Q: What did HAR look like organizationally in 1962, the year you served as President of the board?
A: We weren’t very large; I guess we had probably 700 to 800 members. One issue going on at the time was moving the board from all commercial brokers to both commercial and residential. But the thing I remember most was that there were two separate organizations. One was the Houston Board of REALTORS® and the other was the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). They were not combined at that time. There was a secretary for the board and a secretary or executive director for the MLS, and that was not very productive. I thought that they should be combined, but you must realize the philosophy of a lot of the older members of the board who thought the MLS was socialism. Now I didn’t subscribe to that, but a lot of members did, especially those who had been in the organization for a long time. I feel the best accomplishment was combining the MLS with the board as one organization. I can’t take credit for that, but I remember that the board of directors started down that road, and it was finally accomplished over the objections of I guess what you would call a lot of fiercely independent members.
Q: Do you recall what helped sway the “nay-sayers” to approve combining the board and MLS?
A: Well I think the thing that made them come around was that we were able to point out that (the MLS) was in the best interest of the customer, our clients, that it gives greater exposure and greater marketability – it created better service to the consumer.
Q: As you look at HAR over the 48 years since you’ve served as president, what stands out as being perhaps the greatest innovation that really has set this organization apart from others or really just made it stand out in terms of providing a service to the real estate consumer?
A: Well, I can remember when property listings were all put together in a book and every office had to send somebody by every week to get those listings and update their book instead of being able to send it out electronically. I mean, first it was make me a mimeograph, then Xerox, then the Internet. So those are big evolutions right there. I’m just astounded as the electronic media expand that it carries us along with it. Also, the board really does provide a service to the consumer. Its first thoughts are always, “How can we give the public better service and how can we give our members better service?” As I look at it, the fee structure has always gone down instead of up. That’s a testimony to the good leadership of Bob Hale.
Q: You mentioned recruiting Bob Hale from the Texas Association of REALTORS® in 1973 to be HAR’s legal and legislative counsel, after which, in 1988, Bob assumed the role of HAR President and CEO, the position he still holds today. Tell us what that was like.
A: I was involved with the group that brought Bob here from Austin, and we were very proud to get him to eventually head our organization. I felt that he was young, well educated, and had good common sense and a burning drive. He is a leader in what I call board organizations, no question about it, and he is recognized all over the country. But I think it’s interesting that still sometimes, he told me he went to a national convention and somebody from Cleveland or somewhere introduced him as “the communist from Houston” because many other cities did not have an MLS of the strength and magnitude that we had.
Houston REALTOR® will visit with another HAR Past President in the January 2011 edition.