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Robert (Bert) Ward Jr., is a native of Alamance County.  Since the mid-1990s, Bert has been actively involved in the purchase, sale, renovation and management of residential properties, and has worked for some of the Triangle's and Triad's top-ranked real estate companies Coldwell Banker - Howard Perry & Walston (HPW), Coldwell Banker – Triad REALTORS® (CBTR), and Keller Williams Realty – Burlington Market Center.

After helping lead Walter Williams High School to the State AAA Football Championship as quarterback and team co-captain under Coach Sam Story in 1985, Bert briefly left Alamance County to earn a bachelor's of science degree from East Carolina University. It was there that he met his wife Mary Staton, who he's been married to since 1991.

Upon graduation, Bert came back to Alamance County to work in credit and collections for Unifi, Inc., an international textile company. From there, Bert obtained his real estate sales license in the summer of 1996, and went to work for Coldwell Banker – Alamance Realty in Burlington.  After working there for just a few months, Bert left to pursue a better job opportunity with Better Homes & Gardens – Howard, Perry & Walston (HPW), as a new construction on-site sales agent at Mill Creek Golf Club in Mebane, representing nationally recognized custom home builders C. Richard Dobson (now part of D.R. Horton America's Builder) and John Wieland Homes.

By 1998, Bert had acquired a couple of rental properties, moved on from Mill Creek to obtain his broker’s license, and went to work for Dan Mohr Real Estate Schools, one of the oldest and largest private real estate schools in North Carolina. While employed there as the office manager, he completed the residential appraisal courses and in 2000, began appraising for LandAmerica OneStop (formerly Primis Appraisals, and last known as eAppraiseIT), a leading national title insurance company and real estate appraisal/property information service provider.

In 2002, Bert received his North Carolina State Certified Residential Real Estate Appraiser license and founded Alamance Appraisals.  Over the next four years, Bert completed more than 1200 appraisals.  After the Great Recession of 2008 and the most challenging years in the real estate market since the Great Depression of the late 1920s through the early 1930s, Bert decided to get back into real estate sales full-time in late 2010 by going to work for Coldwell Banker – Triad Realtors in Burlington (CBTR).  A few months later Bert was recruited and transferred to Coldwell Banker – Howard, Perry & Walston (HPW) in Mebane.

In less than two years, Bert received the Coldwell Banker International President's Elite award in 2012, which recognizes their top 2 percent of all sales associates in the world.  In addition, Bert was recipient of the Mebane, NC, office Associate of the Year award with the highest number of closed units; the Gold Listings Sold Associate of the Year; Gold Sales Associate of the Year; and the Gold Listing Associate of the Year.  The same year, Bert was also named Alamance County's choice for Best Real Estate Agent by the Burlington Times News by its Reader's Choice Awards.  Although 2012 was a banner year for Bert in real estate sales, it was not for Coldwell Banker – HPW’s Mebane office.  In 2013, they closed their full-service Mebane office and consolidated operations into their Hillsborough office.  With the sales meetings and admirative support all being handled out of Hillsborough, Bert decided leave Coldwell Banker - HPW and go to work for the largest real estate firm in Alamance County, Keller Williams Realty in Burlington.  Approximately six months later, Bert’s wife Mary Staton obtained her real estate broker’s license, and in the Fall of 2013 Bert & Mary Staton opened up their own real estate firm, Black Diamond Real Estate.   

In 2014, Bert was appointed as a Director to the Burlington-Alamance County Association of REALTORS board, serving three years through 2016.  Then in 2017, Bert was appointed to serve as an Officer to the Burlington-Alamance County Multiple Listing Service (MLS) Board, which requires its board members to be active practicing brokers-in-charge.  In 2019, Bert served as President of the MLS Board overseeing the successful conversion from the Innovia MLS software operating system to Corelogic’s Matrix operating software system.  That same year, Bert also oversaw the adoption/integration/transition from Centralized Showing Service (CSS) to ShowingTime, both record keeping showing service providers.          

In June 2020 during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, Bert dove back into the appraisal business, and with the help of his wife Mary Staton, appraised in excess of 450 homes in two years.

In 2022, Bert’s final year serving as an Officer of the Burlington-Alamance County Multiple Listing Service Board, he was successful in persuading the Burlington-Alamance MLS to merge with the Triangle MLS (Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill). 

Today, Bert & Mary Staton focus their time and efforts to both appraising and selling real estate for their company, Alamance Appraisals - Black Diamond Real Estate, LLC.

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In 1996, Mary Staton began assisting her husband, Bert Ward, with the management of investment properties—the beginning of her exposure to the real estate industry.  Mary Staton's duties included scheduling and coordinating renovations, repairs and maintenance as well as the day-to-day managerial duties of property management.

In 2007, she extended the scope of her real estate work as a North Carolina Trainee Real Estate Appraiser after successful completion of the state course and exam.  Then in October of 2013, Mary Staton expanded her real estate expertise by obtaining her Real Estate Broker’s license and started working full time with Bert in their real estate firm assisting buyers and sellers with the purchase and sale of residential properties.  In 2018 Mary Staton was appointed to a three-year term as a Director of the Burlington – Alamance County Association of Realtors

In October 2020 during the early stage of the COVID pandemic, Mary Staton dove back into the real estate appraisal business helping Bert appraise more than 450 homes in two years.  Then in December of 2023 Mary Staton was initiated again as a Director of the Burlington – Alamance County of Association of Realtors for another three-year term. 

Prior to getting involved in real estate, Mary Staton moved from her hometown of Greensboro to Raleigh, where she attended St. Mary's College and earned an associate of arts degree. She continued her education in Greenville, NC, and graduated in 1990 with a Bachelor of Arts degree from East Carolina University (ECU).

Shortly after graduating from ECU, Mary Staton was hired as an inside sales representative for The Austin Company in Yadkinville, NC. She and Bert relocated to Burlington in 1992, where she was a customer service representative for BB&T in Graham. She then obtained her insurance license and worked as a customer service representative in the commercial division of Somers-Pardue Insurance Agency (now HUB International), in Burlington, from 1994 to 1999. For nearly three years, she served as an administrative assistant for James B. Crouch, Jr. of Harris, Crouch, Long, Scott & Miller in Whitsett.

Mary Staton and Bert live in Burlington, where they are parents to two daughters, Margot and Isabel. Aside from work, she enjoys snow skiing with her family, reading, and working in the yard.

differenceLet Bert and Mary Staton guide you through the complexities of buying and/or selling a

After the collapse of the US economy and real estate market in 2008, a number of small hometown real estate firms throughout the country merged with some of the largest nationally owned and operated real estate franchises in order to survive as ongoing entities. Equally as hard hit was the appraisal profession with the overhaul of the mortgage lending industry and the passage of the Dodd-Frank legislation leading to the rise of large-scale nationwide appraisal management companies (AMCs), most of which, are owned by some of the largest banking institutions in the world.

As a result of these major life-changing events, the decision was made to transform Alamance Appraisals into a real estate firm, and in 2010 Black Diamond Real Estate was formed to help fill the void of only having a few locally owned and operated small real estate firms specializing in personal customer service.

Because Black Diamond Real Estate is a husband and wife team with more than 40 years of combined real estate experience, we are ideally positioned to serve our clients since we have an advantage when it comes to connecting with both our female and male clients alike. What this means to both our sellers and buyers is we have the ability to better understand your needs and motivations in helping negotiate the best deal in the sale or purchase of your home.

Because we are a small firm by design, we are personally involved in every step of the buying and selling process, from listings to showings and from contracts to closings. When you have any questions, you deal directly with us, not an assistant or closing coordinator typically used by agents in larger real estate firms. By handling the selling and buying process ourselves, we eliminate any unnecessary confusion or communication duplication with how things are progressing, without involving third parties who often don’t know about recent changing circumstances that transpire during the inspection and negotiation process.

With Bert and Mary Staton on your side, you will be hiring professional REALTORs® who possess the background, credentials, experience, and knowledge to help identify and understand current market conditions to assist you in making an informed decision with the sale or purchase of your next home or real estate investment.

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