Larry Wilde

By Logan Hall

Larry Wilde has been around the real estate block. Having spent the last 40 years building his business, he knows a thing or two about the industry.

The California native moved to Ojai in 1975, right out of college. “My wife-to-be loved horses,” he said. “We knew about Ojai from several trips we had taken up there and we decided to make the move.”

Soon after, he met Dennis Guernsey — the man who would help shape his career and change the burgeoning real estate business in Ojai forever. “Dennis was a competitor of mine,” said Wilde. “At the time there were only about 35 agents in the valley.”

Although the two men now operate the largest real estate firm in the valley, things didn’t start out so amicably. “Dennis used to follow me to doors and pull off my business cards and replace them with his,” he said. “He admitted to doing it, and from there it didn’t take long to become friends. He approached me in 1978 about starting an office and we did.” And so Ojai’s branch of Coldwell Banker Property Shoppe was born.

Things are much different in 2018 than when Wilde first set up shop. There are more people in the valley, more agents and a market that is in constant flux. Ojai’s also been through a lot recently, with the devastating Thomas Fire. “The combination of the fire, extended drought, and higher interest rates, have temporarily slowed the market,” he said. “Ojai is still an all-time bargain relative to other markets that exist in California.”

Some properties are moving faster than others. As with most businesses, it all comes down to supply and demand. “Anything under $750,000 is quite active,” he said. “Ojai has also had several large properties sell that are very unique in their own way. Properties that are unique either by location, architecture, or setting — there’s always a demand for it.” And several of those standout-listings are Wilde’s. “The Pierpont Cottages on Thacher Road is location at its best,” he said. “This place is next level. It’s a Julia Morgan architect, built in 1908. She designed Hearst Castle. It’s a very cool piece of property.”

With so much competition amongst Ojai realtors, it would be easy to picture everyone butting heads and fighting for the next big listing. For Wilde, the people have made the business what it is today. “All the agents are truly the success of this company,” he said. “There are several that are still with us since we started in 1978. We have a great group of people here and I have a lot of respect for my business partner, Dennis.”

Now 40 years after starting his business, he is preparing for retirement. The Wilde name will continue his legacy in the valley though. His son, Erik, is poised to take over, taking the family name into the future of the industry. “Erik grew up around this business that I’ve been doing his whole life,” he said. “He will be taking over my ownership within a year from now. He’s been extensively trained to do so. I’m very proud of him and his accomplishments.”

After retirement, Wilde says he’s ready to get out and enjoy nature more. “I’m a hiker so I love the outdoors,” he said. “I love the ocean and spending time with my beautiful wife and two doggies. I’m really looking forward to traveling.”

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