Real estate has been in Barry Clark’s blood for more than five decades.
The 80-year-old Realtor is so passionate about his profession that he still goes to work every day at his office in Nanaimo, B.C. as president of Royal LePage Nanaimo Realty, which has been in business for 72 years. Clark has been with the company for 54 years.
It’s a job he simply loves to do.
And it all boils down to one simple thing – it’s a people business where forging relationships is critical to success. For more than 50 years, Clark has been doing that and he has become a fixture in the real estate industry on Vancouver Island.
“For me it comes down to the people, not only in the industry but the people that we deal with. It’s a people business. We started off selling shelter but now it’s more of a stock market-like thing. People like to make a profit on their home,” says Clark.
After being in the industry so long, Clark has some wisdom to share with younger salespeople about what it takes for someone to be successful in this industry.
“First, it’s integrity and treat people like you’d like to be treated. We’re only people. We’re human beings. And if you can’t treat people in a proper manner, then of course it’s not going to be to your benefit,” says Clark.
“And there is an appreciation with people buying the home they love. They have an appreciation of the guidance they’ve had and I find that’s very rewarding.”
Clark sees himself working in the industry for another five years.
“If you like what you do and you feel comfortable about it, of course you stick it out… I’m not staying because of the money. I’m staying because I like what I do and I like the people and I would miss that if I wasn’t working…When you get into that situation where you enjoy what you do, I don’t know why you wouldn’t continue as long as you’re healthy and everything’s fine with you.”
Clark was born in Southampton England and immigrated to Canada in 1954. He was the son of a navy man and because of that, the sea had a special attraction to him. Early in life he found jobs on tug boats, fish boats and ferry boats.
The sea can be an exciting and adventurous place, but it also can be a lonely one. After many months out on the water in various capacities, Clark decided to come back ashore and ended up working in a variety of roles – upholstery, truck driving, logging camps and as a bartender.
“I got to know a lot of Realtors because I was a bartender at the time. I wasn’t making very much money where I was and I had two children. So, I thought I was going to give this a whirl, which I did and I was fortunate to pass the exams,” says Clark.
He found his home right from the start as he embarked on his new professional career at Nanaimo Realty Company, founded by Frank Ney, a well-known and respected business leader in the community.
Looking back, Clark recalls how different the real estate industry was at that time. Technology was practically non-existent. The office telephone was the main tool of the trade. Realtors were employees of companies and worked on a 50/50 commission with the company.
Fast forward to today. It’s a completely different world in real estate. Technology has turned the real estate business into one that is instant: instant communication at your fingertips; instant data available to you. And social media has transformed the way we communicate.
“Now the people are more sophisticated – buyers and sellers. They’ve gone online. They’ve been told a lot of things. So, when they come to buy a house now they’ve already seen the ones that are of interest online. In the early days that didn’t happen, of course. We had to find the house for them,” says Clark.
Some of the people element of the business has been taken out of the industry because of that technological advancement, he says.
Over the years, more education for Realtors has also brought a more professional approach to the industry. And over the years, prices of properties have increased tremendously.
“Sometimes you wonder if they’re worth what the properties are being offered at. But you know, it’s what the buyers are ready, willing and able to pay for,” says Clark.
His career in real estate grew alongside the company’s growth. In 1999, it entered into a long-term franchise arrangement with Royal LePage.
“The company specialized in developments in the earlier days and we had 12 offices on the island but in the ’80s when there was a little bit of a crunch going on, we had to reduce. We’re down to three offices right now. One in Nanaimo, one in Ladysmith and one on Gabriola Island,” says Clark.
“We do residential, commercial and property management. We’ve had a very, very active market. It certainly now is starting to balance off because there have been some interruptions, first of all with the government tax on foreign buyers. Of course, interest rates and the mortgage stress test have also slowed it down a bit.”