The 23rd Annual Kachemak Board of Realtors holiday party and auction, which was held in December at Wasabi’s, raised $7,000 for local charities and scholarships. New board members also were installed, and awards were given to three local agents.
John Calhoun received a Lifetime Achievement award for 15 years of excellence in service as a member of the real estate community. Calhoun, who has lived in Homer since 1978, made the decision to retire from the real estate business last spring; his retirement became official Dec. 31.
“I do want to say ‘thank you’ to everybody for the award,” he said, adding that it feels nice to be appreciated by his peers.
The idea of retiring wasn’t a new one, but Calhoun said he didn’t commit to it until he spent eight days in the hospital with emphysema last May. Having health issues helped him put life in perspective, said Calhoun, and he’s ready to spend more time with his wife of 22 years, Mary, enjoying their life in Homer.
Calhoun said he became a real estate agent at the age of 56 as a bit of an experiment. In 2000, the construction company he worked for closed down. He didn’t want to go to work out of town, and two of his friends, John Kosch and Mike Morris, both sold real estate. He asked them if he should try it and was told “Yes” with a lot of encouragement.
“I needed a job — and it seemed like something I could do,” said Calhoun, who is also a former Homer mayor.
Calhoun was a bit apprehensive about the sales aspect of his new job. His prior experience in sales consisted of pedaling tomatoes door to door in Kansas when he was 12 years old — a quarter of a bushel for one dollar.
“But, the experience was great,” he said of selling real estate.
Every day was different, from the properties he sold to the people he worked with. It felt good to sell a property for someone, or to help someone else find the property they wanted to buy.
One memorable challenge was a property he sold to someone who wanted to be off the grid and “way out in the boondocks.”
Three months after closing, the owner called him up and said that a gate had been put across the road.
Calhoun researched the property, and found the route he had shown the client was not a legal access, but crossed private property. The real platted access would require tens of thousands of dollars to develop. But, there was an easement with an alternative gate access.
He called up his customer and gave them the information, then told them that if they were unhappy about it, he would buy the property from them.
“I would rather have that than somebody who said they got cheated,” he said.
The person declined his offer, and was content with the new access.
Calhoun credits his work ethic to great employers he had through the years, whose good ethics got to be second nature to him. He said he also applies what he knows as a Christian to how he does business.
“You want to be able to see the person you sold something to at the grocery store and not be afraid to ask them how they are enjoying their property,” he said.
Calhoun began his career at ReMax, but soon moved to Bay Realty, where he met a new agent, Chris Story. After about a year of working together, he stopped by Story’s desk and said that someday, when Story started his own office, he wanted to go with him.
About seven years later, Story asked if he still wanted to come with him. The answer was “yes” and Calhoun spent the remaining eight years of his career at Story Real Estate.
Unlike most retirees, Calhoun said that he and his wife have no plans to travel. He estimates that in the last 15 years they’ve been to Anchorage four times.
Now that he is done working for pay, Calhoun plans to spend more time tending his small farmstead. Gardens, three horses and, most recently, honeybees make up the work. He’s also finishing a Formula 1 model race car, which will be followed by a sailing ship that his wife gave him at Christmas.
Receiving the award for excellence at the annual Christmas party acknowledged the close of Calhoun’s real estate career.
“It’s a bittersweet thing, leaving real estate,” he said.
Toni Ross is a Homer writer.