HAR: Then and Now

This is the first in a series of interviews with former leaders of your association. Times have really changed. Or have they?

Q: Take us back to 1958. What was the then-Houston Board of REALTORS® like?
A: I think we had moved to rental office space in a small office building at the corner of Dallas Street and Lamar downtown. It was an expansion of the previous office. The board membership at that time was 500 or less and that downtown location was thought to be the right place for the membership at that time.

Q: What was the most controversial issue during your year as HAR president?
A: We were deliberating whether or not the Houston board should get involved at the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). There were members that were very adamant about wanting to keep their business to themselves as opposed to making a listing available to everybody on the board. It was an issue that was debated quite frequently during my year, but no final conclusion was drawn at that time. Some of the firms that had a larger number of members in the firm were more inclined to have an MLS. Individual members were hesitant to support an MLS because they felt like it would establish an opportunity for office with larger firm, opportunity to in effect have access to their listing on a different basis than if they were a member of a firm. Eventually we did adopt an MLS. Members concluded that it really was a worthwhile factor.

Also controversial at the time, and I think it would rival MLS, was discussion amongst members that we be involved in politics. In other words, whether the board should be involved in politics and should it endorse particular candidates when it was possible there would be board members who quite reasonably supported an opposite candidate. Subsequent to that, we developed a political action program where they developed a process by which they chose and they never could make everybody happy. But they attempted to do it based on how the particular candidate would be supportive to things beneficial to the board.

Q: What do you consider the greatest accomplishment of your year?
A: I’d have to say the greatest accomplishment of my term of office had to do with a commission schedule. At that time, federal law didn’t prohibit the board from having a recommended commission schedule. It became law I think that year or the year subsequent, but the idea that the board previously had a recommended commission schedule for every real estate activity for sales of homes and business leases and all sorts of circumstances that commissions evolve from, and it was actually convenient for the members of the board to simply say in writing up a listing agreement that the recommended commission schedule of the boards states that the sale of a property would be by percent or whatever. Subsequent to that, federal law prohibited organizations from having a recommended commission schedule and I think that very quietly I was a hero because during my year, we elevated the commission schedule on sale of real estate from five to six percent.

Q: What would you consider the greatest innovation at HAR since you served as president?
A: Well I think one of the greatest things we ever did was get Bob Hale running the program. Beyond that, I think that the office on the Southwest Freeway has expanded the board’s ability to be supportive of its members by nature of a very prominent office and a good real estate investment and also just making it possible for the membership to have access to a large building that can accommodate a lot of programs as well as a tremendous parking facility adjacent to the building. Actually, that was one of the challenges that we had previously where we simply rented office space. We never could have anything big enough with parking downtown at Dallas and Lamar. It was a pretty expensive thing not to mention being particularly inconvenient to the members.

Houston REALTOR® will visit with another HAR Past President in the December edition.

David Mendel

David Mendel

Public Relations Manager

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