Q: Describe HAR and the local real estate market during your year.
A: HAR had about as many members in 2006 as it does today and we were proud to be the largest REALTOR® association in the U.S. That ended up being a record year for home sales in Houston and all throughout the year, our real estate market received very positive coverage in the media. I recall many of us on the Board being in a state of disbelief because we kept hearing about the country as a whole having issues in the real estate market, but we were not experiencing that here. The big word at the time was the real estate “bubble” and we just didn’t see that in Houston at all. Ours was a totally different market.
2006 was a fun year for me, it was a great year for the agents in the market and a great year for the brokerages.
Q: What was the most controversial issue during your year as HAR chair?
A: It was during my year that we entered into an agreement to have our property listings displayed on Google, which was a big push. The HAR.com website was already extremely popular and this move was the next step to take it beyond Houston. I think we were the first association/MLS to put our listings on Google.
Every place we went across the country, other associations were asking us how we were doing it in Houston – how we got our board to go along with creating a public portal for listings. We just didn’t have a lot of push and pull from our board members and most of us supported the whole idea of transparency. We already had HAR.com up and running for about 10 years while other associations were just beginning to consider a public-facing website.
Q: What do you consider the greatest accomplishment of your year?
A: Signing the deal with Google was definitely the greatest accomplishment. HAR also started using Terradatum which I think has brought a lot of insight into the market that you can measure. That’s been a nice relationship.
Q: Did you ever imagine yourself one day being HAR Board chair?
A: No. I got involved as a volunteer working with [HAR Chief Technology Officer] Taqi Rizvi and getting to know more and more of the facts about the Association. Working my way onto the Board was a natural progression as a volunteer.
When you’re in real estate, it’s important to know what’s going on at HAR because it drives so much of the information that all of our consumers see and all of the tools that our companies are using. It’s good to have a voice and be there when things are being created. I have a very close working relationship with my agents here in the office, so I know what they want and need and it’s good to be able to bring that information directly to the Association.
Q: What would you consider the greatest innovation at HAR since the conclusion of your chairmanship?
A: I would say the HAR mobile app with the GPS. It’s the ultimate example of HAR innovating in the mobile world by extending the bridge between the consumer and the agent.
Houston REALTOR® will visit with another former HAR Chair in the September 2012 edition.