Real estate broker

Northern Ireland bombing brought real estate broker Ian Black to Sarasota

As Ian Black sat in his office in a suburb of Belfast, Northern Ireland in the early 1980s, he knew he was in trouble.

Black said there might have been a warning phone call, but he doesn’t remember it.

But what he will never forget is an old brown car pulling up to his real estate office.

“Some guy stops the car, gets out and runs like hell,” Black said.

In Northern Ireland, it was illegal to leave a car unattended in shopping areas or locations called control areas. Black anticipated an explosion, so he emptied his office.

“I come home and hear a huge explosion,” he said. “The phone is ringing. The police. ‘Mr. Black, you must come down.’ The office has been razed. “

He had already thought of leaving the Troubles in his home country. For years her home had been devastated by constant conflict between Protestants and Catholics in a civil war that would extend into the late 1990s.

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The bombing of his office prompted him to leave.

In the end, the loss of Northern Ireland was that part of the gain of the Gulf Coast.

Black spent over 20 years working at various commercial real estate companies in Sarasota before opening his own office in 2003, Ian Black Real Estate, today one of the largest commercial brokerage and property management firms in the region.

While in Sarasota, Black provided expert advice on properties across the region to buyers and sellers, served on advisory boards to local government, and volunteered with local businesses and philanthropic organizations. .

Howard Davis, a client and friend of Black, called Black “the true embodiment of the American success story”.

Davis recently sold the BOTA Center at 1570 Boulevard of the Arts in the Rosemary neighborhood using Black as a broker.

One thing that Davis says distinguishes a good real estate broker is the ability to listen to the client.

In this transaction, Davis took an old Baker’s Badcock furniture store showroom built over 60 years ago that had been vacant for over a decade and invested significant capital into a building of award-winning offices.

Black had located two Miami investment firms as potential buyers. They calculated the figures for the 17,000 square foot fully leased building and came up with an offer based largely on the revenue that can be generated from the rental of the office space.

Davis could not accept any of these offers.

“I told Ian that the person who bought this property is going to have to like the building,” he said. “Not just someone who works out the numbers.”

In a relatively short period of time after the first offers arrived, Black called back.

“He said, ‘I think I have your guy,’” Davis said.

The property sold for $ 4.35 million shortly thereafter in June of this year.

“Anyone can put up a sign and take calls,” Davis said. “It takes a different kind of person to listen.”

Years of training

Black’s grandfather, a Jewish immigrant from Poland, moved to Belfast.

When his grandfather moved to Northern Ireland he did not speak English, but eventually opened a store, Black said.

Ultimately, his father, a businessman, will turn the family business into a successful furniture store.

He said life in Belfast before 1969 was idyllic. Jews mingled freely with Catholics and Protestants. He says he had a good childhood.

Black didn’t always want to be in real estate.

He said he originally thought he would be a dentist, but after failing a University of London entrance exam – something that surprised Black as he thought he had a solid academic background – he spent a year working in his father’s business.

“I didn’t know what I wanted to do,” he said.

During that year his father was selling a property with real estate firm Brian Morton & Co. and encouraged Black to see if real estate might be for him.

Black remembers walking into the real estate company’s office and being captivated by what he saw.

“It was the activity,” he said. “I could not believe it.”

He started there in the mid-1960s and was paid three pounds a week.

In 1972, the director of the company decided he wanted to retire. Black, now in his mid-twenties, was one of six who pooled about 150,000 pounds to buy the business.

At that time in Belfast, Black said, a paramilitary group had taken over a power plant and electricity was being rationed. The streets were often blocked and bombardments were frequent.

Still, he thought the purchase of the business was a good opportunity.

“We were young,” he said. “When you’re young it’s a different story … The next 10 years were the formative years of my real estate career.”

Black helped build Brian Morton & Co. from two offices in 1972 to 22 offices when he decided to move to the Sarasota area in 1982.

“We have always been the leaders,” he said. “We were always at the forefront of technology.

He said his group has introduced several techniques that have become standard practice over the years in real estate businesses, including being one of the first users to use computers to track transactions.

Choose Sarasota

Black said he considered moving to Florida after seeing an advertisement in the Belfast Telegram. He first visited California, then the east coast of Florida. Neither seemed to fit well.

Her brother, who had previously moved to Toronto, Canada, vacationed on Longboat Key.

Black got in touch with a local agent and Sarasota felt good.

By 1982, Sarasota was less developed than the east coast of Florida, and Black liked that “green fields” could be accessed with a short drive.

He also befriended David Nash, another immigrant from the UK.

Nash was then working for development company Taylor Woodrow, which would later develop The Meadows near Sarasota County.

“It’s one of those friendships where you maybe don’t see yourself for three or four months, but when you do, you pick up where you left off,” Nash said.

Nash said he and Black have worked on several different projects over the years.

Black has a relaxed approach to trading, but he can be intense when needed. But one of his most valuable assets is his honesty, Nash said.

“If that doesn’t make sense, he’ll tell you,” he said.

Ian Black and Marci Marsh, partners at Ian Black Real Estate, opened their business in 2003 in a small office on 10th Street near downtown Sarasota.  The business has grown over the years and now operates from an office located at 1 S. School Avenue.

Steady growth

Marci Marsh, a partner at Ian Black Real Estate, worked with Black before they split up and created the commercial real estate company in 2003.

Marsh manages the property management portion of the business. At the time, the company managed less than 50,000 square feet of commercial real estate. Today, she says, the company manages 1.3 million square feet.

Black and Marsh started in a small office just off 10th Street near downtown. They were the only two employees of the company. She said the business has experienced “steady growth”.

The trading brokerage has about 120 active listings, according to the company’s website. There are about 15 commercial agents and just under 10 full-time employees now.

When asked why Black did not immediately start his own commercial real estate company, given his experience as a partner in Northern Ireland’s largest real estate company, Black said he wanted to first learn the region.

“I’ve seen so many people come from other parts of the United States and I think they could do it better than the people here,” he said. “I wanted to make sure I had a good understanding of the area.”

Black said the time had come in 2003 to “hang your own shingle” in Sarasota.

“There is no substitute for time. You have to keep your head down and do what you’re good at and eventually people will call you. “

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