John started out in real estate in 1967 – the year that Canada turned 100 – so, it seemed only fitting that the 73 year old received the Board’s highest and most prestigious honour during our centennial year as a professional association.
In fact, John has been serving clients longer than even the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board, as we’re known now, has been in existence. The real estate veteran first joined us when we were the Westminster County Real Estate Board, located in New Westminster.
Now, after 54 years, the member from RE/MAX Little Oak, Abbotsford, has joined a very select group. He is our 37th John Armeneau Professional of the Year and received the award in person, which we strive to keep top secret, at our March 11th virtual AGM.
We caught up with John Corrie after the AGM for an in-depth phone conversation about the award and his incredible career.
Q: We concocted a story regarding the Board’s 100th to get you to come all the way to the Board office from Abbotsford, but other than Board officers, you and your son, David, were the only members present at the AGM! Did our scheme work, were you surprised?
A: Yes, I was stunned. You got me good! I had no idea. I did wonder why my name was on a chair, but I thought that had something to do with COVID. My mind didn’t even go to the award, because, well, it’s just so important.
Q: What does this recognition mean to you?
A: It means everything. I’ve been in the business a long time. Like everyone, I’ve had my ups and downs, and made a few mistakes along the way. But, when I look back, I’ve had a terrific journey. And to be held in the same regard as John Armeneau – who I personally knew quite well and the other recipients, who I also have tremendous respect for; they’re all incredible people and Realtors – well, it’s a major achievement. It’s hard to put into words, which for me is saying something! It is very special and something I’ll remember forever.
Q: As you mentioned, you knew John personally… tell us about him.
A: I realize that due to the passage of time, for most of our members, he’s just a name. But, not to me. The Board couldn’t have chosen a finer person to name the award after. John was just so genuine. He was a complete gentleman with the kindest of smiles and always impeccably dressed. He was extremely knowledgeable. He had a tremendous ability to help young Realtors through a transaction – to teach them and coach them. He didn’t just do it to help them learn, but because he respected the value that Realtors bring to their clients.
We worked together, because John was in North Delta and I worked in Surrey until I moved east to Abbotsford. Years later, when his wife was ill, we’d meet for coffee at the Seven Oaks Mall. It was always such a pleasure to catch up. When John said, “it’s so good to see you” and gave you that smile, you knew he meant it.
“It’s not an easy business. Young people need to be given an opportunity.”
Q: You too have an incredible reputation as a mentor at RE/MAX Little Oak in Abbotsford. It’s one of the many reasons you were nominated for the award. How many Realtors have you mentored in the last five decades?
A: That’s almost impossible to answer because real estate has been my life’s work. I’ve always wanted to see everyone succeed. It’s not an easy business. Many experienced members don’t want to take the time to teach young, hard-working salespeople how to present offers, negotiate, or how to find business. In fact, they don’t even want to see young people come into the office! I don’t see it that way at all, and never have. Young people need to be given an opportunity. There are 25,000 Realtors in this province – there’s lots of room for all of us.
Q: Why is it important to you to help members who are just starting out?
A: It’s a fantastic business, but a difficult one. I didn’t succeed right off the bat. I was told in the late 60’s, “you’re not going to make it.” My office, at that time, didn’t feel I was worthy of training. So, I went to as many business courses as I could and tried to associate with professional Realtors who I could learn from.
Q: Did you have a specific teacher or mentor who influenced your career?
A: One of my first Brokers, Chuck Mitten. He was an amazing person. He told me I would be in business forever and I’d be successful if I simply lived by the Golden Rule and treated everyone how I wanted to be treated. He was right.
The most influential books and tapes I relied on were written by sales guru Tom Hopkins. I think many are still available in the Board library. I would recommend them to any new Realtor.
50 years: What has changed the most and what hasn’t
Q: Realizing that comparing real estate from 50 years ago to today is night and day… but, how has the profession changed the most?
A: Technology has changed the most. We didn’t have cell phones, computers – so no Paragon – we didn’t even have photocopiers! We sent telegrams. And, we often had to work until 1 am or 2 am to make offers and counter-offers driving back and forth to clients’ homes because you couldn’t reach many clients after 8 am when they went to work.
Another big change is that back then, there were very few women in real estate. Today, it’s a major benefit to the profession. As everyone knows, women are highly organized and are able to multi-task. I was a single parent for 18 years and that’s one of the reasons I respect women so much. I had to do it all for my two kids – make lunches, do laundry, go on school trips, support them – and being a Realtor allowed me to have a flexible schedule. In a regular job, I would never have been able to do it.
Q: What hasn’t changed?
A: Our value as Realtors. In fact, our value may be even higher now. We guide and protect people through the most important transaction in their lives. When I started, a little house in White Rock went for $3,000, and it was a lot of money back then. On the North Shore, homes sold for $40,000, an incredible amount of money! Today, few people can manage determining the right price, negotiating, and writing contracts on their own. I don’t see this ever changing.
“We are in the business of service. It’s not about the transaction.”
Q: Unfortunately, Realtors don’t have the best public image, why is that and what’s the fix?
A: Our public image bothers me. But, sometimes that criticism has been fair. There are “bad apples”, Realtors who only see a transaction as dollar bills, instead of what is really is, which is helping people. I tell young people I work with, “we are here to help the clients. If all you’re interested in is the sale, then you’re in the wrong profession.” I have always strived to give my clients the best service possible, whether they are selling an $80,000 manufactured home or a $5 million dollar acreage.
Words of wisdom for those beginning their real estate career
Q: What do you advise members just starting out?
A: Be organized. Use technology. Get proper training. I would have done better at the beginning if I had more training then. I know a lot of Realtors who were hugely successful and then failed because they didn’t keep learning. As well, I’d recommend that young Realtors find a mentor. A mentor who helps you with both work and personal life goals to keep you on track. Life balance is important. Too many Realtors wish they had spent more time with their family, and I agree. There are times when I wish I could have balanced my schedule better.
Q: If you could do it all over again, would you do anything differently?
A: I wouldn’t change a thing. I love real estate. I got into it by chance. My mother bought and sold real estate, and it interested me. I was going to enroll at UBC first and try real estate after. It just so happened, a Realtor was holding an open house at our home and we started talking. He encouraged me to take the real estate course first. I did and never went to UBC.
I’ve been very fortunate, and I’ve also had the opportunity to see my son, David, find his own success in our profession. I get to work alongside him. I’ve watched as he has set his own goals, trained, and worked hard. I’ve observed the incredible level of service he’s given to our clients. Most of our business is referrals. Once you have your clients’ trust, you must keep working hard so as not to lose it.
Q: What are your goals now; what could be left?
A: My goals now are to keep doing the best I can to continue to help people, stay healthy, and enjoy my family. I have eleven grandchildren who I want to spend as much time with as possible. I have one more course to complete before my licence comes up for renewal in June. I think I can see myself doing this until I’m 80. Why not keeping doing what you enjoy?
Source: FVREB Communications