Granddaughter of Realtor opens real estate office in Elk River to carry out the lessons learned as youth

by Jim Boyle

Editor

There’s a new real estate office in town, but it’s led by a familiar name in the business.

Ellie Christian, who became a fourth-generation Realtor eight years ago when she began selling homes, held a grand opening of Ellie’s Home Team, at 953 Fourth St. NW in Elk River.

She and a team of three other real estate agents — Bobbi Melcher, Alyssa Johnson and Abby Newland — are officed in the remodeled residence that long served the community as the Abba crisis pregnancy center.

She joins a host of Christians who grew up in the area that have stayed in the area and developed successful careers in real estate, including her brother, Chad; mother Linda Christian; father Bill Christian; and step-mother Deanna Christian, among others.

The 34-year-old Elk River woman and 2006 graduate of Elk River High School plans to make a name for herself using the same principles employed by her grandfather, the late Chuck Christian, who opened his first realty office in 1971 in Dayton.

There’s family videos of Chuck and Ellie when she was a young girl, and he was encouraging her as a child to work in real estate.

“Instead of singing her bedtime stories, he was telling her how great of an agent she would be,” said Bill Christian, Chuck’s son and Ellie’s father.

After graduating from high school, Ellie tried to find her way in college out in Denver, Colorado, but nothing took root and she later returned and tried her hand a restaurant management and bartending.

Chuck never let the dream of her being in real estate die. It was he who lent her the money to get licensed as a real estate agent.

She sold six homes in her first six months on the job and discovered how good it felt to help people realize their dream of home ownership and/or find their dream home. But that’s only part of the equation, as she learned from her family members, especially Chuck, who would bring her along to community events and have her help raise money for good causes when she was just 10 years old.

Chuck came from humble beginnings on a family farm in Rogers, and built a career in real estate after he founded Christian Realty and Christian Builders in the early 1970s. He transformed that success into numerous avenues of community outreach, such as being a charter member of the Rogers Lions Club and serving as a Rogers Rotary Club President; the first Dayton Fire Chief; Three Rivers Community Foundation founding member and board member; Guardian Angels senior center board member; ROADS Education Foundation board member; and Rogers Toastmaster member.

“He was so involved,” Ellie said. “I want to run my business the way he did. I want to grow with the community. I want to be a resource for the community. I want to leave a legacy like he did.”

Chuck Christian was a charter member of the Three Rivers Community Foundation. He was also there in 1994 when it gave out its first grant to the community. TRCF had raised $118,445 by then.

“And now it’s over $1 million in an endowment,” said Ellie Christian, who gives of her time to the foundation and the Otsego Lions, where she is a charter member.

Bill Christian says his daughter is definitely a chip off the old block when it comes to comparisons of her and her grandfather.

“She brings a passion to the business,” Bill Christian said. “I’m very proud of her and Chad and her accomplishments.

“She’s involved and gives back. Dad was one that felt that was important to give back to community that helped make you successful.”

After Chuck Christian started Christian Realty in 1971, he recruited his mother, Ella Christian, to work in sales for the company. Rollie Christian, one of his brothers, also started working for the firm.

The office moved to Rogers in 1974, and then Christian Builders was founded. Chuck’s brother Jeff Christian also got into the family business.

When the firm started, Christian Realty sold farmland and smaller parcels of land. As it grew it branched out into home sales, including new and used, lot sales and new construction, remodeling, additions, investments and commercial construction.

When Chuck Christian was developing his business, he found people in the Elk River area and Rogers to be the salt of the earth.

Sons Bill’s and Charlie’s entry into the firm came in about 1980 to make it three generations of Christians to work in the real estate business. Others would follow, includeing Chad and Ellie who make it four generations of Christians in the real estate business. In addition to being a licensed Realtor, Chad also is a sales rep for Christian Builders.

Road to real estate

Ellie Christian was born in November 1987 to Bill and Linda Christian. She lived in Otsego at first and later moved to Elk River. She attended grade school in Rogers and high school in Elk River.

She has collected newspaper clippings chronicling the family’s real estate business side of things and even more on their community involvement.

One clipping she’s particularly fond of shows her father, Bill Christian, working on a home that was built in Elk River to raise money for the youth D.A.R.E. program (Drug Abuse Resistance Education).

Bill says he will never forget that experience.

“It was amazing to see the community come together like that,” he said. “It was the trades, local business and people in the community who just showed up with a hammer and asked how they could help.”

The farmer who owned the land where Trott Brook Farms now sits brought a pig, which was taken over to Elk River Meats to prepare for a pig roast to serve the volunteers.

Ellie, with her family’s support, took a leap of faith to try out real estate as well at the urging of her grandfather Chuck.

“It seemed like it would be the thing for me,” she said.

It was.

The Sept. 29 grand opening can be offered up as proof. It attracted family, friends and the Elk River-area business community. The Elk River Area Chamber of Commerce performed a ceremonial ribbon cutting. The event was toasted with champagne and desserts and there were prize giveaways.

“I am really humbled that you all made it today,” Ellie Christian said before the ceremony.

She praised her family for all their support and thanked the community for coming out.

“Now I get the honor of working alongside my entire immediate family in real estate,” she said.

Her dad said it’s unusual to have a large family stay so close to home, and because they did, community feels more like family than community.

“It’s competitive, but I think we found our niche,” Bill Christian said. “It’s about the relationships we built.”

Had he still been alive, Chuck Christian would have had tears of joy on Sept. 29.

“He would have been the ultimate proud grandfather.”

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