This special consumer-centric edition of Houston REALTOR® is just one more reason for all of us to be proud of the Houston Association of REALTORS® (HAR) and the Houston area real estate community. Proud not just because the HAR leadership team has the courage to go where most REALTOR® associations won’t go, but also proud because a significant percentage of HAR members will read and learn from this edition and use the knowledge therein to improve their professional performance and make Houston a better place to buy and sell real estate.

The willingness of Houston-area REALTORS® to learn and to improve is one of the things that has contributed greatly to the power, consistency and dependability of the Houston real estate market. It is one of the reasons why, when the rest of the country’s market collapsed in 2005, Houston maintained its resolve and powered through the mortgage crisis, the recession and the post- recession doldrums. Today, thanks to this spirit and respect, buying real estate in Houston is both safe and a great deal.

This is not a statement one can make today in most American markets. The dynamics of the national real estate marketplace have seldom been as disrupted as they are today. Many markets are coming under the influence of what is becoming known as the “hyper- market,” a combination of factors that promises to cause a lot of unhappiness before it ends. Fortunately, the Houston market has to date been able to avoid this situation.

Many experts have speculated with respect to the unique Houston real estate experience. Some have recently proposed that one of the reasons Houston has been able to maintain the dignity and strength of its real estate market is that Houston REALTORS® genuinely respect their fellow citizens and consumers. This is not the case in other parts of the country.

As everyone knows, today’s consumer represents a significantly different individual than has occupied the real estate market in the past. This new model of consumer brings several remarkable attributes to the table. It is common knowledge that the new consumer is willing to do the work and the research to be a successful consumer. But it is more than just work. Today’s consumer understands the power of knowledge and the benefits of being an informational insider and they demand nothing less.

The Houston REALTOR® understands this demand. That is why Houston REALTORS® bring, the finest public facing website in the country, to the Houston consumer. The Houston real estate consumer doesn’t have to worry about the sufficiency, accuracy of currency of the available information. Keeping current is a 24-hour a day challenge, one that is undertaken with pride and dignity so absent in many other real estate markets.

But the Houston area REALTOR®’s respect for their customers and consumers goes beyond Over the past few years, HAR has become one of the only associations in the country to design, develop and implement a consumer information panel. This award winning program was brought into being by the innovative efforts HAR’s award winning Director of Engagement, Roz Crew. Because of her efforts each month, more than 6,500 Houston area volunteer consumers are participating in an interactive surveying program that provides them with a direct feed to HAR. Using this exciting system, these consumers, most of whom are either currently involved in the market or were recently involved in a transaction, share their experiences, insights and unique perspectives with HAR. The information and wisdom gained through this program is quickly converted to trends and empirical data that is, in turn, shared with both Houston area brokerages and individual agents in a continuing effort to make the Houston marketplace just what the consumer wants it to be.

This program is now taking the respect factor to an even higher level. A group from within the HAR consumer panel has agreed to interact with HAR’s Governmental Affairs program. Through this new relationship, HAR is now in a position to work with real estate consumers to jointly address government and public affairs issues of common interest. Few cities in the United States have been able to reach this level of partnership and collaboration.

Even with all of this success, HAR and the Houston REALTOR® understands that the awareness of the Houston area real estate market is only the beginning of the consumer’s drive to become fully engaged in their real estate marketplace. Houston REALTORS® understand that their consumers are interested in a whole range of new issues in such areas as lifestyle, agent rating, walkability and educational opportunities for their children and themselves. They and HAR are working overtime to meet their commitment to provide and sustain a safe, solid and yes, exciting real estate marketplace.

When the HAR leadership team meets for its annual Strategic Leadership Conference in August, more than half of its agenda will be focused on the needs and expectations of the dynamic real estate consumer.  Experts from all around the country will join in to share new knowledge and insights on how to strengthen the REALTOR®/Consumer partnership and how to use it to improve the homeownership, family and lifestyle experience in Houston today and into the future.

That is how things should be all over the country and it is certainly how things are in Houston, the nation’s fourth largest real estate marketplace and simply the best place in the country to engage the real estate marketplace.