Jack Owens, with NAI Charleston, understands the deep significance of being named Commercial Realtor® of the Year by the Charleston Trident Association of Realtors® (CTAR).
In fact, Owens was told that a friend was receiving the award when he trudged back to the ceremony from a trip out of town in old corduroys and a faded shirt. He was shocked when he was recognized with the award. “I caught a lot of guff for being the worst-dressed person in the room,” he laughs.
Jack Owens doesn’t ordinarily catch guff. His 32-year career in Charleston’s commercial real estate scene has created life-long friendships out of former clients. His career spans the rebirth of Charleston, and he’s had a hand in many of the developments that have contributed.
Owens has sold properties downtown and shopping centers on IOP, land for an apartment building and for what is now Seaside Farms. He sold the dilapidated American Theatre to Charles and Celeste Patrick, who returned it to its iconic condition.
“I’m proud of what Charleston has become,” he says. As a student at College of Charleston in the mid 70s, Owens says you throw a rock while standing on corner of George and King on a Saturday at noontime and not hit anyone. “Ten years later I’m selling real estate and Charleston was boarding up. Mayor Riley deserves credit for changing that, and I rode his coattails. Having been born and raised here, I believe Charleston has never been better.”
In 2000, Owens earned his CCIM designation, one of just six percent of commercial real estate practitioners to do so. CCIM members take continuing education to stay informed about changes in the industry, from tax laws to finances and everything in between. He says it’s one of the smartest things he has done for his clients.
Jack Owens has thrived through the ups and downs of the real estate market, though even previous recessions didn’t prepare him for the big one. In other downturns, one segment would go soft, so he would focus on another. It broadened his portfolio and skillset. During the Great Recession, everything went sour at once.
At least he was prescient enough to see the bubble growing and stop buying properties about four years before it burst. “I looked foolish for a while but I’m glad I did that. Thank goodness for fear,” he says.
With business dried up, Owens switched to his second vocation – community service. He joined Reading with Realtors®, mentoring three elementary school students once a week for an hour at James Simons Elementary School, a Title One school. He stayed with one girl from third grade until she left for middle school. She recently invited him to her graduation from Burke High, on her way to South Carolina State University.
“I really did see improvement in her skills and the other kids’ too,” he recalls. “It’s the best thing I’ve ever done. That right there was worth all the dues I’ve paid to CTAR.”