O’Byrne Century 21 closes its doors

Published 9:57 am Monday, March 5, 2012

Hugh O’Byrne and Pam Schmidt stand in front of the Century 21 office on Friday. Schmidt will continue being a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker. -- Tim Engstrom/Albert Lea Tribune

After more than 40 years of selling real estate, Hugh O’Byrne is hanging up his hat.

“It’s time to retire” said Hugh O’Byrne. “It’s time to let the young ones take over.”

That means his real estate business is closing, too.

Hugh O’Bryne stops doing carpentry work Friday to peel the Century 21 sign off his business at 200 N. Broadway Ave.

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O’Byrne acquired his real estate license in 1971. He began his company in 1975 as Hugh O’Byrne Realty, which soon became Hugh O’Byrne Realty Gallery of Homes. He switched franchise names in the early 1980s, making his company Hugh O’Byrne Realty Century 21.

Since then, Albert Leans have seen the brown and yellow Century 21 signs all over the city.

O’Byrne said he had enjoyed selling homes and meeting people through his career — “It’s still satisfying to make a deal,” he said — but recent years have been tough for the real estate market.

“I need to quit. I need to enjoy life,” the 70-year-old said.

He wasn’t able to sell his real estate office, at 200 N. Broadway Ave. in the former Albert Lea City Hall. His auctioneering business will continue. He won’t be selling or listing houses, but he will retain his real estate license so he can continue to sell lots at the Wedgewood Cove and Sundance subdivisions.

Realtor Pam Schmidt will join the team at Coldwell Banker. Phiz Olson and Chris Vogt still will have realty licenses.

O’Byrne said he looks forward to spending more time with his seven grandchildren. Vogt is his daughter, married to Steve Vogt, and they have five children. Angie Kolker is his other daughter, married to Dan Kolker, and they have two children.

O’Byrne said he also will enjoy more time with his hobbies, such as monkeying with old tractors and taking his boat out.



About Tim Engstrom

Tim Engstrom is the editor of the Albert Lea Tribune. He resides in Albert Lea with his wife, two sons and dog.

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