Dave Procter says his 40-year-long real estate career started as somewhat of a fluke.
The managing broker of Re/Max Ocean Pacific Realty in Vancouver Island’s Comox Valley was home sick recovering from a fairly serious operation, getting bored while watching TV and reading books. His Realtor father asked, “Why don’t you take the real estate course instead of sitting around and doing nothing?”
The course “really piqued my interest” and Procter left his job in a paper mill to work briefly at Nanaimo Realty, where his dad worked, before working as an agent at Block Brothers, which later became National Real Estate Services.
Flash forward to 2018 and Procter’s Re/Max Ocean Pacific Realty has won the Re/Max top transaction award for Canada and Western Canada for two years. He has sold more than 3,000 properties since acquiring the brokerage in 1986.
It has a 55.1 per cent market share in Comox Valley and a 40 per cent share in Campbell River, Procter says.
“I have a number of high-achieving agents in my office,” says Procter. There are 73 sales reps in the Comox and Courtenay offices and 32 in a Campbell River office. These include Ronni Lister, who has won the Western Canada top transaction award for two straight years as an agent. Per capita “we probably have some of the highest-producing people in the system,” Procter says.
He was part of a team of four people who bought the franchise 32 years ago, but over the years the others sold their shares and left, leaving him recently as sole owner and operator. He’s been slowly transitioning away from selling – handling only long-term clients – and into the managing broker role.
“It’s been a learning curve because I’ve always been a selling agent,” says Procter, who has lived in the Comox Valley his entire life.
One of the new challenges, he admits, is dealing with new real estate legislation in B.C. since June 15 that, among other things, bans double-enders – working with both the buyer and seller of a property.
The rules were “brought in almost by way of a shotgun. We didn’t have time to train or get ready for it or really know what we were getting ourselves into,” he says. The changes have been “so time consuming” that he’s had to hire another full-time employee to help out with the paperwork. “It’s overwhelming.”
The legislation has “put Realtors at the level of what a qualified lawyer has to know,” he says. Realtors are dealmakers and “were never put into position to be a lawyer.”
Procter says fines attached to the new rules are too high and, as a result, he’s lost several experienced agents who find the risk-reward ratio too high. Four agents in Campbell River and three in Courtenay left his agency, largely as a result of the legislation, leaving him eight to 10 agents short.
Procter says many younger people are interested in becoming agents, but for those working full-time elsewhere, the transition from salaried jobs to commissions can be difficult. Since there are no real apprentice programs to let the agents get full training, Procter has set up his own training and mentoring program.
The housing market covered by Re/Max Ocean Pacific Realty is “pretty strong,” with average sale prices of $525,000 in the Comox Valley and about $475,000 in Campbell River. Homes selling for $550,000 and under are seeing a lot of action while activity for those priced at more than $750,000 has slowed, he says.
With house prices a fraction of those in Vancouver, the area is attracting young retirees from Vancouver who can buy mortgage-free, Procter says.
On the negative side, a proposed speculation tax on seasonal properties could hurt sales from out-of-province buyers.
He notes the area does not have many high-tech, high-paying jobs. Major employers include the Canadian Forces Base in Comox and Mount Washington ski resort. A pulp and paper mill in Campbell River shut down about 10 years ago.
In his spare time, Procter fixes old cars. He rebuilt a 1973 Triumph TR6, turning three cars into one, and a 1991 911 Porsche Cabriolet, both of which he drives during the summer. “I like working on older cars because they’re very simple,” with no computers.
He’s also an avid downhill skier and cyclist. In 2010, as part of his 50th birthday celebration, Procter cycled across Canada in 65 days – from Victoria to Halifax – and raised $40,000 for breast cancer research in B.C. His former partner and his kids accompanied him in a motor home. (Procter has three children: Chase, 21, Miles, 29, and Bryanne, 31.)
His agency is heavily involved in charitable work, including for You are Not Alone (YANA), a Comox Valley organization that provides support to families with sick children who need to travel for medical services.
When Procter became engaged to his partner Janine Martin in February, he announced Sept. 22 as his wedding date. When he told his 86-year-old mother, she reminded him that the day marked the second anniversary of his father’s passing. But she urged him to keep the wedding date and gave him his dad’s wedding ring that she’d been wearing since he died.
Procter credits his father as being instrumental in his success. “My dad was hard-working, goals orientated and quite dedicated and a lot of the qualities my dad instilled in me really pushed me further.”
Four decades into his career, “I’m really enjoying it. I like that every day there’s something new.”