Coming home again

The gift of experience can also be a drawback. Adaptability is key in the volatile economic climate, and one of Nashville's most trusted advisers in the music and real estate industries can vouch for that widespread belief.

Sheila Barnard, a real estate agent serving the entire Metro Nashville area and surrounding counties, first gained attention through her pursuits in the music industry. In the last thirty years, she has sculpted her professional pursuits to meet the demands of the market.

Barnard's career began in 1980 when she became manager of Pickers Pickup, a company that transported the equipment of studio musicians between sessions. In 1986, she embarked on her tenure as co-owner of Nashville Cartage and Sound (NCS). The NCS building, complete with storage units and rehearsal halls served performing artists during all seasons.

Superstar clients---Garth Brooks, Jimmy Buffett and Shania Twain, among them---relied on Barnard and her staff for their touring needs. In another coup for the company, NCS provided sound and lights for both of President Bill Clinton's inaugural balls.

"It's like the company became a 'one telephone call' type of operation," Barnard says proudly.

Looking for a change of pace, Barnard chose to leave NCS in 1999. After weighing her options, she followed the advice of friends and forged ahead with her current career: real estate.

"I ended up selling out to my business partner," she says. "I took a year off and prayed to God that He would give me something to do as much as I love the music business. I had some realtor friends say to me 'You love houses' and 'You love to decorate.' They said 'They're going to love your honesty,' and they kept coming at me. My dad was a real estate investor before he died. So I took a year off and completed real estate school in 1999."

Named GLBT Realtor of the Year by Out & About Newspaper in 2005 and 2006, Barnard has made a big impression on the GLBT community. She makes clear that her business assists both straight and gay clientele: the satisfaction of seeing clients discover their dream home is significant regardless of their sexuality.

"The gay community is very important to me and my reputation is very important to me," Barnard says. "I fell in love working with buyers. "I don't limit myself to any particular area. I've lived here for over 40 years. Currently I live in Mt. Juliet, but a lot of my business is in East Nashville and Inglewood where there's a big gay community. I'm really blessed, and I've met a lot of great people and gone many places.

"It's such a thrill to see the look on their faces when they open up a door at a house and you see that they love it," she adds. "And then you can follow through the process and make it happen for them. You want save them as much money as you can out of their pockets, but get them the home they want."

Barnard and her partner recently celebrated their 20th anniversary, a milestone that has stirred up memories of their humble beginnings. The couple's own search for a first home has spurred Barnard to make clients feel as comfortable as possible with this life-changing decision.

"When we were buying homes, you kind of had to hide a little," Barnard admits. "You didn't want to say 'Yes, that will be our room' or 'Yes, that will be our bank account.' When I got in the business, I promised myself that no one would ever have to go through that. All of the home inspectors and title attorneys are gay-friendly or gay themselves, and that makes a comfortable situation. I want (my clients) to enjoy the process and be proud of what they're doing."

Acknowledging the difficult economic climate, Barnard still maintains that purchasing can be a beneficial decision for many prospective clients.

"It's very true that (the housing market) has taken a huge hit in all areas," she says. "Unfortunately for sellers, it's a buyer market today. It's an opportunity for buyers to sit on some property and land. I encourage people because buying property or land is a great retirement plan. Clients want to deal with people they feel they can trust because you really do learn their inner secrets, financially and personally. I'm very confidential and never discuss a person's life with anyone else."

Barnard does detailed planning to make it a fruitful process, using the latest technologies to uncover all the possibilities. For each new client, she researches over 500 residences to find the right fit.

"I try to become their lifetime realtor," she says. "Clients want to deal with people they feel they can trust because you really do learn their inner secrets, financially and personally. I'm very confidential and never discuss a person's life with anyone else."

Photo by Margo Amala on Unsplash

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