By Michael Harris Jr.
RISMEDIA, Dec. 5, 2008-Every industry has those defining moments when there becomes a noticeable shift in its core power base. At times, it may be due to the simple changing of the guard as we see when one generation relieves the next. At others, it is due to an unerring respect for the industry that is served. The real estate industry is no different. As it heads into another year, there is hope in sight.
Long hailed as one of the most influential leaders of the industry, Bob Hale, president and CEO of the Houston Association of Realtors (HAR), is now joined by his wife, Susie Hale, president and founder of FrogPond.com. Together, they hold court with a sphere of influence that reaches every aspect of the real estate industry.
The Makings of Today’s HAR
Bob Hale has been president and CEO of HAR since 1988. Through Hale’s leadership, HAR has grown to become the largest trade association in Houston and the second largest local Realtor association in the country, with more than 29,000 members.
Because of his vision and drive, HAR.com is a household brand in the greater Houston area and the most frequently visited website for Houston real estate.
“Serving as CEO for the Houston Association of Realtors for the past 20 years, I have taken a wild and exciting ride,” explains Hale. “There are numerous reasons why HAR has the national reputation it enjoys. This would not be possible without the unique vision of the elected leadership who are not afraid to take the lead in innovation and their support from a highly motivated and professional team.”
Unlike many associations, HAR never took part in a regional MLS. That decision resulted in the successful merger with three surrounding associations. At the time, to keep pace with the new Internet brokers, HAR was the first association to offer its members an IDX solution so it could effectively compete.
That solution was its public website, www.HAR.com, which is now more than 10 years old. More than 1 million consumers view the site and its Realtor listings each month, generating over 500,000 free leads to Houston-area Realtors annually. What’s more, new initiatives at HAR.com include Realtor videos and the ability for Realtors to have their clients rate and comment on their service.
“The ride gets wilder and more exciting with each new day. I would not trade it for anything,” says Hale.
Delivering a Message Loud and Clear
Susie Hale, affectionately known as “The Frog,” is the founder of FrogPond.com, a provider of communications and marketing solutions for the real estate industry.
Her FrogPond Publisher products have rapidly become established as an easy and affordable way for real estate-related companies and associations to deliver their message. FrogPond Publisher allows organizations to publish state-of-the-art, multimedia online magazines and newsletters with “cut-and-paste” simplicity. Leaders of Fortune 500 companies in the real estate industry rely on Hale for advice, products and services to maintain their high-tech, high-touch relationships.
With the recent launch of FrogPond TVTM, Hale has not only expanded FrogPond’s educational base with live interviews of the industry’s top leaders, but is providing a source of programming that will continue to evolve to meet the needs in the Hale sphere of influence, ranging from managers, employees and agents to consumers, and most importantly, prospective consumers.
“We have always been fortunate to attend some of the world’s leading conferences and to get to know some of the most forward-thinking pioneers in real estate,” explains Hale. “When I realized what a small percentage of professionals are able to have those same experiences, I became passionate about creating a single, Internet-based source where anyone with an interest could come and learn. I also became passionate about providing a way for professionals and companies to share that knowledge, along with their own branding concepts and messages, with their own audiences.”