Darcy Friel believes there’s no better place than Stark County to call home.
“I’m one of those strange birds who loves it here,” she said with a laugh. “It’s just an inexpensive place to live, and your quality of life is so high. … And, to me, it just keeps getting better.”
And, as one of Ohio’s top Realtors, Friel can help you find a house here if you need one.
Friel has been in the residential real estate business for more than 20 years. You probably have seen her face on the green and yellow Howard Hanna lawn signs throughout the county, as well as on the business sign along North Main Street in North Canton, where she opened her own office about three years ago.
The Hoover High School graduate initially resisted following her father into the real estate business.
“My dad was a Realtor my whole life, and that was the one thing that I said I would never do,” said Friel, whose mother was an art professor at Malone University and whose siblings are teachers. “People were always calling the house, and he always had us walking through new construction, and I thought it was boring. He knew everyone, so everywhere we went, he was always talking to everyone. It didn’t intrigue me whatsoever.”
But while she was earning her degree in English from Malone, she decided to take some of the college’s real estate business classes as well. She earned her real estate license at age 20.
“I learned that I love hearing what people’s goals are, what they are trying to do and then trying to put those pieces together,” she said.
She joined her father at Realty Executives Commitment in 1995, and in 2002 obtained her broker’s license. Brokers make up 12 percent of licensees in the state, according to the Ohio Association of Realtors.
Friel, who joined Howard Hanna in 2011 after her father sold his company and it closed during the recession, also has earned a host of designations and certifications along the way. She’s a graduate of the Realtor Institute, an accredited buyer’s representative, new home specialist, short sales and foreclosure resource expert, certified new home specialist and homes of distinction specialist.
“To me, it’s that extra level of knowledge,” she said. “If I’m going to do it, I want to be the very best.”
She has earned the Ohio Association of Realtors’ Pinnacle award, the association’s highest sales award, and its Award of Distinction, something that was bestowed to only 137 real estate agents in Ohio last year.
But to Friel, being “the best” doesn’t necessarily mean selling the most houses. She believes in building lasting client relationships.
“Most of my business comes from referrals, so that’s a big deal to me,” she said.
When she’s not helping clients sell or buy a home, the mother of four is busy keeping up with her children, Gabriel, Madison, Kelly and Christian, and husband, Terry, volunteering at First Friends Church or snuggling with her dogs, Jack and Bear.
Friel says at least one of her children is considering following her into the real estate field. Even better, she said, all of them have said they plan to live in the area.
Friel’s local favorites:
Most admired CEO or business owners:
“Joe Albert (photographer) who works with excellence and gives himself to the community. Darlene Leghart (co-founder of Hammer & Nails) who saw a need for help for disadvantaged and physically handicapped Stark County homeowners. She’s worked tirelessly to help others!”
Most memorable spot:
The ballroom at the McKinley Grand Hotel. “My husband and my wedding reception was there 23 years ago when it was the Canton Hilton.”
Favorite date night:
Dinner downtown and First Friday. “We especially like Chalk the Walk and Fire & Ice.”
Favorite indoor activity:
“Family movie nights where we order takeout from Hang Yuen Kitchen or pizza from SOL Pie Pizza.”
Favorite place to see live music:
“The Palace Theatre, Hoover High School’s orchestra at the Hoover Performing Arts Hall (my daughter Kelly plays the viola), or anywhere my brother in-law Jake Friel is playing harmonica.”
Most unique or unusual products made in Stark County:
Bittners from Taggart’s, art by Erin Mulligan, cookies by Kari Willoughby and jewelry by Kathleen Houston.
Favorite local restaurant:
Bender’s Tavern for scallops, 91 Wood Fired Oven for vegetable risotto and Basil Asian Bistro for Pad Thai.
Favorite thing to do:
“Morning coffee time with my family and dogs, events at First Friends Church, my kids’ events, walks at Quail Hollow, Sippo Lake and the Hoover Trail.”
Favorite place to shop:
Best Bib and Tucker in Hartville, Hartville Marketplace for fresh produce, Marshall’s Antique Warehouse and the Bird’s Nest Boutique & Décor in Jackson Township.
Favorite place to take the kids:
Price Park, North Canton Public Library children’s department, William McKinley Presidential Library & Museum, Sippo Lake, walks at Quail Hollow, Monument Park and Sluggers & Putters Amusement Park.
Favorite lunch spot:
El Rincon Mexican Restaurant, Grinders Above & Beyond and Thatsa Wrapp.
Favorite coffee shop:
MaryAnn Donuts and Café.
Favorite spot to grab a drink:
91 Wood Fired Oven and Table Six Kitchen + Bar. “So many creative options.”
Favorite spot to exercise:
Ladies Super Fitness and the North Canton YMCA.
Christkindl Markt, North Canton’s Main Street Festival and First Fridays.
Favorite theater/entertainment spot:
The Palace Theatre. “What a treasure!”
Favorite volunteer opportunity:
First Friend’s Church and Hammer & Nails.
Favorite theater performance group:
Players Guild Theatre.
Favorite place to shop for gifts:
Bird’s Nest Boutique & Décor and Cantonology.