Barkers have a new partner
Warren Sacks, who entered the real-estate business just a decade ago, recently accepted a 20 percent minority interest in Barker Realty| Christie’s International Real Estate. Formerly the firm’s vice president, he is also now its chief operations officer. The company, started nearly 50 years ago by Laughlin Barker, is headed by David and Lisa Barker, who bought it in 1985. They retain control. At the announcement made during a company party on Dec. 12, the owners made it clear to their brokers and staff that David Barker is not retiring.
“Warren is great in operations and he brings a young, energetic enthusiasm and a lot of in-depth knowledge about internet, computer technology and systems,” David Barker said. “It just really strengthens what we’re doing here in our company, because it’s all about our customers, and our customers are our associate brokers and their buyers and sellers.”
In an interview, Lisa Barker recalled that Sacks came to the company straight out of college. “His father, Rudy Sacks, who is our tax attorney, asked if we’d consider giving himan internship. I said, ‘Rudy, I’ve never had an intern before. I don’t knowwhat to do with a 20-year-old kid.’
“Warren showed up his first day in a suit and I told him to go home and change and I had him clean out the basement,” she said. “Then I ordered 60 new desk chairs, which came disassembled in boxes and his next task was to put them all together.” Sacks worked the front desk for a time and later became licensed. Just before the autumn 2008 crash, he ran The Alameda condo project that Barker Realty listed.
“In 2008, we brought Warren into our management fold,” she said. “He just over those years showed such tremendous management and operational capacity, it was a no-brainer. Now we have this sort of knight in shining armor with the technological, cutting-edge, innovative knowledge of somebody who’s 30, and our 35-year veteran Merlin, David. It makes for the most dynamic management scenario in the marketplace.”
The firm’s owners met in Santa Fe when Barker Realty was housed at Radio Plaza on Marcy Street. Lisa, originally from San Francisco, was working for KTRC Radio. David is a fourth-generation Santa Fean. His great-grandfather, N.B. Laughlin, ran out of money in Santa Fe while traveling on horseback from Texas to Colorado and went on to serve on the supreme court for the Territory of New Mexico. He began investing in real estate in the early 1900s. David’s father, Laughlin Barker, was a U.S. Navy aviator for two decades before starting out in the real-estate industry.
At the beginning of this millennium, Barker Realty had about 20 agents. Today there are 45— still in line with a desire expressed by the couple in a 1999 profile in this magazine to maintain the company at a medium size. But it is growing. In 2012, the realty, located in the historic Gross Kelly Warehouse on Guadalupe Street, expanded at the south end, adding 15 desks. The following year, Barker affiliated with Christie’s, increasing its listings visibility to high-end, international clientele. Now the company is poised to undertake an expansion that will give it another 10 desks. “We are expanding into the space at the north end of the building that now has Station Coffee,” Lisa Barker said. “They have many loyal customers, including people who use the Rail Runner, and it was a hard decision to make. People are saddened. We tried to find them another space in this building.”
Barker Realty used to have that space and added an interior wall to create room for tenant Station Coffee. The remodel will begin on Jan. 1.
“We are growing and I think that is due in part to some of the more innovative things we have provided our brokers with,” she said. One is the transactions coordinator the firm brought on to handle all of the detail work after a property goes under contract. And just last month, Barker also hired a listings coordinator, who handles all the details of a new listing, including marketing forms, getting signs in the ground, and finishing up paperwork. “When I started in the business,” David Barker remembered, “the purchase agreement, which was the memorandum of contract, was one page. Nowwe have a purchase agreement that’s about 15 pages long, with all kinds of disclosures and information sheets and requirements imposed by the Real Estate Commission and the City of Santa Fe; it just goes on an on.”
He said the Sacks promotion “was a natural. No, it’s not a controlling interest in the company, but it’s a significant portion and nobody’s more deserving than Warren, with the dedication, the hard work, and the changes he’s helped us make. I think it’s going to help us become a much stronger, better company.”
Asked if the recent changes will allow him to relax a little, Barker responded, “No, this is about what we can provide that’s more effective for our associate brokers. It’s ramping up the game.”
Warren Sacks (left) with Lisa and David Barker