Reflections of Ted C. Jones, Ph.D., 2004 HAR Chairman

Q: Describe what HAR was like organizationally during your year – board structure, membership size and any other unique features.
A: We had completed a governance reform just a few years earlier that allowed any member in good standing to run for the board of directors, and any board member to run for an office. That has not changed much in recent years. The for-profit component of HAR, HRIS, was ramping up.

HAR had approximately 14,000 members and a $12 million annual budget.

Q: What was the most controversial issue during your year as HAR chair?
A: There really were not many controversies—just standard operational issues. A new lock box was distributed. The prior year was a new MLS system. Things really do not change that much on the operational issues—do they?

Q: What were some of the hot issues in Houston during that time – politically, socially or otherwise?
A: The year commenced with the opening of the light rail system—Metro Rail (which is now the 14th most traveled light rail system in the country). Big debate continued on additional rail (and where it would be located) versus buses and added roads. The Astros won their first playoff series in the history of the club. Oil prices rose 33 percent from $31.14 average in 2003 to $41.44 in 2004. Regular gasoline rose from an average $1.56 percent gallon to $1.85–and people complained about the almost 20 percent cost increase.

The number of existing home sales rose 10.2 percent as subprime lending picked up momentum, while the typical median price increased just 1 percent to $133,800 (versus $153,900 is the 12 months ending March 2012). Houston gained 40,900 jobs—an increase of 1.8 percent.

And the most memorable? There was a Christmas Eve snowstorm in Houston and Galveston in 2004. No kidding.

Q: What do you consider the greatest accomplishment of your year?
A: Updating both the statistical reporting of sales data along with a newly embedded months inventory routine available to MLS members showing the relationship between supply and demand by product type, price range, location, neighborhood, zip code and so forth. These were very powerful statistics for REALTORS® to use in counseling buyers and sellers—and Houston was the first in country to incorporate this feature in the MLS system.

Q: Do you have any funny or memorable moments to share from your term?
A: I invoke the 5th Amendment.

Q: What would you consider the greatest innovation at HAR since the conclusion of your chairmanship?
A: Everything online servicing both home buyers, home sellers and also greatly benefiting HAR membership. We commenced the movement to a paperless association and the real estate transaction process—which, as of today with transaction management, has evolved into a seamless and transparent process for buyers, sellers, REALTORS® and lenders. The Houston Association of REALTORS® is the premier association in the country due to the diligence of both staff and volunteer leadership—and I am proud to have helped keep us along that route.

Houston REALTOR® will visit with another former HAR Chair in the July 2012 edition.