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Insights From the 2019 REBAC Hall of Fame Inductees

The Real Estate Buyer’s Agent Council (REBAC) is home to more than 30,000 members and over 25,000 ABR® (Accredited Buyer’s Representative) designees. Every year, the organization showcases a select group of ABR® designees who best exemplify the efforts being made to advance buyer representation in real estate, inducting them into the REBAC Hall of Fame.

This year’s Hall of Fame honorees include Marki Lemons Ryhal, REBAC instructor; Donald (Donny) Allen, broker/partner at Keller Williams Realty of Southwest Missouri; and Karen Stang, broker/owner of Carriage Realty, Inc.

For these industry professionals, a focus on buyer representation has changed the way they do business, and for the better.

Marki Lemons Ryhal

“When I became licensed and opened my own company, I instantly realized that I didn’t know anything about real estate. But I’m an education junkie, so I earned the ABR® designation in my first year,” says Lemons Ryhal, who has been a REBAC member since 2004. “In that first full-time year as a broker, I was in the top 10 percent of real estate transactions in the city of Chicago, and I attribute that to the ABR®.”

For Lemons Ryhal, education has always been a part of who she is. After earning her undergrad, she taught the second grade, then moved on to teaching hospitality management and marketing at the collegiate level after earning her master’s.

Allen shares a similar passion, saying “teaching is just in my DNA.”

Donald Allen

A REBAC member since 1997, Allen recognized the benefit of the designation early on, earning it just a year after becoming licensed. In fact, he is such a strong proponent of the designation that he jumped right into passing along the knowledge to other agents.

“After only 18 months in the business, I had my ABR® designation and I began teaching my colleagues in my office what I had learned. Buyer agency was so new, and I wanted my colleagues to be informed and better trained,” says Allen.

It’s those experiences, he says, that led him to a sales manager position at another company and eventually to Keller Williams, where training is at the core of the brokerage.

Karen Stang

As for Stang, whose father suggested she obtain a real estate license for the “knowledge alone,” the designation has shown buyers that she is serious about learning how to help them “with tools designed just for them.” A REBAC member since 2008, Stang says that “knowledge is power, and power helps us meet our clients’ needs easily and effectively.”

What does it mean to be a REBAC Hall of Famer?
According to Stang, it’s simply advocating for homeownership and homebuyers. For Allen, it’s about “being that ‘go-to’ person for information.” And Lemons Ryhal believes being innovative is a big part of it—specifically looking for ways to deliver content according to people’s preferred learning styles.

Being an advocate for buyer representation also means being an intrinsic part of the local community—a thread all three Hall of Fame honorees share.

Stang plays an active role in local charity efforts, believing in “supporting our community through donations, volunteering and serving on boards.” She is on her community association’s board and volunteers with a local food shelf, Habitat for Humanity and The Humane Society of the United States, in addition to working with her state’s REALTOR® association.

“By serving on the Minnesota REALTORS® Professional Standards Committee, I help enforce our REALTOR® Code of Ethics,” says Stang. “I believe in fair housing, diversity and equal homeownership opportunities for everyone. By being involved, I am doing my part to make real estate better for REALTORS® and consumers.”

Lemons Ryhal is a constant presence in her community, as well, volunteering at the state level “with things that pertain to fair housing and diversity,” and being a member of Delta Sigma Theta—one of the largest black sororities in America—as well as working to advance significant legislation on behalf of the real estate industry.

Allen also serves on several committees, both at his local board and on the state level, and teaches a safety course offered through the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR).

Overall, being a Hall of Famer and an ABR® means cementing a reputation as an expert in real estate and, in particular, buyers—something that has been clear from the beginning for these individuals.

While people crack jokes about the “alphabet soup” after Allen’s name, the results of his designations have been no laughing matter.

“I’ve received more referrals from agents and friends because of my designations. It gives you more confidence to refer someone to an agent with professional designations,” says Allen. “People may not know what each designation stands for, but they know that I am a professional and probably more prepared.”

The ABR® designation has not only propelled his own business, but that of other local companies, as well.

“I work with some of the major employers in Joplin and I help them recruit candidates by giving community tours and highlighting the quality-of-life features offered in my community,” says Allen, who has found success during these tours by promoting his credentials, which include representing buyers at a higher level.

And Stang says the designation has helped her keep up to date on ever-shifting buyer trends, giving her a competitive edge in the market.

“Buyers have always wanted to be informed so that they can make educated decisions,” says Stang. “By staying on top of the latest technology and easily sharing the relevant data with consumers, our expertise shines and our clients win.”

The designation has been so helpful to Lemons Ryhal’s business that she believes it should not be something that people “aspire to learn,” but rather, a requirement, as it will help all agents achieve “a sustainable real estate business.”

“When it comes to REBAC and the Hall of Fame, it has absolutely changed my life,” says Lemons Ryhal. “The ABR® should be the foundation for people coming into the real estate industry, because the pre-licensing courses don’t teach you how to sell real estate.”

For more information on how to earn the ABR® designation, please visit

Liz Dominguez is RISMedia’s associate content editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at