Ebby Halliday's Wisdom for the Ages

From NAR President: Halliday is an icon for the real estate industry.

February 1, 2008

Late last year, I had the experience of a lifetime, a personal visit with Ebby Halliday of Dallas.

For those of you who don’t know Ebby’s story, she’s been operating her brokerage, Ebby Halliday, REALTORS®, for 62 years. She’s a former president of the national Women’s Council of REALTORS® and a former member of NAR’s Executive Committee. In 2005, she won the Horatio Alger Award, which goes to Americans who’ve overcome early adversity to achieve professional success. Past winners include Bob Hope, Ronald Reagan, and Oprah Winfrey. In the business community and within our industry, Ebby is a living legend.

Ebby turns 97 next month, so as I approached her house I was prepared to meet a frail woman with perhaps more focus on the past than on the future.

I couldn’t have been more mistaken. Ebby herself answered the door, prepared our breakfast, and proved herself to be thoroughly engaged in the brokerage business that has borne her name since 1945.

I asked Ebby how she has maintained such a top-notch company for so long. She said she founded her company on three points of service that are still sacred to her and to her 1,600 associates and staff:

1. Dedication, loyalty, and service to clients.

2. Service to the community.

3. Service to the real estate industry.

Ebby’s faithful adherence to these principles over more than a half century is testament to their power.

For Ebby, customer service has been a way of life since 1929, when she graduated from high school and began earning her living selling hats. When she switched to homes in the 1940s, she brought with her the adage that the customer is always right.

Serving the community has been just as important in Ebby’s life. She gives generously of both her time and money and encourages others to get involved. Her company awards the Ebby Rose of Distinction to Dallas-area citizens who serve their community.

Finally, there’s service to the profession. In our centennial book, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®: 100 Years in Celebration of the American Dream, Ebby describes how being involved in NAR has contributed to her success — enabling her company to be on the cutting edge during such critical junctures as the development of the MLS and adoption of computers.

No matter how large we are — and Ebby runs the 13th largest residential brokerage in the nation, according to REALTOR® magazine’s latest ranking — we can’t do it alone. When we work together on behalf of our industry, each of us benefits individually.

After receiving the Horatio Alger Award, Ebby commented that good work and a good attitude had opened many doors for her. Amen! I hope you take inspiration, as I do, from this caring, strong, and wise icon of American real estate.