When the real estate office was a tent

DEL MAR — Much of the water cooler palaver these days is about real estate in the city and the fact it hasn’t been affected too much price-wise by the ups and downs experienced elsewhere. It still is in the modest $1 million or $2 million bracket.
Old timers recall when vacant land was going for as much as $500 for a nice hunk of real estate and there was a great selection either on the beach or hillside without a view because of the greenery.
Realtors included Luke Kibler whose wife, Nae, was the postmaster. A few doors south on Highway 101, Ernie Marin and E. C. Batchelder were the “go to” guys for really good deals. Batchelder was Col. Ed Fletcher’s brother-in-law, so his territory was limited to the village since the Colonel owned most of North County. Well, almost all of it. Batchelder’s son, Clark, was an outside salesman whose real interest was in champion show horses.
Then there were the weekend salesmen. A tent was erected on the corner of l2th Street and Stratford Court. Their inventory included all the vacant land plus some homes. These were available for no money down and modest monthly payments, sort of like today’s Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac but without government involvement. Complimentary snacks and beverages were provided that included cheese and bologna sandwiches, potato chips, and pickles — dill or sweet. Kids came uninvited but welcomed.
Dr. Dick Wheelock, now retired on the hill, recalls a salesman who sold real estate out of the back of a pickup truck. A portable 4-foot-by-8-foot sign read “real estate.”
Like the gas stations that were on every corner before I-5 wiped out their business, real estate offices began popping up (no tents or trucks) as the world discovered the village as a great place to live. But now a down payment is the norm. And bologna sandwiches are no longer provided as prospects peruse the availabilities.

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