Jim Barnhart began his real estate career in a small boutique brokerage in La Jolla, California in 1970, after graduating from San Diego State University with a degree in Real Estate and International Marketing. He had previously attended the University of Vienna, became fluent in German, and expected to embark on a business career in Europe. But the Vietnam War altered the future of many high-achieving young men of that generation. To avoid the inevitable draft he enlisted in Army Intelligence and served his country as an undercover agent handler in both Vietnam and later Germany.
After his return to San Diego, he married Nancy and moved off the grid and into a spiritually focused yoga commune outside of Nevada City, CA. With the birth of two daughters and expanding responsibilities, Jim and Nancy bought 14 acres of homesteading land in the Sierra Nevada foothills community where simple living and spiritual values were a strong and respected subculture. Jim’s natural love of the land brought him real estate success and he established his own brokerage serving the tide of “back to the land” clients who were shifting from California’s urban areas into environmentally sensitive communities. Working with like-minded families, as well as nationally known yogis, Buddhists, rock stars, poets and politicians, Jim’s business grew from rustic cabins to rural estates and large retreats. His focus was always on a built environment that could support the well-being of the human spirit.
Living as 19th century homesteaders was gratifying but limiting in contrast to the exciting promises of the vibrant 20th century! After Nancy obtained a Master’s Degree in counseling, they opened the world back up for themselves and their children by moving to Eugene in 1987. Chosen for its remarkable balance in qualities, consciousness, and educational values, this community appeared large enough for opportunities, yet small enough for mindful living. It proved to be a good fit!
Their daughters, Taj and Sky, attended South Eugene High and went on to the University of Oregon, while Jim and Nancy took their real estate partnership to a new level with the opening of Barnhart Associates Real Estate in 1993. The company quickly became the top boutique brokerage in Eugene, earning the #1 ranking in average production per agent, year after successful year.
As owner/broker, Jim established himself as a respected leader in the real estate community holding professional positions and serving as president of the Multiple Listing Service in 1999. Meanwhile, Nancy used her uncommon skills as psychologist, writer and intuitive marketing strategist to brand and promote their company. She became the company’s graphic designer and early webmaster, creating a niche of superior client-based local service that withstood the onslaught of big-box real estate corporations.
In 2004, the Barnharts brought in David Holland, a successful commercial broker, to become a business partner. The team launched a new venture in 2005– the opening of Barnhart Associates Real Estate Hawai’i in Lahaina, Maui. The Hawai’i office came about through a long relationship with the islands for the Barnharts. Both daughters settled on Maui with their young families, and Taj (a licensed Realtor in California and Hawai’i) managed the business. But the timing of the island-style venture was not fortuitous, and the dream faded as the Maui market crashed.
Nancy retired in 2007 and the Barnharts sold the company and its historic Craftsman building (E. 14th Ave. & Pearl Street) to partner David. Jim remained on as a full-time broker until 2015. At that time David chose to close the doors and take a new personal direction, and Jim moved from his dear, but now departed, namesake company to a position at the “rising star” of Eugene’s residential real estate market, Equinox Real Estate. Owners Ron and Bess Blacquiere are younger brokers infused with energy and, in some kind of fascinating cosmic synchronicity, share many of the values that fueled the success of Barnhart Associates. Jim is once again at home! Now with 45 years of experience in all phases of real estate and development, he continues to enjoy the energy of the marketplace and the satisfaction of bringing people to properties that fulfill their dreams. It is an occupation that nourishes his metaphysical, environmental, and architectural interests while providing clients with the benefits of his unusually broad expertise.
Our community attracts many sensitive people drawn to the overall quality of life. There is a comfortable authenticity to Eugene that helps to mitigate the impact of our increasingly frenetic world. As our country explodes into the 21st century, Eugene continues to grow organically from its honest pioneer roots into a welcoming and uniquely wonderful place to live…
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