Real estate broker John Clouston has set up in new quarters at 15 High Street in Vankleek Hill, but for the veteran of the buy-and-sell properties business, it is like coming home. His desk is underneath an authentic “Vankleek Hill” sign which is from the local train station from days gone by and just inside the door, there is a banker’s desk which was formerly in one of the town’s Main Street banks.
Definitive when he speaks about most things, Clouston clearly has a soft spot for local heritage. Over the years, he has taken note of many things and the changes, big and small, which have occurred in Vankleek Hill.
Clouston has been in the real estate business for more than 25 years and he says one thing that has changed a lot is the amount of information that is available — he is referring to the listings and other real estate information which can be found online, of course.
But Clouston points out that while one can do a lot of research online, buyers and sellers alike should note that selling prices are seldom available online, and listing prices may or may not tell the story if you are trying to determine the correct market price of your property.
“I think there is still room and the need for people to get competent advice,” says Clouston. He says it isn’t all about the money for him, and he sounds like he means it. He is a believer in placing clients first, he says.
“I think that in business, there are times when you have to choose. Do you put your needs first or those of your clients? I truly believe that if you put your clients’ needs first . . . it is the right thing to do,” Clouston explains.
Having recently sold his previous business location — a property with a large stone house at the corner of Pleasant Corners Road and Highway 34, Clouston says he is now keeping things simple. He used to have a location on Highway 17 at L’Orignal, and previous to that, he had lived and operated his business out of the brick building which is now home to Vert Fourchette.
“I have never left Champlain Township,” says Clouston, who describes his current location, next to Nicko’s Resto Bar, as “worry-free.”
He points proudly to the phrase painted on the door leading into his business: “By appointment or by chance.”
He says he borrowed that phrase from the late Phil Arber.
A passion for Clouston in the real estate world is working with farms and farmers.
“It is a magic moment when you know a deal is made, when a buyer and seller come together. There may still be lots of things to get done, but you know that people have achieved their goal, or everybody has. People have their farm, a home, they are ready to have more kids . . . whatever it is. That is the most delightful thing and that is when I feel the best — when people are happy and they are reaching their goals. That is what’s worth it. It’s not about the money,” Clouston says.
If working with owners buying and selling farms is a passion, so is his interest in organic farming, something which he did for a living decades ago.
In this region, there are people of all generations buying. In some cases, farmers choose to move into small towns when they retire.
“But there is definitely a perceived quality of life in this town,” Clouston says. A one-hour commute to Ottawa or Montreal seems like a dream compared to the sometimes three-hour commutes for those who work in Toronto and live north of the city.
At the heart of what he does, says Clouston, is, “giving people the knowledge so that they can make decisions.”
Remax Supreme Inc. is located at 15 High Street in Vankleek Hill. You can speak with Clouston if you are buying or selling and he might have a thing or two to say about organic farming, too. Call him at 613-872-1110.