A: HAR had approximately 25,000 members in 2011, which would have made us the largest association in the country if not for two South Florida associations merging. We were, and still are, a very distant No. 1 in every other aspect, however.
Q: What was the most controversial issue during your year as HAR chairman?
A: The main battle that we had that year was with the press, because they just didn’t want to believe that Houston’s real estate market was doing just fine. Most of the cities around the nation were going through very trying times due to foreclosures and declining real estate values. In Houston, we had experienced some foreclosures, but we could see that the data was showing stability in prices and increasing sales volume. Many times I was interviewed and I could tell that there was skepticism on the part of the interviewers. They couldn’t believe that we weren’t in the midst of a meltdown and thought HAR was just painting a rosy picture for the benefit of our industry. I guess a stable real estate market didn’t make for a very good story. In hindsight, it’s obvious that we were proven right.
Q: What were some of the hot issues in Houston during that time – politically, socially or otherwise?
A: The main issue on everyone’s mind was the economy. Locally, we were going through an economic recovery, but it didn’t always feel like a recovery. Transaction levels had declined and everyone was wondering if things would ever get back to normal. Business was tough, especially on the commercial side. Fortunately, our area was adding new jobs every month that entire year.
Q: What do you consider the greatest accomplishment of your year?
A: Several program innovations were made that year. The old REALTOR® Expo was cast aside, and a much more up-to-date, cutting-edge program called The BIG e was introduced and was held in a really nice venue. It was a full house! The other was a program called the MLS Cloud which was a conference where we invited associations from around the country to learn about HAR’s vision regarding MLS, technology, and association websites. Attendees unanimously agreed that this was probably the most beneficial event that they’d attended that year. This program was a testament to HAR’s influence on the national real estate scene.
Q: Do you have any funny moments or stories to share from your term?
A: The funniest moment that I remember occurred during my installation. [HAR President and CEO] Bob Hale had introduced me and had made mention that I had a boat. Bill McDade, my old partner and mentor, was about to swear me in and said, “Why didn’t you tell me you had a boat?” Bill began to read through the Oath of Office saying, “Do you promise to uphold the bylaws of HAR, etc…?” and then he through in an off-script curve ball, “Do you promise to take me out on your boat?” It caught me completely off guard and had the entire audience roaring in laughter!
Q: What would you consider the greatest innovation at HAR since the conclusion of your chairmanship?
A: There are too many things that HAR does right to list. Obviously, HAR’s focus on technology is one of the things that keeps us at the forefront of the nation’s REALTOR® groups. Electronic signatures and constant improvements to the MLS are things that come to mind.
Houston REALTOR® will visit with another former HAR Chairman in the February 2013 edition.