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?
It was a total surprise. I had no idea I had even been nominated! When I heard [HAR Chair] Kenya Burrell-VanWormer call my name as one of the REALTOR® of the Year recipients, it took a few seconds to sink in as I was not certain what she said.
What does this honor mean to you?
To be recognized by one’s peers, I believe, is the ultimate honor that anyone can receive.This is a privilege to be so honored, and I truly am humbled by the recognition, and I know that other members could have been chosen.
What do you find most gratifying about your work as a real estate professional?
The fact that I get to meet so many different people and work with them through the many challenges that then result in a successful transaction that meets my clients’ goals. Of course, the most gratifying thing is when your clients come back and ask you to represent them again. Our business is a profession that allows us to set and reach our own goals.
What advice would you offer new real estate professionals or folks considering entering the real estate profession given current market conditions, opportunities and challenges?
Make certain that you allow yourself enough time to develop your business to a profitable state. Equip yourself with good education and training, which HAR offers to new agents. Be professional and go the extra mile and it will pay dividends for you in the future. The market is constantly changing and there are good opportunities in every kind of market. The industry is evolving so it is important to stay attuned to what is happening, and the best way is to give back by participating in your local, state and national committees. Of course, make your investment in TREPAC (even if it’s minimal).
Do you have other thoughts or comments, such as opportunities HAR provides real estate professionals?
Our members need to know that HAR is, without a doubt, the premier local real estate association in the country. The leadership and staff at HAR are absolutely the best and are there to assist you whenever needed. Reach out and serve on committees, run for the board of directors and help lead our association in the future. We are indeed all privileged to be a part of HAR.