you can find clients in the most unusual places. If you keep your ears and heart open to what is going on around you.

  3. This is fascinating. As a Chicago real estate broker, it is very interesting to read historical accounts of real estate transactions. I am sure some analogies could be made between those accounts written around the Great Depression and those happening now in the Great Recession. We always heard about the people that lost money and the hardships, but many people made money. Just like the people now that are purchasing properties at historically low prices, and if financing, at historically low interest rates. It is a great time to buy real estate. Thanks for the look back to the past. I would like a post as to how we can get an entire copy of the booklet. Thank you.
    Alexis Eldorrado, Eldorrado Chicago Real Estate, 150 N. Michigan Ave., Suite 2800, Chicago, Iliniois 60601