Q: What were some of the key issues of the day during your chairmanship?
A: We had the first time homebuyer tax credit, there were issues with property appraisals, and issues with the federal government regarding the lack of a permanent flood insurance program. But here in Houston, we were blessed with a healthier economy and real estate market than most of the rest of the country. I thanked my lucky stars every day that I was in Texas, and especially Houston, the most exciting, diverse and welcoming city on the planet!
Q: What stands out as the most memorable moment(s) of your term?
A: My year started on such a highpoint to have Mark Willis, CEO of Keller Williams Realty, install me, [author and real estate consultant/motivational speaker] Stefan Swanepoel as keynote speaker and [NAR and TAR past president] Charles McMillan in attendance at REALTOR® Celebration. Later in the year, I was thrilled to meet boxing legend Muhammad Ali during an HAR business trip to Scottsdale, Arizona.
Q: What do you consider the greatest accomplishment of your year as HAR chair?
A: HAR tackled some important local issues in 2010 with the guidance of our Governmental Affairs team—historic preservation in Houston and private property rights. HAR also became the largest local REALTOR® association in the entire country, with about 25,000 members. We shared and continue to share HAR-developed tools and technology with our friends throughout the state and country, but we also share with Montreal, Canada, whose REALTOR® association is surprisingly similar to ours.
HAR’s mapping contract was expiring and we had been talking with Google about their mapping services. While I was attending the NAR conference in California, Bob Hale, Sam Scott, Rene Galvan and I completed the negotiations on the Google campus. It was quite exciting to ride a Google bike, eat in their cafeteria and learn that the highest official on campus presents at 4 p.m. on Friday while every other company’s top official presents first thing Monday morning.
Q: What do you consider the greatest innovation at HAR since the conclusion of your chairmanship?
A: Hopefully everyone reading this is using HAR-ETS. In 2010, it was becoming apparent that we needed to provide our members with electronic transaction solutions. HAR held focus groups, researched multiple products, did beta testing and electronic transaction management came to HAR. HAR-ETS allows members to go paperless, have files available on mobile devices and provides great improvement in risk management. More brokerages are signing on every day. HAR-ETS is affordable for brokers, a built-in REALTOR® benefit for HAR members, and it is efficient and user-friendly. For more information about HAR-ETS, go to www.har.com/ets. You may also read the feature story that ran in the November edition of Houston REALTOR® magazine.
Q: One of the trademarks of your chairmanship was establishment of the HAR Flame program. Tell us about that.
A: I have always known how much REALTORS® care and how they open their hearts and give of their time, talents and resources. Coming from different brokerage firms and models, small companies or large, franchise or independent, REALTORS® work side by side at the food bank, repairing homes for senior citizens, volunteering in schools and hospitals. They are also our volunteer leaders on committees and boards at HAR, TAR and NAR. They care and they give. In fact, one of my favorite quotes is “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
We hear about how much money people raise for charities, but I thought that we should honor volunteer service. I’m sure that everyone reading this gives of him or herself. Please log in to The Flame (www.har.com/flame) and let your REALTOR® family know what you care about and what you are doing in the volunteer realm. I can only imagine how staggering the hours of volunteer service would be if every REALTOR® shared this information.
Houston REALTOR® will visit with another former HAR Chairman in the January 2013 edition.