Each year, the Houston Association of REALTORS® (HAR) honors a member that most personifies REALTOR® in spirit and ethics, through service to his or her profession, peers and the REALTOR® association. For 2018, two members emerged as deserving of this prestigious recognition. One of them is former HAR Chairman Mario Arriaga, broker/owner of the First Group, which he co-founded in 1974. Mario also served as HAR’s 2017 Commercial Gateway (CommGate) chairman. The other is Jo Ann Stevens, a top producer with Lane Real Estate in Sugar Land, who has chaired HAR’s TREPAC advisory committee and served on the Governmental Affairs and Political Affairs advisory groups for several years. We visited with both Mario and Jo Ann to get their reactions to receiving REALTORS® of the Year honors, and to have them share their perspectives on the real estate industry and HAR.
What was your first reaction when you learned that you were a 2018 honoree?
Surprised and honored.
What does this honor mean to you?
To be recognized by your peers is one of the highest compliments an individual can receive. It just says to me that the years of involvement in the real estate profession have been recognized by my peers and, more importantly, appreciated. I am so honored.
What do you find most gratifying about your work as a real estate professional?
I enjoy working with clients and helping them find the home of their dreams for the next stage of their life. Whether I am working with first-time home buyers or luxury buyers, I enjoy the challenge of finding what they want in their price point. I have lived in Houston most of my life and enjoy the opportunity to show the amenities of our city to newcomers. Being a Texan is more than where you are from. It is a state of mind and I love the opportunity to share it.
What advice would you offer new real estate professionals or folks considering entering the real estate profession given current market conditions, opportunities and challenges?
I would hope anyone entering the real estate profession has a clear understanding of what it is and is not. You must stay abreast of new technology and trends in the business, which means you never stop reading and learning. It also takes time to build your business so be prepared from the start with financial reserves. It is a wonderful profession, but it is NOT easy income as many people think. A good agent works hard for their clients. Real estate can be a very rewarding career as you are helping people with one of the largest investments they will ever make. It is also where they will raise their children and the place they come home to every night for sanctuary. Homeownership is the backbone of our country!
Do you have other thoughts or comments, such as opportunities HAR provides real estate professionals?
We are so fortunate in Houston to have the finest real estate association in the country, but many or our members do not realize this and take our many benefits for granted. HAR is the standard many associations in the country try to achieve. There are many opportunities for participation in the area of your interest, so I encourage members to get involved and make a difference. If real estate is to be your profession, then one needs to invest in himself/herself to be the best advocate for the client.