Reflections of Michael Levitin, 2008 HAR Chairman
Q: Describe what HAR was like organizationally during your year – board structure, membership size and any other unique features.
A: In 2008, the Houston Association of REALTORS® had more than 26,000 members. HAR was the second largest REALTOR® association in the country, just behind the Long Island Board of REALTORS®.
Q: What was the most controversial issue during your year as HAR chair?
A: Hurricane Ike hammered the Houston area in September 2008. Not only did the people of Houston rise to the occasion to assist those who suffered losses during that natural disaster, but HAR took time to assist those who needed housing assistance, as well as helping member REALTORS® who lost their offices and homes. Several real estate companies partnered with others so that firms without offices could work together.
Q: What were some of the hot issues in Houston in 2008 – politically, socially or otherwise?
A: The Houston real estate market saw sales decline considerably in 2008 compared to the heyday of the prior two years. In some cases, sales dropped 15% compared to the record years of 2006 and 2007. Even though this was true, we were still able to demonstrate how strong the Houston real estate market was in comparison to other markets around the country.
Q: What do you consider the greatest accomplishment of your year?
A: In 2008, the Houston Association of REALTORS® announced partnerships with several companies, like Zillow, to promote MLS listings to bolster the business of our REALTOR® members. This collaboration served to increase the exposure of our listings with other websites. In addition, I travelled to quite a few cities to promote the accomplishments of the incredible HAR staff. One of our trips was to Canada to share the cutting edge technology offered to our members.
Another major accomplishment of 2008 was the introduction of HAR’s monthly MLS Update videos, featuring interviews with the HAR Chair/Chairman discussing real estate market stats and making those videos available to the media. Also, HAR introduced video production services for members through HAR-TV so members could use this as an effective tool for promoting their business.
Q: Do you have any funny or memorable moments to share from your term?
A: For our February board meeting, I invited the Houston Rockets’ mascot, Clutch The Bear, to be a surprise guest. Congressman Ted Poe was just completing his presentation as a loud pounding began on the closed board room doors. In walked Clutch blasting an airhorn. Several board members went under the tables, as they thought there might be “trouble.” Clutch did his magic while Congressman Ted Poe said this was his favorite meeting of all time. You may watch a clip of this memorable event online at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jLcBycOqP7A.
Houston REALTOR® will visit with another former HAR Chairman in the November 2012 edition.