BERRYVILLE – If you love what you do, stick with it, says real estate agent Jim Barb.
But 50 years is a long time for anyone to have a single career. Studies show that the average length of stay nowadays is only 4½ to 5 years.
Barb enjoys observing different living styles, working with different people and never having two days exactly the same. That is what makes his business fun and keeps him going.
Houses used to be simply built, and some are still. However, over the years, homes have adopted more complex architectural designs that cater to the desires of certain buyers. People no longer just want a roof over their heads, but also a certain external and internal appearance that they like, and amenities that make their daily lives more comfortable and efficient.
Comfort turns a house into a home. And houses today are “a lot easier to live in” than those built decades ago, Barb said.
His daily itinerary often includes meeting with various clients and consulting with various contractors, inspectors, financial lenders, and others involved in the home buying and selling process.
Because of the variety of people and tasks he encounters, “I never get bored,” he said with a smile.
Despite being born in the old Winchester Hospital, Barb sees himself as a Clarke County native who moved to the county at a young age. He is a graduate of Clarke County High School.
He began his career as a federal government computer analyst at the Mount Weather Emergency Operations Center on the Clarke-Loudoun border. At this point, computers were taking up enormous amounts of memory and processing even simple commands slowly.
“I’m on the tech thing,” said Barb. For example, he mentioned the technology that is now allowing buyers to view potential homes online. Although many people still prefer to visit homes in person, the virtual demonstrations have helped immensely for home buyers during the COVID-19 pandemic, he said.
“I think it will stay,” he added.
He spent his days pushing buttons on Mount Weather and longed to work in the community and be with people other than his colleagues.
Barb became interested in real estate affairs in his youth after his father bought a farm on Parshall Road (Route 608) in 1948. With part of the land being divided up and sold to others, he helped install the surveying stakes.
“When you grow up on a farm, you develop an appreciation for the land,” he said. Plus, “I have an appreciation for houses. It all came together, I guess.”
80-year-old Barb entered the real estate business after receiving his license in 1971.
“I started working on it and I found out that I really liked it,” he said.
But as his business grew he felt like he had two full-time jobs.
“I knew I had to give up something,” said Barb.
He decided to slide down the mountain. He went into the real estate industry full time in 1978.
Forty-three years later, Jim Barb Realty Inc. employs 12 people at its headquarters on West Main Street in Berryville and a satellite office in Millwood Pike, Winchester.
The staff recently threw Barb a party to celebrate his half century milestone.
One of his employees is his wife Margaret. You have been married for 58 years. She joined the company in 1985.
He has no intention of slowing down, let alone retiring, as long as he remains in good health.
Three and a half pages of his four-page résumé lists numerous professional and civic associations in which Barb has been involved over the years, as well as some awards he has received. Among these awards, he was named Broker of the Year by the Blue Ridge Association of Realtors in 1983 and CRB (Certified Real Estate Brokerage Manager) of the year by the Virginia Association of Realtors in 1996.
In his free time he devoted himself to community service as well as his career. Last year, the Berryville City Council honored Barb for nearly 30 years on the Berryville Architectural Review Board. In 2019 he was honored by the Clarke County Board of Supervisors for nearly 20 years on the county’s Economic Development Advisory Committee.
In addition, Barb served on the Clarke County School Board from 1981 to 1985 and served on the county’s Equalization Board in 2002. He has been a member of the Clarke County Lions Club since 1969, having served as its president in 1982.
He has three daughters, seven grandchildren and four great-grandchildren; his degrees from Shenandoah and Shepherd Colleges, as they were called in the 1960s; and his six months of active service and 5½ years in the US Army National Guard Reserves during that decade.
“I tried to take part in it as much as possible,” said Barb.
Clarke County is a special place, he believes, because it’s a rural oasis in the midst of a sea of urban development in the surrounding areas.
He predicts that Clarke’s population will grow as more people can do their home work on the internet.
Newer residents “come here because they want to get out of these urban areas” and go somewhere more peaceful, Barb said. “A much better quality of life is what people are looking for today.”
In return, there is strong demand for local homes, which is driving up prices and property values.
According to his company’s website, the median house value of Berryville is $ 430,745 and that of Clarke is $ 402,500. Those numbers are well above the nationwide average of $ 277,796.
Barb noted that two new subdivisions are under construction in Berryville and expects more housing to be built in the county, especially in areas served by public water and sewer systems.
He’ll be happy to sell it to families if he gets the chance.
Measures to control growth – such as B. Zoning on a sliding scale and conservation measures – should, however, prevent the county from becoming too urbanized, he said.