t Troubled Times Postwar Prosperity ‘60s Boom ’70s Slowdown Healthy Uptick Realtor ion Mode Embracing Cyberspace 9/11 Shock Visibility & Volunteerism Riding Out the Re ® Name New Name. New Place. New Challenges. Birth of an Association Taking Flight Tro ® sperity ‘60s Realtor Boom ’70s Slowdown Healthy Uptick Realtors® Only Busy Time Expansion Canopy Association pace 9/11 Shock Visibility & Volunteerism Riding Out the Recession Building the Realtor ace. New Challenges. Birth of an Association Taking Flight Troubled Times Postwar Prosp wn Healthy Uptick Realtors® Only Busy Time Expansion Mode Embracing Cyberspace 9 eerism Riding Out the Recession Building the Realtor® Name New Name. New Place. New ciation Taking Flight Troubled Times Postwar Prosperity ‘60s Boom ’70s Slowdown Hea y Busy Time Expansion Embracing Cyberspace 9/11 Shock Visibility & Volunteeris Discover 100 Years Mode of History ion Building the Realtor® Name New Name. New Place. New Challenges. Birth of an Asso d Times Postwar Prosperity ‘60s Boom ’70s Slowdown Healthy Uptick Realtors® Only B Embracing Cyberspace 9/11 Shock Visibility & Volunteerism Riding Out the Recession B New Name. New Place. New Challenges. Birth of an Association Taking Flight Troubled Tim 0s Boom ’70s Slowdown Healthy Uptick Realtors® Only Busy Time Expansion Mode Em Shock Visibility & Volunteerism Riding Out the Recession Building the Realtor® Name Ne hallenges. Birth of an Association Taking Flight Troubled Times Postwar Prosperity ‘60s B Uptick Realtors® Only Busy Time Expansion Mode Embracing Cyberspace 9/11 Shock Riding Out the Recession Building the Realtor® Name New Name. New Place. New Chall ation Taking Flight Troubled Times Postwar Prosperity ‘60s Boom ’70s Slowdown Healt y Busy Time Expansion Mode Embracing Cyberspace 9/11 Shock Visibility & Volunteeris sion Building the Realtor® Name New Name. New Place. New Challenges. Birth of an Asso d Times Postwar Prosperity ‘60s Boom ’70s Slowdown Healthy Uptick Realtors® Only B f an Association Taking Flight Troubled Times Postwar Prosperity ‘60s Boom ’70s Slowdo s® Only Busy Time Expansion Mode Embracing Cyberspace 9/11 Shock Visibility & Volu cession Building the Realtor® Name New Name. New Place. New Challenges. Birth of an Troubled Times Postwar Prosperity ‘60s Boom ’70s Slowdown Healthy Uptick Realtors on Mode Embracing Cyberspace 9/11 Shock Visibility & Volunteerism Riding Out the Rec ® Name New Name. New Place. New Challenges. Birth of an Association Taking Flight Trou sperity ‘60s Boom ’70s Slowdown Healthy Uptick Realtors® Only Busy Time Expansion M pace 9/11 Shock Visibility & Volunteerism Riding Out the Recession Building the Realtor® ace. New Challenges. Birth of an Association Taking Flight Troubled Times Postwar Prospe wn Healthy Uptick Realtors® Only Busy Time Expansion Mode Embracing Cyberspace 9/ erism Riding Out the Recession Building the Realtor® Name New Name. New Place. New ciation Taking Flight Troubled Times Postwar Prosperity ‘60s Boom ’70s Slowdown Heal Busy Time Expansion Mode Embracing Cyberspace 9/11 Shock Visibility & Volunteeris on Building the Realtor® Name New Name. New Place. New Challenges. Birth of an Asso Canopy100.com Canopy100.com d Times Postwar Prosperity ‘60s Boom ’70s Slowdown Healthy Uptick Realtors® Only B Embracing Cyberspace 9/11 Shock Visibility & Volunteerism Riding Out the Recession Bu
Canopy Through The Decades
TABLE OF CONTENTS Section I Gaining a Foothold, 1921 - 1945 Birth of an Association
Section II Picking Up Momentum, 1946 - 1979 Postwar Prosperity
Section III Hitting Stride, 1980 - 1995 Realtors® Only
Section IV Raising the Bar, 1996 - 2006 Embracing Cyberspace
Canopy Through The Decades
Visibility & Volunteerism
Publisher: Canopy Realtor® Association
Section V Nurturing the Brand, 2007 - 2021 Riding out the Recession
Executive Editor: Kim McMillan, Vice President Marketing and Communications
Building the Realtor® Name
Editor: Susan Shackelford, Independent Contractor
New Name. New Place. New Challenges.
Writers: Susan Shackelford, Gail Zehner Martin
Designer: Tara Howie, Creative Services Specialist Marketing and Communications
Association Presidents Award Recipients
Pearl Society Founding Members 106
Canopy Realtor® Association 1120 Pearl Park Way | Charlotte, NC 28204 Copyright@2021 Canopy Realtor® Association
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Canopy Through The Decades
Inspirational Energy 100 years of milestones
Depending on when, exactly, you are reading this magazine, you may wonder what it was like to exist in 2021, a year in which local Realtors® marked Canopy Realtor® Association's 100th Anniversary. To understand May 18, 2021, let's rewind to Friday, March 13, 2020, which was the day President Donald Trump declared the coronavirus pandemic a national emergency. Since then, our nation has experienced over 30 million coronavirus cases, more than half a million deaths and an unemployment rate rivaling numbers not seen since the Great Depression. Additionally, the temperature of racial tensions has risen dramatically, our nation's Capital Building was attacked to protest a highly contested presidential election and, somehow, a once-in-a-generation real estate market emerged. As I write, the red-letter date of May 18, which marks our Association's inception, is just around the corner. Canopy's region continues to experience extraordinarily high demand, fueled by low interest rates and years of steady population growth outpacing home construction. Buyers in our metro area are quickly purchasing almost every listing coming to market. Inventory has reached a critically low level, down more than 70 percent since March 2020, leaving just 18 days of supply and exacerbating affordability. 2021 President David Kennedy
Our region is one of the top three destinations for buyers nationwide. People are relocating here to the tune of about 120 a day, based on the Census. But perhaps there is a blessing amid this data in that Charlotte isn't growing just to grow. There's actually a 2040 Comprehensive Plan under consideration for Charlotte-Mecklenburg that aims to steer intelligent growth for the next 20 years. The plan’s not perfect, but it’s a valiant effort in which time will tell how, or if, it impacts our region. Within these pages are 100 years of real estate milestones accomplished by the Canopy Realtor® Association; however, you won't find who made the most money or sold the biggest home. Instead, you'll find everyday accounts of ordinary people doing extraordinary things in response to the pertinent issues of the day. If you're lucky, the stories within these pages will come to life and inspire you to make history of your own. As luck would have it in 2009, I read “Selling Charlotte: 85 Years of Realtor® Excellence,” edited by Susan Shackelford and Lila Rash, and spearheaded by 2006 Association President Gay Dillashaw. That book galvanized me to volunteer at the Association. Since 2009, I have witnessed much of the history detailed in these pages, and I consider myself the better for it. This magazine is an update to the book that inspired me over a decade ago. I began serving the Association in 2010, shortly after completing Canopy’s Leadership Academy, where there are no two better people to orient you to our organization than Kim Walker and Tara Howie. My first official volunteer role was with the Canopy Housing Foundation Committee, where Executive Director Terri Marshall’s overwhelming dedication to housing needs is unmatched. To date, she has shepherded more than $630,000 in community grants and awards to address unmet housing needs as well as overseen a $1 million impact in critical homeowner repairs through our Realtors® Care Day. I learned at the feet of Kim McMillan via the Communications Advisory Group how different communication models can be used to drive innovation, brand awareness and so much more. Then, I served on the Audit, Budget and Finance Committee under CFO Michelle McCool and saw firsthand how a $28 million state-of-the-art headquarters was built on time, under budget and with 85 percent equity before the furniture was even delivered. I have witnessed CIO/CTO Steve Byrd grab the reigns of Member Services in the midst of remarkable membership growth and within the constraints presented by a pandemic — akin to the final, climactic charge by John Wayne’s Rooster Cogburn character
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Chapter 16 | Canopy Through The Decades
in “True Grit.” I have been blown away by how Michele McCaskill effectively guides and educates members through even the most heated ethics and arbitration hearings. I also have attended, hosted and been honored to be a part of Realtor® Hot Topics events — grateful the Canopy Real Estate Institute and Karyn Lindsey have been with me and many, many Realtors® every step of our real estate careers, offering so many opportunities and resources to learn and better serve customers and clients. Vice President of Human Resources Laura Cuddy was the upfit wizard on our new headquarters and during the pandemic led the Association’s quick pivot by staff to a work-at-home model, while still providing members limited on-site assistance in a safe way. With Canopy MLS, I have been amazed by the Priceless Gem herself Debbie Wey, who not only safeguards our Matrix system but serves nationally along with Steve Byrd to ensure Canopy MLS is an ever-evolving, leading platform for real estate transactions. I’m proud that our MLS provides the most accurate data in the market and supports a successful model of cooperation for practitioners as we serve people making one of life’s most important purchases, their home. You will undoubtedly hear other Realtor® associations tout their staff as the best, and deservedly so. Yet, in serving with CEO Anne Marie DeCatsye, I have learned how other Realtor® associations operate across the nation. At Canopy, there is a magical symbiosis between staff and volunteers, and she is the reason, our True North. While I may never be so bold to say we have the best staff because that may come across as arrogant, I can say emphatically that Canopy Realtor® Association would not have doubled in membership since 2013 without them. Canopy Realtor® Association would not be 100 years old without them. With the foundation laid by staff, I believe Canopy Realtor® Association’s very best days are yet to come. Our staff leaders, more than anyone, help Realtor® members who volunteer at the Association onto that bicycle of leadership, running along beside us and encouraging us to pedal. And, when we fall, they are the first ones to pick us back up. As good as the Realtors® honored by a mention in these pages are, we stand on the shoulders of great staff. Many Realtors® may not know that during the Recession, the Association’s employees temporarily froze their salaries and benefits to cut costs — which is one of the most selfless and inspirational acts of any staff of any organization I have ever known. I hope that staff can feel a deep sense of pride and accomplishment when reading this magazine, knowing that behind the Realtors® mentioned was often a partnership with staff, deeply rooted in the pursuit of a vision where all housing needs are met by productive Association members. My service to the Association has been the professional honor of my career, and I do not doubt that other Realtor® volunteers feel similarly. We get more than we give from staff, and it inspires us to do the same for our clients, customers and communities we serve. Our Association’s story is one account after another of Realtors® creating, adapting and reinforcing the ethical propositions for conducting business that reflect the unique characteristics of our industry. As Realtors®, we regulate our business to succeed only when our clients succeed. Most of us are principled, independent contractors with a belief that the broker/agent relationship suits our industry better than any one-size-fits-all approach. The real estate industry is not immune to the historical reflections that reveal past transgressions. Yet, within these pages, you will find an overarching theme bent toward fairness and justice as Realtors® strive to get it right. The importance of our industry trajectory is paramount given that real estate, when “purchased with common sense, paid for in full, and managed with reasonable care, is about the safest investment in the world,” as noted by our 32nd president, Franklin D. Roosevelt. The late rapper Nipsey Hussle said that the highest human act is to inspire. I hope these pages do just that, stimulating us to connect with our Creator's good works and to walk in the beauty and truth of our world to serve one another. May these pages inspire us to go forth and begin living our own contribution to the remarkable unfolding of our Association.
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Canopy Through The Decades
RIGHT PLACE, RIGHT TIME Reflecting on 20 years of leadership
Working at the Association is an honor and a privilege. For most of the staff, it isn’t a job or a career. It is our “other” home, it is our life. The 100th anniversary of our Association has prompted me to reflect on my 20 years at the helm of this great organization. I am grateful and humbled for the roles the staff and I have played. This is no ordinary organization and certainly no ordinary job. Among the staff, there are a substantial number of us who have tenure and longevity. The main reason is this is not a static place to work. This is not a static industry. We don’t just get a new president every year, well almost every year, but the industry is constantly changing. So, no year, let alone day, are ever the same, making it a challenge at times to succinctly summarize “What exactly do you do?”
Anne Marie DeCatsye, Esq. CEO, 2011-present
After lobbying for the Real Estate and Building Industry Coalition (best known as “REBIC”) for six years — effectively serving as the government affairs director for the Realtors® and home builders — I was slightly done with politics and looking forward to a low-key job in the corner as the Association’s general counsel, dealing with bylaws, rules and regs and contracts.
That did not last long (five short months) when I was hired to be the fourth CEO of the Association. 2001 President Mike Rash and the Board of Directors at the time took a chance and showed faith in me, and I have been determined ever since to not let them down. It has been quite a ride and one that I have enjoyed tremendously. The leadership that the staff and I have served have made this organization what it is. As we celebrate the 100th anniversary, we are witnessing the culmination of years of hard work, care and dedication by both volunteers and staff.
Starting with 9/11 When I step back and reflect on these past 20 years, it starts with 9/11. I was literally eight months into the position and was speaking at a firm’s sales meeting that beautiful Tuesday morning. I recall waiting in the lobby and there seemed to be a lot of commotion. I heard the receptionist say that the World Trade Center had been hit by a plane. The whole world seemed to speed up and slow down all at once. I was called into the meeting and told that everyone was too shocked to continue. I left. I headed back to the office. I thought about the role of a leader in a crisis and what my job was going to be when I got back to the Association. When I walked in, someone had moved a television into the lobby and the staff had gathered to watch the horror in dismay. We closed our doors; we all went home to be with our families. And thus began my firm message of “family first.” If God and family are first, I believe, then everything else falls into place. And so, we regrouped. Mike Rash, whom I learned years later was a Vietnam veteran who had seen firsthand the ravages of war, was determined to move us forward. He insisted we hang the largest American flag we could find off the side of our building as the membership gathered for our Fish Fry, a longtime annual event, a few weeks later. I will always be thankful for Mike’s patriotism and resolve as well as his gentle spirit and fun sense of humor — all of which helped us carry on in the face of the uncertainty we all struggled with after that fateful day in 2001. By 2003, the proposed changes of the Governance Task Force of 2001 became a reality. Our Association Board of Directors and MLS Board of Directors were separated, held together by a common Executive Committee. This achievement, way ahead of its time I now realize, was due to the belief and the commitment of the leadership that it was the right thing to do. It was the beginning of what we benefit from today, which is a nearly complete functional and financial separation of the two companies (the nonprofit parent Association and the for-profit MLS subsidiary), which make up Canopy. This separation of Association and MLS is something many MLSs around the country are just now addressing, and NAR is contemplating making such separation an MLS “best practice.” To us, it just made sense. And now we are in the process of another Governance Task Force looking at how we position ourselves for the future. 6 | canopy100.com
Canopy Through The Decades
Taking What We Heard to Heart But there is more to Canopy than the Association and the MLS. 2003 President Tony Smith and I attended an NAR Leadership Conference at which the president of NAR challenged local and state associations to focus their charitable efforts on housing. This led us to take a hard look at our charitable arm — what we know today as the Canopy Housing Foundation — that had been incorporated separately as a 501(c)(3) in 1985. Again, having even started a Foundation when we did, Canopy was ahead of its time due to the wisdom and foresight of the leaders before us. Taking what he heard to heart, Tony pushed for our Foundation to re-group, change its mission and focus strictly on housing. It was the beginning of many changes to follow. Among them, the Foundation started an endowed and nonendowed fund at the Foundation For The Carolinas in 2003 and pledged to raise $1 million by 2013. While that goal did not happen until last December because of the Great Recession—our Canopy Housing Foundation is recognized nationally for how Realtors® can be involved and care about their community and the entire housing continuum from homelessness to homeownership. We have been so fortunate to have the right president at the right time, time after time. Tony was the first contemporary of mine to be president. He was also the child of a Realtor®, as was I. The next two presidents, David Barnhardt and John Byers, were also close to my age and children of Realtors®. That seemed to solidify our friendships beyond just working together. I will be forever grateful to David, who gave me the assurance that everything would be fine in 2004 when I was preoccupied with the adoption of my child and ultimately took maternity leave. He gave me the peace of mind to focus on my daughter, Kate, and not worry about work. In 2005, John and his quirky sense of humor kept us all laughing while getting a lot done, including the start of our first member value campaign marked by those oval stickers with an old-fangled phone saying “Call a Realtor®”. In 2006, President Gay Dillashaw, so poised and gracious, had the foresight to capture our history while so many of our past leaders were still with us. She also had the conviction that Realtors® needed to defend their value to the consumer. Most Realtors® had done all the things they do for their clients without really telling their clients what was involved, making it “look” way too easy. Talking about your value was not something that was done and that needed to change.
Navigating The Great Recession As the Great Recession hit in 2008 and continued for several years, each president brought a slightly different way to focus as we continued to think of ways to reduce our costs. In 2009, President Donna Anderson, who chaired the first all-female Executive Committee, pushed for more education about professionalism. She was also president when the Foundation had its first Realtors® Care Day. On a very personal note, I would be remiss to not recognize that both Dot Munson, president in 2007 and 2008, and Donna were my rocks as I went through a tough divorce and started life as a single mom. They were in so many ways fairy godmothers to Kate and me. I don’t think I would have come out as strong as I did if it were not for the support of these two women in my life and I owe them a debt of gratitude! In 2010, President Lyn Kessie gave all the staff a boost by graciously inviting us to her alpaca farm in Waxhaw and treating us with a special picnic. It was a fun event in what was not exactly an enjoyable period of time. By 2011, with the recession still looming, Laurie Knudsen with her wry sense of humor and calm demeanor helped us stay the course and focus inward, including a review of Mingle School (now Canopy Real Estate Institute) that solidified the school as a member benefit. It also made education a top priority through our Speaker Series (now Realtor® Hot Topics), BIC Briefings and training sessions. As we started to crawl out of the recession in 2012, and short sales and foreclosures were at an all-time high, Jennifer Frontera could not have been more perfect for the role of president. Jennifer had spent much of her career working in the foreclosure market, and no one was better equipped to deal with the media on the topic than she was. It was also during Jennifer’s tenure that we continued to look inward and conduct an Internal Structural Review of every committee, its purpose, what worked well, what didn’t and what would make it better. It was a huge, time-consuming effort, but it positioned us well to hit the ground running as we made our way out of the economic slowdown. Laurie and Jennifer remain dear friends, not surprising considering the time we spent together working our way through the downturn! By the end of 2013, things were looking up during Eric Locher’s presidency. Eric gave me two gifts. He encouraged me to go out with someone I had met on match.com, and that someone is now my husband, John. He also honored me with his President’s Award at the end of his year. 7 | canopy100.com
Growing in Many Ways 2014 incoming President Joe Rempson invited representatives from the North Carolina Mountains MLS to attend our Association’s strategic planning meeting in the fall of 2013. It was Joe’s unflappable, low-key, nonthreatening approach that set the stage for a year-long negotiation for Canopy MLS to provide wholesale services to NC Mountains MLS. The negotiation culminated in a three-year agreement to do just that starting in October 2015. I would be terribly lax if I did not give a special shoutout to two women who graciously served two terms as president, Dot Munson in 2007 and 2008 and Maren Brisson-Kuester in 2015 and 2016. Both Dot and Maren deserve a lot of kudos for their selfless willingness to serve even in the most challenging of times. In both situations the incoming presidents could not fulfill their duties and when I turned to Dot and Maren to ask them to serve again, neither one batted an eye. During Dot’s two years, I believe she set the record for the most media calls and interviews taken by a president. She was also responsible for the start of our Diversity Council, making a commitment to make sure our future leadership was reflective of our membership. Again, having a Diversity Council start in 2006 was way ahead of its time. Today, in 2021, NAR is now requiring local associations as part of its Core Standards to have some component of what they to do address diversity, equity and inclusion. I’m glad to see that something we have been doing for years is finally taking off! Our Association will forever be in Dot’s debt for her insistence and vision. When I called Maren to say I was in a bind because the incoming president could not serve the following year, I remember her clearly saying, “Just tell me what you need me to do.” It was also during Maren’s tenure that the Association signed an agreement with Peter Pappas to sell the property it owned, while retaining an acre for the Association’s new headquarters and parking deck. Contract negotiations took up most of 2015 and 2016, so having the continuity of Maren serving for those two years ended up being critical to the success of the project. Maren was also incredibly energetic and, in her 30s at the time, one of the youngest presidents to serve. She was not afraid to push the boundaries and to fight for what she believed. She is another example of a selfless servant leader, and I was so proud to watch her ascend to be the president of the state association in 2020 — a year that needed strong leaders! When Roger Parham was elected and served as our first African American president, I remember thinking it was about time. It was almost embarrassing that we had not had an African American president at that point but again, right time, right president. Roger’s charismatic personality carried us over the finish line in encouraging the NC Mountains MLS to merge with Canopy MLS after just a year and a half of wholesaling to the organization.
Literally Moving into the Future As we started the design and construction of the new building, we could not have picked a better president for 2018 than Jason Gentry, who had an architecture degree and had worked in the field. He also had a keen eye for design in general and paid impeccable attention to detail — which was a huge asset during construction. It was also Jason's passion that if we were “starting anew” in our new headquarters, we ought to consider a possible new “brand” for the organization. And so the re-branding process started as we built our new HQ. So much change culminated in 2019 when Brenda Hayden was president. Change can be hard and very disruptive, but with Brenda, whom I had met in prelicensing class at Mingle 20 years ago, it was smoother than anyone could imagine. Smooth is probably an understatement when you consider that in 2019 we changed our name, held the 10th anniversary of Realtors® Care Day, moved into our new headquarters and started the Pearl Society, marked by a commissioned sculpture in our new lobby. Again, right president, right time.
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Chapter 16 | Canopy Through The Decades
At the end of Brenda’s presidential year, the senior staff all came up with three words to describe her, something we had never done. But there was something special about her, and we all felt it. A few of the adjectives to describe Brenda were: steady, poised, sincere, caring, passionate, kind and humble — in short, amazing. And just when we thought we couldn’t possibly have more change, 2020 happened. We literally spent a mere half hour at the February 2020 board meetings talking about in-person attendance and how many virtual meetings would be allowed for board members. Interestingly, board members from the Western Region strongly argued in favor of in-person meetings and then before the next meeting, COVID-19 happened.
Leading in a Pandemic What followed was a year full of challenges more so than changes, and 2020 President John Kindbom was again the right president at the right time. John’s mature confidence was exactly what we needed to get us through a year of not knowing where things were headed or when they would end. John had been my unofficial coach and mentor for years, and he and I were so looking forward to working together the year he was president, but it did not exactly turn out the way either of us had anticipated. In my almost daily morning conversations with John he remained calm, focused and positive. He led the rest of the year virtually, something we had never experienced before. It was a year of experimenting and learning. We failed some times and we won some times, but we got through it. I don’t think the year could have gone better under the circumstances. I will be forever grateful to John for his leadership and friendship. Now, in 2021, President David Kennedy — an avid, well-read history buff, quick on his feet, comfortable in front of a camera, smart as a whip and deft with the pen — is the perfect president to lead the celebration of our 100th anniversary. Our current Board of Directors is probably the most diverse we have ever seen. Diversity, equity and inclusion are clearly part of our culture.
A Few Final Thoughts As I finish writing this, the Nominating Committee has begun its diligent process of identifying potential interviewees to run for president, treasurer and the boards of directors for 2022. I am confident strong leadership will continue because we are seeing success from cultivating future leaders through our Leadership Academy: the number of willing members to be interviewed is at an all-time high. When I began as CEO, the Executive Committee was dominated by white men. I have seen it swing to all women, and we even had an entire Executive Committee that was (at least raised) Catholic — which I always found ironic considering we are in the South. As time passed, Executive Committee members became younger, and the mix of age, race and gender and gender identity continued. But the common thread in all of the successful leaders of our organization was that they served for the right reason. They served not for themselves or their ego, but because they truly cared about the organization. I wish I could write about all the Executive Committee members, task forces and committee chairs who have served the Association with their leadership, and all the committee members and Leadership Academy grads who have given us their valuable time over the years. Suffice it to say, Canopy has been, and continues to be, blessed with leaders who embody our mission to “lead, equip and educate” members. And the staff and I have been equally fortunate to work right along beside them. Looking at the future of this organization, long after I am gone, I am confident it will only get better.
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Canopy Through The Decades
Introduction + Acknowledgements In 1921, Ivey’s Department Store in uptown Charlotte was a popular gathering place for lunch. It was there that a handful of men in real estate sales gathered in May and June of 1921 to begin organizing what today is the Canopy Realtor® Association. By mid-July, the group was officially chartered as an affiliate of what today is known as the National Association of Realtors®. The first Charlotte president, F.C. Abbott, was like most of the other organizers — a real estate developer integrally involved in the growth of the young Southern city. The organizers started banks, assisted the Chamber of Commerce and other city leaders, often constructed commercial buildings and, of course, built and sold homes. Charlotte was growing at the time because of textile manufacturing, but it wasn’t the first North Carolina town to form a Realtor® association. Furthermore, the fledgling group’s first attempt at an MLS failed. Not until 1950 would the MLS emerge to stay. The Association persevered in the early years as developers created Myers Park, Eastover, Wilmore, Piedmont Park and other neighborhoods, and then rode out the Depression and World War II. These stories and many more paint the historical picture of Canopy Realtor® Association, as captured in “Selling Charlotte: 100 Years of Realtor® Excellence.” Preceding this online history, the Association commissioned a hardback book that covered the first 85 years of the group. This rendition captures the organization’s centennial, the first 100 years, and will be updated at this website with the ease of the internet as time moves on. The organization’s past and present reflect that of Charlotte’s in many ways. The Association came into being when the city was experiencing its first major growth spurt beyond the center city. And, as the city continued to attract people over the coming decades, residential real estate and Realtor® involvement in the community grew right along with it. Today Canopy Realtor® Association is the largest Realtor® group in North and South Carolina and its subsidiary, Canopy MLS, serves more than 20,000 members in both states. This story covers the first 100 years of an organization that debuted as the Charlotte Board of Real Estate in 1921 and became Canopy Realtor® Association in 2019. This account would not have been possible without the contributions
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of many past presidents, other Association leaders and members, and Association staff. It also would not have been as contextual and robust without two books that cast a bright light on residential real estate and city development. Historian Tom Hanchett’s insightful look at Charlotte’s growth after the Civil War — “Sorting Out the New South City: Race, Class and Development in Charlotte, 1875-1975” — was invaluable. The second edition came out in early 2020. Also, writer Ross Yockey’s history of the Crosland family and their home-building business, entitled, “The Builder: The Croslands and How They Shaped a Region,” was equally important. Much of this history first appeared in 2001 as a series in the Association’s monthly magazine, Realtor® Reflections. The Association’s vice president of communications and marketing at the time, Gail Zehner Martin, recounted the history through 2000 in honor of the organization’s first 80 years. She contacted approximately 30 past presidents and corroborated their accounts, when possible, through board minutes, newspaper archives, mayoral papers and newsletters provided by members. Unfortunately, the Association’s award-winning scrapbooks had been destroyed by that point, and changes wrought by four building moves, two floods and staff shifts had left little historical information at the association. The story since 2000 has been written by Susan Shackelford, who edited Realtor® Reflections magazine from mid-1996 through early 2006 and has continued to work as a writer and editor on behalf of the Association. She also edited the entire book. The symbiotic relationship between residential real estate and local growth and quality of life was evident to the Association’s early leaders and has remained an important focus throughout the years — demonstrated, most aptly, by the Association’s ongoing involvement in the business, civic and cultural life of the city. Most notably of late, the Canopy Housing Foundation has become an important player in the region’s response to affordable housing. After 100 years, members of the Canopy Realtor® Association take pride in how they’ve made a difference in the fabric of the region, not only by fostering cooperation to help clients but by taking an active role in the community.
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Canopy Through the Decades
gaining a foothold, 1921-1945 Chapter 1 | Birth of an Association Chapter 2 | Taking Flight Chapter 3 | Troubled Times
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Chapter 1 | Canopy Through The Decades
Birth of an Association City of movers and shakers found Charlotte Board of Real Estate
By the early 1920s, Charlotte was the center of the region’s textile and banking industries. more than 100 trains chugged through the city each day.
Realtors® have played an important role in the growth of Charlotte and the nature of that growth — even the nature of the city itself. With the rise of business and industry in the late 1800s came a growing interest in land, and a close relationship developed between the city’s business and real estate interests. It was within this crucible that the Charlotte Board of Real Estate was born in 1921.
The city was still reeling from World War I but beginning a growth spurt. The Charlotte Chamber of Commerce had promoted the city’s growth for decades, and Charlotte had received one significant economic boost during the war. The construction of Camp Greene, an Army training center just west of uptown, brought tens of thousands of soldiers and officers to Charlotte, many of whom rented or bought homes and some of whom eventually settled here. Comparing building permits from prior to the war to afterward shows an expanding community. From 1911 to 1919, permits were 1,250. In the eight years after World War I, there were 8,259 — a nearly six-fold increase, according to the book, “The Builder: The Croslands and How They Shaped a Region,” by Ross Yockey. By the early 1920s, Charlotte was the center of the region’s textile and banking industries, and more than 100 trains chugged through the city each day. Charlotte and its suburbs were home to approximately 62,000 people, and the Chamber claimed the city as home to “headquarters of the Carolinas of 14 | canopy100.com
over 200 corporations of national reputation,” according to The Builder’s account from the 1922 City Directory. That same city directory offered a preface from the Chamber of Commerce and ran this item.
"CHARLOTTE real estate offers wonderful possibilities to the investor. The big life insurance companies consider this city as one of the best in the country for mortgage loans. Practically all of them offer unlimited loans on business and residential property. Uptown business property has doubled in value within the last five years, while the business section has expanded from three to five blocks in every direction. One big real estate developer, engaged in the development of residential subdivisions, states that no investor in his houses has ever sold at a loss. The building and loan associations are the strongest of any city of its size in the U.S.A. with combined resources of over $14,000,000,000. Charlotte has never had a mushroom growth or “boom” period, but a steady consistent increase in population, business activity, and real estate values. Many fine suburban properties with excellent values have been developed within the last five years and this activity is now greater than ever before."
Clearly, Charlotte business and real estate interests have been closely entwined for a long time. So it’s not surprising that Realtors® have played a role in some of the city’s most influential decisions, policies and organizations. F.C. Abbott was one of the founders of the Charlotte Board of Real Estate (CBRE) and its first president in 1921. He and developer George Stephens had co-founded another organization in 1901 that grew over time to become even more
Chapter 1 | Canopy Through The Decades
famous. They founded Southern States Trust, which grew into American Trust, then North Carolina National Bank. The institution became NationsBank in 1991 and, after a huge West Coast acquisition in 1998, Bank of America. The Association began on May 18, 1921 or May 8, 1921, depending on what account you believe. Original board notes of the time are dated May 18, while later retellings give the date as 10 days earlier. The Association uses the May 18 date. Founding board members read like a Who’s Who of local real estate development in the early 1900s. Abbott, F.E. Harlan, O.J. Thies, E.C. Griffith, F.C. Abbott W.S. Alexander, wealthy First president, planter J.B. Alexander and Lee Charlotte Board of Real Estate Kinney were among the best known. Together, these men and their peers would influence the fundamental character of the city’s development for many years. By the time they founded CBRE, most of them had already made their mark. In 1899, W.S. Alexander was the powerhouse behind development of what today is known as the Elizabeth neighborhood. It included Piedmont Park, perhaps the most distinguished neighborhood of its time and a direct competitor with the city’s first suburb, Dilworth. One of his partners in the venture was Abbott, who had just come to town from Connecticut and hoped to make a full-time living as a real estate broker, rarely done at that time, according to historian Tom Hanchett in his book, “Sorting Out the New South City.” Another partner in Piedmont Park was Stephens, who would go on to develop Myers Park with the help of John Nolen, a young landscape designer who would become famous in his field.
Among other Association founders, Abbott developed the community of “Wilmoore” in the early 1900s, buying the Wilson and Moore family farms for the development. The community, located southwest of Dilworth, had West Boulevard as its main avenue and somewhere along the way lost an “o” and became Wilmore. Abbott also developed the Trust Building at 212 S. Tryon Street in 1903, a seven-story structure considered the city’s first office tower. “The Trust Building touched off a skyscraper boom that remade Charlotte’s downtown landscape during the next two decades,” Hanchett says. The building burned in the 1920s and was replaced with another well-known structure, the Johnston Building. E.C. Griffith, one of the Association's founders, began developing Eastover in 1927, an upscale neighborhood across Providence Road from Myers Park. Eastover's creation reflected society's growing use of the automobile. It was the city's first neighborhood without a link to the trolley.
Meanwhile, E.C. Griffith began developing Eastover in 1927, an upscale neighborhood across Providence Road from Myers Park. Eastover’s creation reflected society’s growing use of the automobile and was the city’s first neighborhood without a link to the trolley. Another early Association member, Lex Marsh Jr., also was destined for local recognition. An attorney by training, he entered real estate development in 1927 and would go on to serve as president of the Association in 1938 and to found the Home Builders Association of Charlotte in 1946. In the early 1920s, though, founding the Association was on the mind of those early leaders. They’d heard of local Realtor® boards in the nearby towns of Greensboro and Winston-Salem, and decided to check it out for themselves.
W.S. Alexander also developed Elizabeth Avenue and helped bring about Independence Park, created in 1904 from the drained land of an old municipal reservoir and contiguous park land he owned. Independence Park was considered vital to the success of Piedmont Park (see sidebar on next page), given the success of Latta Park in attracting people to Dilworth. W.S. Alexander also created the predominantly African American communities of Western Heights, near what is now Johnson C. Smith University, and Washington Heights, about a half-mile beyond the university on the west side of Beatties Ford Road. The Piedmont Park developers are credited with renaming old Lawyers Road as Central Avenue. The road’s original name — which still is the name of a road east of Albemarle Road — dated back to the 1700s, when lawyers would travel from Charlotte to the colonial legal center of Wadesboro. 15 | canopy100.com
Piedmont Park's chief competition was Dilworth, already underway and the city's first streetcar suburb. This double-ended, convertible car took folks to Latta Park in Dilworth for balloon ascensions, baseball games, football games or just for a ride on the lake. Courtesy: Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks
Piedmont Park: Once The Charlotte Neighborhood “It was a lovely, lovely place to live.” That’s how Charlotte resident Martha Cooper remembered Piedmont Park when it was the neighborhood in Charlotte in the early 1900s. Two of its developers were F.C. Abbott and W.S. Alexander, among the founders of the Charlotte Board of Real Estate in 1921. Piedmont Park preceded Myers Park and other upscale neighborhoods when it began in 1899. Its chief competition was Dilworth, which had begun about a decade earlier, in 1891, as the city’s first streetcar suburb. Piedmont Park was located slightly northeast of the central city, on either side of Central Avenue from Seventh Street to Louise Avenue, in what is today the Elizabeth neighborhood. When Piedmont Park began, Central Avenue was called Lawyers Road. F.C. Abbott and another developer on the project, George Stephens, rebuilt the farm road as a boulevard and gave it the name Central Avenue — which had the grandest homes in the area, including that of Abbott, the association’s first president. Side streets of primarily bungalows included Jackson, Sunnyside, Piedmont and Prospect. “From Seventh Street to Louise Avenue there were gorgeous Victorian homes on large lots with beautiful gardens,” Cooper recalled. Her grandfather, Dr. J.A. Austin, bought the second house in the development. Eight doctors, department store founder J.B. Ivey, banker B.D. Heath (also a partner in Piedmont Park) and manufacturer E.A. Cole owned homes in Piedmont Park. From a real estate standpoint, Piedmont Park was notable for two things — it broke with the city’s grid pattern of streets, and it was the first Charlotte neighborhood to have restrictive covenants, according to the book, "Sorting out the New South City," by historian Tom Hanchett. After that, deed restrictions became commonplace, including ones that set minimum housing costs and restricted areas by race. A typical Piedmont Park deed set a minimum housing cost of $1,500 and didn’t allow “Negroes.” Hawthorne Lane Methodist Church and its manse were in Piedmont Park, as was the home of merchant Charles W. Parker, founder of Parker-Gardner, a company that sold furniture and later musical instruments. 16 | canopy100.com
John Scott Trotter, orchestra leader for Bing Crosby with the Hal Kemp Orchestra, lived on Jackson Avenue in Piedmont Park. Hal Kemp, the big band leader himself, lived as a boy in a bungalow in nearby Elizabeth. Abbott gave a rose garden to the neighborhood between Sunnyside Avenue and Seventh Street, which was part of a park with trees. Cooper’s grandfather planted the trees and made his “boys” (her father and uncle) carry the water to them. A new school built for the area in the 1920s was at Jackson Avenue and 10th Street, and today is Piedmont Open IB Middle School. Cooper recalled that a streetcar went up Central Avenue from town and turned on Hawthorne Lane, making the neighborhood accessible to the uptown area. She remembers her mother’s stories of how popular it was to entertain medical students from nearby Presbyterian Hospital, which had been the location of a Lutheran women’s school, Elizabeth College. In Piedmont Park’s earliest days, Alexander had given the college the land to enhance the desirability of area. Though many longtime residents stayed, Piedmont Park experienced a steep decline between 1933 and World War II. Abbott’s rose garden met its demise, as did one or two neighborhood blocks, with the creation of Independence Boulevard in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Eventually, many of the grand Victorian homes along Central Avenue became boarding houses and fell into disrepair. The bungalows on the side streets also hit on hard times as people moved to the suburbs in the 1950s. Fortunately, the bungalows made a comeback in the 1990s and now is a popular area of the city. But the stretch on Central Avenue that once housed many of Charlotte’s wealthiest citizens in the early 1900s is a commercial area today, with only a few of the grand turn-of-the century homes still remaining and occupied by businesses. Piedmont Park, once the most fashionable place to live in Charlotte, is now mostly a memory.
Chapter 2 | Canopy Through The Decades
TAKING FLIGHT Association becomes official in July 1921, Attempts MLS In its first month, the Charlotte Board of Real Estate (CBRE) was still learning the value of a local association. A “delegation of Real Estate men of Charlotte met a delegation of Realtors® from Winston-Salem and Greensboro, driving them over the city and showing them the different suburbs, including Dilworth, Myers Park, Piedmont Park and Elizabeth,” according to notes from a May 18, 1921, CBRE meeting. The meeting’s purpose “was to explain to Charlotte Real Estate men the advantages of a Real Estate Board and how it worked in Winston-Salem and Greensboro.” After freshening up at the country club and dining at the Manufacturers’ Club, the group got down to business. “…after the workings of the National Association of Real Estate Boards was explained, and after an explanation of how local boards operated in conjunction with the National Association,” the notes recount, a motion was made to select a temporary president and secretary for a new Charlotte board. E.C. Griffith was nominated as temporary president and Frank Harlan as temporary secretary. The founders also chose committee chairs and set a time for an organizational forum. On May 31, the committees met at 1 p.m. in the private lunchroom of Ivey’s department store “for the purpose of establishing ways and means of an organization meeting at a later date,” meeting notes indicated. When the meeting went well, “it was unanimously voted that there would be no difficulty in organizing a permanent Real Estate Board in Charlotte.” Frank Harlan was temporary secretary of the budding Charlotte Realtor® association. He presided over the group in 1922.
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Ivey’s private dining room at 1 p.m. was also the time and place for the organizational meeting on June 8, 1921. The
group confirmed Griffith as temporary president and Harlan as temporary secretary. Both would later serve as president, Harlan in 1922 and Griffith in 1923. F.C. Abbott extolled the benefits of having an organized forum of “real estate men,” and Frank Smith reported that a “canvas (sic) of the real estate men of Charlotte … (showed) that the organization of a Real Estate Board was looked on favorably by a large majority.”
Many business practices, accepted and legal at the time, seem startling today. On March 15, 1922, less than a year after the board was founded, it set commission sales rates that were binding on members.
The group adopted the constitution and bylaws of the National Association of Real Estate Boards and elected Abbott as its first president. Abbott then made a speech about mutual benefits to be enjoyed by CBRE and local building and loan associations. Five weeks later, in mid-July 1921, the group received word that the national association had accepted its application. The organization was officially chartered. Four months later, Harlan attended a conference in November 1921 concerning the creation of a state real estate board. He summed up the optimism of the time: “My opinion is that Charlotte is now facing its largest period of growth,” he said, “and as business becomes more stabilized, we can expect to see a very great development in both city and suburban property during the next few years … which will help us all to overcome the hard times we have experienced during the war (World War I) and the period of readjustment which followed.” During the early years of the Association, practical matters such as late-dues payments and grievances took up the board’s time. But many business practices, accepted and legal at the time,
Chapter 2 | Taking Flight
Chapter 2 | Canopy Through The Decades
seem startling today. On March 15, 1922, less than a year after the board was founded, it set commission sales rates that were binding on members. These rates were published on pocket cards, which could be shown to buyers, signifying that the carrier was a legitimate businessman (there were no women at the time) and that the rates were just. Also, the board handled appraisals, doling them out to members in a fair rotation. A percentage of the appraisal fee went to the board. Because of the prominence of CBRE’s founders, the city called on the board for input into important decisions. Records show that in 1922 city officials asked CBRE to find a site on which to build Charlotte’s first moving-picture theater. After much study, a CBRE committee found a location on East Trade Street between Brevard and Caldwell streets. The Scottish Rite Masons were willing to sell the property for $35,000, and the board formed a corporation to sell stock to raise the money for theater construction. Chairperson O.J. Thies and his committee secured architect C.C. Hook to make tentative plans for the building. Hook presented his plans at CBRE’s December 13, 1922, meeting, and the board was impressed with what they saw. By February 1923, nearly two years after CBRE’s creation, the organization had arranged a daily real estate page in both of Charlotte’s daily newspapers. And the first documented discussion of creating a Multiple Listing Service occurred a month later, in March 1923. An executive committee named Harlan the first MLS chair and charged him with developing bylaws.
O.J. Thies headed the Association's committee to recommend a site for Charlotte's first movie theater.
The board envisioned an MLS that would set commission rates and take 5 percent of commissions in return for their services. This early MLS reported 27 members by October
1923 and 53 listed properties, including a noteworthy announcement that, thanks to the MLS, a sale had been made by someone other than the listing agent. But a year later, the fledgling MLS disappeared from board notes for some reason, and another MLS would not be attempted until 1950. The biggest MLS problem reported was the “overpricing of properties and not listing properties likely to sell quickly,” according to board notes from early 1924. CBRE also continued to take an active interest in community affairs. A March 1923 resolution called on school commissioners to beautify school grounds. Three months later, CBRE supported a campaign for city parks and playgrounds, which was backed by the mayor and to be paid for by a new tax.
The first documented discussion of creating a Multiple Listing Service occurred in March 1923.
In December 1923, CBRE recommended that the city hire a full-time tax assessor and made a motion to support a school bond of $2,000. Whether the motion on the school bond passed is unknown. Also in 1923, Harlan became the first president of the state association, known as the North Carolina State Association of Real Estate; and CBRE’s first female member, Helen Hoyle, joined the board. By January 1924, CBRE was organized to the point that the board voted to hold monthly educational meetings for members. The first such program followed in April. Despite Helen Hoyle’s membership on the board, the topic was “Laws of Interest to the Real Estate Man.” That same month, the board decided to publish a local real estate journal or bulletin, none of which is known to have survived. The same year, the board sponsored the “Own Your Own Home Exhibition” and debated how to “discourage or prohibit the indiscriminate auctioning of suburban property for residence (sic) purposes where it lies beyond the reach of city conveniences.” In late 1924, CBRE approved a new broker license and won a “Loving Cup” for attendance at the state real estate convention. Mention is made of interest in holding the 1925 convention in Charlotte. A big step for the board came in December 1925, when it approved maintaining an office and hiring a secretary. Board notes skip ahead from 1925 to 1928, when CBRE, then dominated by developers and property managers, was still doing appraisals, which comprised much of the organization’s cash flow. Establishing uniform appraisal
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Chapter 2 | Canopy Through The Decades
fees for the Charlotte market, then a thoroughly legal practice, was a subject of discussion in March 1928, according to board notes. Also in 1928, the education committee held a class on appraising and one on selling, which collectively drew 53 students and were deemed highly successful. In February 1928, board member J.H. Carson — who would later serve three terms as president (1925, 1934, 1935) — “favored the undertaking by the board of a home owning exposition.” Thus CBRE continued its “Own Your Own Home” exhibition and ran ads to encourage investment in real estate instead of “overvalued and inflated stocks.” Perhaps the board could foresee the stock market crash coming the following year. In 1930, CBRE became embroiled in a fight over zoning — which was proposed by landscape designer John Nolen, developed by consultant Herbert Swan and backed by the Charlotte city manager. J.H. Carson President, 1925, 1934, 1935
City officials asked the Association to help study the idea, which had been shot down by the Chamber of Commerce in 1917. It fared no better this time. Led by F.C. Abbott, real estate leaders and businessmen derailed it again, according to historian Tom Hanchett in his book, “Sorting Out the New South City.” Developer George Stephens attacked the proposal as “a serious damage to all property owners.” City officials discarded the zoning idea, and the city manager was fired. But Hanchett noted that the zoning that would be enacted many years later after World War II bore a striking resemblance to the ideas of Nolen, who would go on to become well known nationally for his planning initiatives and had designed Myers Park in Charlotte. Yet as spirited as the scrap was over zoning, it paled in comparison to what would lay ahead for Charlotte real estate: the Great Depression.
Charlotte's West Trade Street near The Square was a busy intersection in the early 1920s.
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Chapter 3 | Canopy Through The Decades
Great Depression, World War II Throttle housing market In the 1930s, Charlotte suffered through the Great Depression, brought on by the stock market crash, inflated commodity prices, land speculation and other factors that created a perfect economic storm. Banks closed, people were out of work and real estate values plummeted. “Fully ten millions (of dollars) of property was foreclosed (on) in Charlotte,” recalled F.C. Abbott in a retrospective on Charlotte real estate. “I could have at one time during this period stand (sic) at Independence Square and point to $5,000,000 in uptown property in distress, and several hundreds of homes were foreclosed, including later more than 100 HOLC homes.” The HOLC was the Home Owners’ Loan Corporation, an organization the federal government created during the Great Depression to refinance homes in distressed areas. Lex Marsh Jr. reduced the price of his lots in Eastover from $2,500 to $250, according to the Crosland company history, “The Builder.” J.H. Carson, Association president in 1934 and 1935, recounted a story to Ward Mullis — who would lead the association many years later, in 1988 — about just how bad it was. Lex Marsh Jr. President, 1938
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The national association was meeting in Cincinnati and asked for a Charlotte
delegate. The Charlotte treasurer — who commented that he didn’t know why he attended meetings since there was no money — had to tell Carson there was no money to send a representative to Cincinnati. So Carson picked C.W. Todd, whom he knew to have relatives in the Cincinnati area, and Todd hitchhiked to Ohio and back to attend the meeting. By 1936, CBRE had grown to 44 members and seven associate members. The next year, board leaders S.T. Henderson, H.Y. Dunaway, O.J. Thies, J.H. Carson, Lex Marsh Jr., Frank Harlan and Lee Kinney worked with appraisers from HOLC to “standardize credit analysis… Such a body of information would allow investors to underwrite mortgages knowledgeably no matter how distant the city,” according to the book, “Sorting Out the New South City,” by historian Tom Hanchett. But the standards also had deleterious effects based on race and class. African American and blue-collar areas primarily were rated “undesirable,” while white middle and upperclass areas were rated good or outstanding, according to the Crosland history, “The Builder.” Not long after establishing the HOLC standards, the federal government created the Federal Housing Administration, which provided government backing for home loans for the first time. This would protect lenders from losses due to delinquent borrowers, whose troubles had helped bring on bank closures in the Depression. Banks began to reenter the mortgage business, and home builders could think about building more than just a house or two at a time. Coupled with the HOLC ratings, government-backed loans eventually breathed a new, more vibrant life into the home industry, noted “The Builder.”
Chapter 3 | Canopy Through The Decades
An interesting footnote to 1939 was the CBRE board’s vote against publishing a composite list of properties for sale in the newspaper. The fear was that such a large list would depress the market — which was still reeling. In 1940, F.C. Abbott noted in a speech to the Association: “Today, practically all of this business property in the uptown district has been S.T. Henderson taken over by new owners and is President, 1926 off the market; and a very large proportion of these home properties have been re-purchased at close prices and, as the remaining distressed property is absorbed, prices will be stabilized once more at more nearly real values; although, I presume it will be some years yet before the peak prices of 1929 are restored.”
Banks closed, people were out of work and real estate As World War II loomed, values plummeted. “Fully Abbott predicted a ten millions (of dollars) of lasting economic boost property was foreclosed from the war effort, a forecast that proved to (on) in Charlotte,” be too optimistic for recalled F.C. Abbott. Charlotte. “Industry
just now under the immense defense preparations is being greatly stimulated and, because of this activity and heavy reemployment, general business will also be stimulated; and real estate should share in this new prosperity,” he said. In the first nine months of 1941, Abbott said in later speech, 1,064 homes were built in Charlotte, a staggering accomplishment, but the momentum wouldn’t be sustained. Once the U.S. entered the war in late 1941, building dropped precipitously. Much of the Association’s recorded discussion centered on the need for wartime housing, the effect of rationing and the housing shortage. Morris Field, a local quartermaster operation as well as other war activities, brought in military officers with families who needed shelter. Charlotte landed the opportunity to build 225 houses for war workers. But that was the only new housing built for four years, according to “The Builder.” Charlotte builders John Crosland Sr. and Lex Marsh Jr. set up shop during the war on the North Carolina coast, where there was more demand for wartime housing. Frank R. Thies Sr., the son of O.J. Thies, was Association president at the beginning of World War II. According to an
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interview with him for the Association’s magazine, Realtor® Reflections, in 1996, there were only 20 members then — which, if the number is accurate, would mean that membership had declined more than 50 percent since 1936. A city map from 1942 showed Charlotte’s population at 100,899 as of the 1940 census. Thies was president in 1940 and 1941, but his memories of the city went back to 1910, when “Charlotte was just a wide place in the road” and “an important cotton center,” he noted. His family’s real estate and mortgage company had begun in 1906, and he remembered the effort to encourage people to come to Charlotte. “We would put signs out along the roads in the countryside,” he said. “They would say ‘Thirty miles to Charlotte,’ and down the road, ‘Twenty miles to Charlotte.’ Our slogan was ‘Watch Charlotte Grow.’”
Frank R. Thies Sr. President, 1940, 1941
Real estate was an exciting business, even then, he said. “We were all friends. We met and discussed real estate problems, and we didn’t fail to express our opinions of each other when the notion struck us.” Lee Kinney, president in 1936 and 1937, nominated Thies for president, and Thies said he wound up serving a second term “because I wasn’t at the meeting to defend myself.”
“My platform when I took office was closer cooperation among members and more money in the bank,” Thies recalled. “The treasury was on a hit or miss basis, mostly miss.” Willis Henderson Sr. followed Thies as president in 1942 and 1943. Henderson, too, was part of a longtime family real estate company in Charlotte. His family’s firm dated back to 1898. Henderson recalled how Realtors® worked with the Charlotte Chamber to build or find housing for officers and their families during World War II. “Despite housing shortages, we took care of them,” he said, noting that many people who had gone off to war or moved to follow members in the service had left housing vacancies. Lee Kinney
President, 1936, 1937
Chapter 3 | Canopy Through The Decades
Henderson says the cooperation of Realtors® with the war effort is one of the things he is most proud of from his two terms. The effect of gas and tire rationing on collecting rents was considerable, he said. Realtors® weren’t able to convince the rationing committee that they deserved extra rations, so Henderson bought a motorcycle. Even then, tires made from reprocessed rubber only got 6,000 or 7,000 miles, he said. Henderson had started in real estate in 1931, and “the bottom dropped out in 1934 when residential loans went bad,” he remembered. There was no sales department in his company, so he did some sales along with collecting rents of $1.50 a week in the old Brooklyn section of downtown, a predominantly African-American area that would be torn down in the 1960s as a part of federal urban renewal. He also sold insurance. Henderson had great respect for the Association’s first president, F.C. Abbott. “Young Realtors® looked up to him,” he recounted. “I never forgot — he said, ‘Population makes values’” — something that certainly has proved to be true in Charlotte, then and now. During Henderson’s first term as president, 1942, CBRE changed its name to the Charlotte Board of Realtors®. The Association met at Thackers Restaurant and had 47 members, one of whom was female. Mrs. Byrd Holland’s presence is recorded in board notes throughout the period. Among the biggest changes during Henderson’s presidential tenure was the organization of a property management group, which Henderson helped create and run. CBR’s board formalized the group’s rules, regulations and ethics.
Willis Henderson Sr. President, 1942, 1943
“Charlotte started taking off,” Henderson recalled. “We needed better organization, so we started the property management and listing service. Back in those days, it was customary to charge a 5 percent commission. Some brokers — they were not members of the board, incidentally — they would charge 3 or 4 percent. A lot of these fellows didn’t know what they were doing.” Henderson remembered that in a good week he would earn $25, and in a bad one, $15. After the war, Henderson and his nephew formed T&W Homes, which sold houses to returning GIs from 1945 to the early 1950s. Association member Brevard Brookshire, whose brother Stan Brookshire was later Charlotte mayor, remembered that for five years during wartime, there was practically no building at all. 9 22 | canopy100.com
There was a “great void,” he said, and some builders began selling modular homes that could be built in sections, like a Sears home. Quonset huts from Army bases also were recycled into dwellings during the height of the housing shortage. It took at least three to four years after the end of World War II for supply to catch up with demand, Brookshire said. T.R. Lawing Sr., who would go on to be Association president in 1965, recalled that many builders who built postwar housing had their own sales people and didn’t list through Realtors®. So Realtors® focused primarily on resales and second homes and sold property insurance as well. Association socials during the ’30s and ’40s featured an annual summer picnic and party at the Red Fez Club, south of town on Lake Wylie. “They were real good (times),” Henderson said. “They helped us get away from this cutthroat business. When you get to be friends, you don’t want to take advantage of someone.” Henderson also played jazz piano in a Realtor® quartet that included Frank Harlan, Mike Ansley and Hardin Massey. “I was a boogie-woogie man,” he said. H.Y. “Sonny” Dunaway Jr. and Kemp Dunaway Sr. date their memberships back to 1947. Their father, H.Y. Dunaway Sr., had been board president in 1931. When the sons became Realtors®, “you could build a good house for $10 a square foot and sell it and make a profit,” they said, mentioning the remarkable rise in values over the years. A house on Myers Park’s Maryland Avenue that was built in 1950 for just under $20,000 sold in the spring of 2000 for $377,000, they note. In lieu of an MLS in the late ’40s, Realtors® advertised their listings in the newspaper or called fellow agents about them. Sometimes, Association members would go to Thackers Restaurant and tell each other about prime listings, Charlotte was like a big small town, and the Dunaway brothers recalled that it was impossible to walk around uptown without running into people you knew. “Farming” for leads was mostly word of mouth, just asking friends and acquaintances whether they knew anyone interested in buying or selling a home. The brothers also remembered the newhome boom after the war. Government loans “primed the pump,” and developers H.Y. Dunaway President, 1931 began building large developments. GIs could borrow 100 percent in those days, and even for many others, loans were attractive and downpayments were small.
Chapter 3 | Canopy Through The Decades
Charlotte’s three tallest buildings were the Johnston Building, the Liberty Life Building and the Independence Building. Other than a few theaters, the City Club and restaurants like S&W and Delmonico’s, there wasn’t much action uptown, the brothers said. Yet after many tough years during the Depression and World War II, real estate was finally on the upswing.
Located on Trade and Tryon at the heart of the city, this 1909 building was the first steel-frame skyscraper in North Carolina. The Independence Building was renovated and expanded in 1928. The building was imploded on Sept. 27, 1981 to make way for One Independence Center. Source: Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission
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The 1927 First National Bank Building located at 110 and 112 South Tryon Street is the tallest and one of the most prominent pre-World War II buildings in Charlotte. The 20-story First National Bank Building was once the tallest building in the Carolinas and remained the tallest building in Charlotte for 40 years. Source: Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission
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Canopy Through the Decades
picking up momentum 1946-1979 Chapter 4 | Postwar Prosperity Chapter 5 | '60s Boom Chapter 6 | '70s Slowdown Chapter 7 | Healthy Uptick
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Chapter 4 | Canopy Through The Decades
Postwar prosperity "The Multiple" established, Mingle named Executive Officer
Vane Mingle became the first executive officer of the association in 1957, the same year the state adopted a licensing requirement to sell real estate.
As World War II ended, the Charlotte home-building industry slipped back into gear, spurred by demand as well as by actions of city leaders and the federal government.
A 1945 survey showed Charlotte needed approximately 3,000 homes to meet postwar needs, and The Charlotte Observer trumpeted the resurgence of the home market with this headline on August 18, 1945, three days after the Japanese surrendered: “Charlotte Construction Boom Looms as War Ends — many projects to start,” according to the Crosland history, The Builder. “The end of the war and the expected early relaxing of building restrictions are adding new importance to construction plans amounting to large sums of money which have been announced for Charlotte in the postwar period,” the Observer story said, according to The Builder. “Any real estate firm, development agency, or housing contractor who wants to erect homes on undeveloped property within the city can come down to city hall, get his plans approved, and start work with the assurance that the municipal crews will begin the job of laying necessary water and sewer lines and completing the city’s part of the street work so that the finished houses will be ready for immediate occupancy,” the Observer story also noted.
Charlotte Mayor Herbert Baxter had taken action the year before to tap federal funds to be made available to cities to support postwar growth. To help the city qualify for loans under the War Mobilization and Reconversion Act, Baxter appointed Charlotte’s first planning commission in December 1944, according to The Builder. The planning commission drafted standards for homes and drew up a subdivision ordinance that turned many recommendations from the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) — created during the Depression — into city policy. At the FHA’s urging, Charlotte instituted its first zoning ordinance in 1947. Realtors® had opposed zoning in the 1930s but had a change of heart. “After they saw what it led to — better property values — they liked it,” said Brevard Brookshire, an Association treasurer in the early 1960s. After the war, the city helped builders meet the housing demand by speeding up the permitting process and, for the first time, providing water and sewer lines prior to the start of a project, said The Builder. The home market also benefited from the creation of the Veterans Administration and its mortgage program, which gave GIs the opportunity to buy homes with little to no down and 30 years to pay off the loan.
John Dwelle Sr. President, 1950
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An issue at the time was rent control; rents had been frozen at Depression-era prices during World War II. A paucity of apartments exacerbated the postwar housing shortage. The apartments that did
Chapter 4 | Canopy Through The Decades
exist were small, and rent controls put a damper on new construction, said John Dwelle, president of the Association in 1950. At the same time, the city began to look at areas seen as slums, where inexpensive rentals were often in poor condition.
sharing commissions, he said. One prominent broker who opposed the MLS loudly proclaimed that “everybody’s business was nobody’s business,” recalled Charles Ritch, Association president in 1974.
Another trend that started after the war was the desire of people to live farther from uptown, a phenomenon driven by widespread use of cars and experienced in other cities as well. Realtors® Sonny and Kemp Dunaway recalled that “everyone wanted the suburbs” in the 1950s and 1960s.
Still “The Multiple,” as it was usually called then, began to grow. A core of members led by former president Lex Marsh Jr. saw to it, Brookshire said. Stuart Elliott, 1963 president, recalled that Marsh and big real estate companies pushed the service. Catherine Colson, the first MLS staff member, is remembered fondly by many. She kept the books and recorded sales.
Neighborhoods like Foxcroft in southeast Charlotte and other neighborhoods even farther out Providence and Carmel roads had 100-foot lots and lots of one to two acres. The Dunaway brothers, whose father H.Y. had been Association president in 1931, developed the Cloisters and Pellyn Woods. They laugh when they think back on people telling them they were going too far out. Prices at that time in the Cloisters ran from $3,500 to $6,000 an acre. As suburbanization started, the MLS was reborn. On Feb. 24, 1950, it was incorporated as a nonstock, nonprofit corporation and dubbed the Charlotte Multiple Listing Bureau. An early attempt at an MLS during the Association’s second and third years, 1923 and 1924, had failed for reasons now lost to posterity. When the idea of an MLS took hold again, Dwelle remembered 10 Realtors® putting up $100 each. They hired a secretary, picked a chairperson and set up an office in Latta Arcade on Tryon Street. They also established forms to fill out, rules to abide by and sent out a weekly list in a notebook. Prior to that, Realtors® had met uptown at Kress’s department store, passing around mimeographed listings or giving verbal reports. It was hard to get people to join the fledgling listing service, Dwelle recalled. Most of the Association’s estimated 60 members lacked faith that other agents would turn in their best listings. Nonetheless, the MLS “took off after two or three years,” he remembered. Typically, pages for the weekly notebook were mimeographed, and if a Realtor® had a slow afternoon, he or she might drop by the office to help the secretary turn the large print drum, which operated the hand-powered duplicating machine, Dwelle said.
Stuart Elliott President, 1963
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Former Association treasurer Brevard Brookshire believes the MLS was “one of the greatest things.” Prior to its successful relaunch, many agents refused to share listing information to avoid
In 1950, much of the board’s income still came from appraisals, something that dated back to the early years of the Association. Requests for appraisals were “farmed out fairly” to members by a committee, with a fee for the service returning to the board, Dwelle said. But during the war with the scarcity of home sales and Association dues ($25 annually at the time), the Association became financially strained. In 1950, five years after the war had ended, the board couldn’t afford to send its officers to the national convention. “In those days, we worked at getting along,” recalled Dwelle, who had started in real estate when he was 13 years old, collecting 10-cent rents on his bicycle. “We’d do a little of everything — appraisals, mortgages, insurance, property management. People now specialize.” Vane Mingle became the first executive officer of the Association in 1957, the year the state adopted a licensing requirement to sell real estate. Also in 1957, on July 2, the Association incorporated as a nonprofit corporation in North Carolina called the Charlotte Board of Realtors®. Mingle, who later founded the Mingle School of Real Estate with his wife “Mike,” held the executive officer post until 1960. Ralph Edwards followed him from 1960 to 1961, and Phil Alexander came after that from 1961 through 1985. In his new role, Mingle could see opportunities on the horizon. “When you’re the first executive officer, there’s room for innovation,” he said. When Mingle realized how little new members to the Association knew about the Code of Ethics or Association services, he developed an orientation course — which he believed to be the first in the nation. He sent the curriculum to the state association, which forwarded it to national, and soon Mingle was fielding calls from across the country. He also published a bulletin called “Splinters from the Board,” which provided news on ethics, real estate law and member accomplishments. When the MLS was still in its infancy, not even a decade old, Mingle visited the real estate board in Louisville, Ky. He returned with the idea of adding photos to MLS listings — an innovation met with resistance by some “old timers,” but a change that soon became integral to the service, he remembered.
Chapter 4 | Canopy Through The Decades
Mingle also brought about the Realtor® of the Year award. When he attended the national convention in San Antonio, he saw the national Realtors® group present a similar award for the first time. After Mingle learned how it was structured, he suggested the Association bestow a similar honor. To avoid a conflict of interest, the Association board instructed Mingle to pick the first recipient. He chose Lex Marsh Jr., who was honored in 1959. Founding member and former president Frank Harlan provided a trophy, which has since been known as the “Harlan Cup” and is still awarded today. Marsh and Mingle also began the tradition of having past award recipients pick the next year’s winner, which continues to this day as well. For a complete list of Realtor® of the Year winners, see page 104. Also in the late 1950s, Brevard Brookshire helped form the Charlotte Property Management Bureau (CPMB) in 1957. A similar group had begun in the early ’40s, and why it died out isn’t known, perhaps because of World War II and the subsequent decline in new construction. “There were unethical practices,” Brookshire said. “Because of an
organized board, we cut ethics problems by 90 percent and cleaned up the practice.” T.R. Lawing Sr., who would serve as Association president in 1965, noted the CPMB was a response to a generational gap in credentials. Longtime property managers didn’t have the time or see the need to earn a new property management credential, and without it, could not join the new national Institute of Real Estate Management. So the Association’s property management bureau gave both groups of managers a forum to network until the torch passed to the younger generation. By the late 1950s, the Association was prosperous. Mingle recalled the Christmas party of 1958, when veteran Realtors® Jim Carson and Henry Harkey looked out over the approximately 150 Realtors® in attendance. Harkey leaned over to Carson and said, “What in the hell are we going to do with all these Realtors®?”
“When you’re the first executive officer, there’s room for innovation,” Vane Mingle said. When Mingle realized how little new members to the Association knew about the Code of Ethics or Association services, he developed an orientation course — which he believed to be the first in the nation. Vane Mingle
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Association hits 500 members, Builds headquarters The 1960s emerged as a watershed decade for the Association. Not only did the MLS prosper, so did membership rolls. The Association gained its 500th member in 1966, its first African American member in 1967 and moved into its own building in 1969. More women also began to enter the profession. Woven into the fabric of the decade as well were urban renewal, blockbusting, public housing and fair housing, national realities that affected Realtors® here and throughout the country. Harry Brown became president in 1961. He followed 1960 President Paul Guthery, who had served in the same capacity in 1939. A major occurrence in Brown’s administration was the hiring of Phil Alexander as executive officer. The year Alexander began with the Association, 1961, the organization recognized its 40th anniversary, and many state and national Realtor® leaders came to a celebration. Members also sold $12 million in listings that year, a big record, Brown remembered. The Association also became a hub of social events in the 1960s, sponsoring everything from “Ole Timers” Celebrations for past presidents to dressy dances and luncheons, and continuing the popular annual family picnic on Lake Wylie at the Red Fez Club. Members would motor their boats to club, play bingo and dance.
1931 President Sonny Dunaway called the picnic “the event of the year ... a chance to get people out and on an easy-going basis, and you could network with people.” 1963 President Stuart Elliott remembered the picnics as nice outings with good participation. “There wasn’t much going on in Charlotte for entertainment,” he said.
The Association became a hub of social events in the With the Association offices 1960s, sponsoring still in the Latta Arcade everything from uptown, the Charlotte Board of Realtors® opened “Ole Timers” a Library Room in 1964, Celebrations to offering a broad variety of books, directories, maps and dressy dances and periodicals. MLS statistics reported sales at 833 units luncheons and a for 1963 and 968 units for popular annual 1964, a 16 percent increase. The hesitancy of Realtors® picnic at the Red to enter properties into the Fez Club. MLS continued to fade.
Ike Wrenn, 1961 state association president (from left), 1961 Association President Harry Brown, 1963 Association President Stuart Elliott (back, far right) and Realtor® Ruth Roberts (front, far right). Others unidentified.
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Chapter 5 | Canopy Through The Decades
The Charlotte Property Management Bureau (CPMB), which had begun in 1957, thrived in the 1960s, and at one time Brown served as its president. The bureau had separate offices from the Association and held its own meetings. By 1964, CPMB had grown to 26 companies managing 18,000 to 20,000 residential and commercial units. Those numbers included almost 70 percent of Charlotte’s rental properties. The group grew so much that they moved their meeting from Thackers Restaurant to the Charlottetown Mall near Central Piedmont Community College, now the site of The Metropolitan, a mixed-use project that helped revitalize Midtown in the mid-2000s. Former Association CEO Roy Currie recalled that even into the late 1970s or early 1980s, CPMB had the ability to run credit checks and track the credit worthiness of renters. Keeping such extensive records and creating reports on prospective tenants generated enough work that the CPMB had its own secretary. The Association’s annual report in 1965 called that year “one of the most progressive and successful.” The Association had 450 members, 198 of whom held Realtor® status. The Association upgraded the library and research room at the Association’s office, which at that time had more than 100 books on real estate. Twenty members became Realtors® and 61 joined the board in 1965. The Association also completed more than 150 appraisals, with 109 members participating.
Legislatively, one of the highest profile activities was a proposal to the Charlotte City Council to enact an antiblockbusting ordinance. Lawing remembered that Realtors® took a strong position against blockbusting, which clearly violated the Realtor® Code of Ethics. He called blockbusters “that scum. That’s as bad as you can get.” While some real estate agents of the time engaged in blockbusting, Lawing proudly maintained that no Realtors® were involved. Had they been, “they would have been brought up on ethics charges,” he said. Urban renewal was a major issue of the day, with many strong opinions on the tearing down of neighborhoods to make way for new construction. The neighborhoods in question were predominantly in Second Ward and overwhelmingly African
Phil Alexander Executive Officer, 1961-1985
Programs in 1965 included Charlotte City Manager Bill Veeder speaking on “Progress In Our City Government” and an Ole Timers Celebration that featured a “Realtors® A-Go-Go” skit, which was an impersonation of the hottest musical group at the time, the Beatles. Members donned moptop wigs and strummed guitars. More routine activities included “Dollars & Donuts” sessions on the topic of problem listings, publicity during “Realtor® Week,” an essay contest on “What My Home Means to Me” and presentation of a fourth-annual Realtor® scholarship to Allan Wayne Mullis to attend Charlotte College, now UNC Charlotte. The 1965 annual report indicates that meetings and functions took place on nearly every business day during the year. Charlotte Realtors® also continued to play an active part at the state level, with T.R. Lawing Sr. serving as regional vice president of the state association. Realtor® Ralph Howey was president of the Home Builders Association of Charlotte.
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T.R. Lawing Sr. (left) led the Association as president in 1965. Pictured with him are Connie and Thornwell “Thorny” Guthery.
American. They included the Brooklyn neighborhood, which was once served by the park near the Association’s new headquarters that opened in 2019, now known as Pearl Park. Brooklyn and other neighborhoods affected by urban renewal generally contained lower and middle-class homes and businesses, and the people who lived and worked there were displaced. Reflecting on urban renewal, Lawing said there were “a lot of pros and cons,” but “from the Realtor® standpoint, it was good.” He believes the majority of Realtors® favored urban renewal. Years earlier, though, the Association had opposed urban renewal because they saw it as excessive government intervention. As an appraiser, Lawing saw properties increase in value as a result of urban renewal. Many of the homes that were torn down did not have indoor plumbing, he said. When they became new properties, there were office and motel sites to sell. In the late ’60s, the selection of a property at McDowell and Third streets for the new Association office was controversial because it was on the edge of the area undergoing intensive change. Public housing also arose from the dislocation of
Chapter 5 | Canopy Through The Decades
people from neighborhoods razed by urban renewal. Vacancies were a problem — there were waiting lists for public housing, while private lists had vacancies. Lawing said the public lists arose because they were infrequently updated and names remained on them long after the families had found a place to settle. Stuart Elliott’s memory of urban renewal also came from the point of view of an appraiser. “Urban renewal and the highway system made appraising a real business,” he said. “Before that, banks or savings and loan institutions often did appraising, sometimes for as little as two or three dollars an appraisal. The large number of appraisals required for urban renewal and the land clearing required to build interstate highways boosted the volume, and government programs raised both standards and fees.” Asked about urban renewal, Association member Jimmie Basinger said, “I was in favor of anything that would get people moving and shaking in Charlotte. It was progressive.” Basinger was Association president in 1969. J.C. Cousar entered real estate in 1966. “Urban renewal created movement,” said Cousar, who is African American. “People moved into untraditional neighborhoods. Some people felt threatened and moved out, some didn’t and still live in those neighborhoods.” Urban renewal created many first-time home buyers from the people who were displaced, helped by the city with downpayments for homes. This “freed up capital to many who wouldn’t have been able to buy,” Cousar noted. Dan Hennigan became the Association’s first African American member, in 1967. During urban renewal, he remembered there were few minority real estate agents “to offer defense to homeowners who felt the government offer on their property wasn’t fair.” He often went to court to win higher values for his clients, and won every time, a record he believed did not set well with some at the time.
Dan Hennigan became the Association's first African American member in 1967.
Hennigan saw it as his “responsibility to offer the full services of the real estate profession, especially to those who could not find support for their claims and rights.” Many companies in that era would not represent a claim against the government, he said.
As for the impact of urban renewal, Hennigan said, “In my judgment, more people were displaced than anything else.” The program replaced the people who moved out with more affluent property owners, and many who were displaced were “lost in the shuffle,” he said. When they moved, they took the character of their communities with them, good and bad. The old Brooklyn neighborhood in Second Ward was consistently in the top one or two areas of 31 | canopy100.com
the city for crime, he said. Breaking up groups that lived there helped lower crime. Hennigan called Cousar’s analysis a “logical observation. Urban renewal programs had an aspect of assistance built in” and helped some to move into new homes. “(But) personally, I had problems with how it took place — certain areas were targeted for these people to go, masterminded…,” Hennigan said. “Values were developed in certain areas…‘white flight’ brought down value, then minorities were brought in.” It was not left to chance, he asserted. “(Things were) systematically programmed where they (minorities) were to go. Displacement resulted in the reestablishment of the character of where they were.” Moving to a more expensive home, Hennigan noted, “doesn’t rehabilitate persons.” In some instances, good things happened, Hennigan noted. Grant money to help new home buyers was a positive. Some efforts were made when people went into interim housing to teach them about upkeep and homeownership, but not enough, he said. Hennigan saw “plenty of blockbusting to depress prices,” he said. He believes there was some collusion between the federal agency in charge of urban renewal and some real estate companies, because the government worked only with designated companies, creating a closed group. He was not in the group working with the administration, and his advocacy came from observing as an outsider. If a broader group of real estate companies had been permitted to work closely with the administration, he believed, there would have been “a better effect on persons and the end result.” Among Association activities in 1965, 21 Charlotte Realtors® served with the state or national association. DeLacy Wyman was named North Carolina Realtor® of the Year and elected to a vice presidency of the national group. Harry Brown remembered when Wyman and C.H. Touchberry ran for state offices. (Wyman was state president in 1963.) Charlotte had a big delegation, he recalled, and everyone had a good time. The Charlotte Realtors® Educational and Research Foundation was also established in 1965. T.R. Lawing Sr. remembered that Herman Yoos was the first president of the foundation.
DeLacy Wyman President, 1962
Also notable in 1965, the MLS recorded a 26 percent jump over the previous year as 1,222 units were sold through the service. The MLS had truly arrived. “I feel like it was very successful,” Lawing remembered. “It took a lot of staff riding herd because people would not fill out listings properly.” He admitted some
Chapter 5 | Canopy Through The Decades
nostalgia for the MLS books, which would be discontinued in the early 2000s. “I loved looking through them at the pictures,” he said.
municipalities. The Association also played a critical role in calming a blockbusting panic in the Clanton Park, Edgebrook and Rollingwood neighborhoods.
Lou Russo recalled that every week Realtors® would receive new home listing sheets that were graded by desirability. Agents would have to go through their binders and pull out solds, mark pendings and put in the new listings. It was a process that could take four hours, and Russo remembered hiring people to do it. Other longtime members recount childhood memories of updating the binders as an assigned chore. As a youngster, David Barnhardt used to help with his mother Catherine Browning with this task. Both mother and son would go on to serve as Association president, Browning in 1992 and Barnhardt in 2004.
Now with more than 500 members, the Association also formed both the Grievance Committee and Professional Standards Committee in 1967. Harry Brown recalled that arbitration at the Association was “very effective” and very active. Stuart Elliott remembered Professional Standards as being quiet and operating largely behind the scenes, but “board members had great respect for it, and thought it was a good thing.”
EVERY WEEK REALTORS® WOULD RECEIVE NEW HOME LISTING SHEETS THAT WERE GRADED BY DESIRABILITY. AGENTS WOULD HAVE TO GO THROUGH THEIR BINDERS AND PULL OUT SOLDS, MARK PENDINGS AND PUT IN THEIR NEW LISTINGS— A PROCESS THAT COULD TAKE FOUR HOURS.
On each listing, there would be a phone number of who had the key to the house. If an agent wanted to show the property, he or she had to go get the key and bring it back on the same day. “It was a nightmare,” recalled Jimmie Basinger. Most companies kept the keys on a rack in a closet. Russo remembered that when the Association finally went to the first lockboxes, the contraptions resembled the “locks on a Coca-Cola cooler.”
In 1966, the board reached the milestone of 500 members and celebrated its 45th anniversary. In June of that year, a committee recommended that the board build a new office to accommodate growth. In November, members voted in favor of the board purchasing land for a new building. On the state level, 36 Charlotte Realtors® held committee posts that year. In 1967, the annual report reflected the Association’s “successful bid for land in the urban renewal area for a board office home…” Other pivotal developments that year included: endorsement of a local sales tax referendum, creation of a bi-monthly orientation class, an ad campaign with the theme "It’s a good day for buying a house," support for school bonds and a bylaws amendment to require the Realtors®’ Institute for new members. The Association also went on record opposing “forced housing” and favoring the first zoning ordinance for areas of Mecklenburg County outside Charlotte and other
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Also in 1967, the MLS had its highest sales month to date — close to $4 million. Charlotte’s nickname was “The Action City,” and Realtors® W.F. Masten Jr. and Edward L. Vinson Sr. were named to Charlotte’s Best Dressed Men list. The Association sponsored a booth at the annual Home & Garden Show, and Willis Henderson’s jazz band played for the Association’s June picnic at the Commodore Club. When Daniel Hennigan became the Association’s first African American member in 1967, “we were ready,” said Jimmie Basinger. While integration was not contentious on the surface, Sandra Townsend recalled, it was hard for some members to accept. Townsend, who would serve as president in 1977, credits Association leadership with leading by example, setting a positive tone in a difficult era. When Hennigan had entered real estate in 1961, no local realty companies were integrated. He believed his organization, Hennigan Appraisal and Realty Inc., was the first minority-owned, FHA-authorized company in the city. He experienced resistance to gaining Association membership, taking him about six years to satisfy all requirements — including nearly two years just to receive an application from a current member. Then he had to obtain the signatures of five sponsors within the Association, which proved to be another major hurdle. Hennigan also went to UNC Chapel Hill for three summers to get the required 80 hours of education and passed the Graduate Realtor® Institute exam. In the 1960s, Hennigan could show real estate in all parts of Charlotte but wasn’t always welcome, he said. There are still fewer minority companies in the Association than Hennigan would like to see, and for many years, such companies remained outside the Association because of the tight entrance restrictions. Hennigan “early on committed to broad participation at the board,” he said in an interview conducted in the early 2000s. But later, he devoted his time to his business when he did not progress into Association leadership roles. He has seen other minorities hold leadership positions over the years, but believed more was possible. Another memory of 1967 was C.H. Touchberry’s first, and unsuccessful, campaign for state president, at which
Chapter 5 | Canopy Through The Decades
Will Crutcher President, 1967
John Byers Jr. and his wife did a “Frankie and Johnny” routine, and Jimmie Basinger did sound effects for a prohibition-era gangster skit. Byers also remembered being in a barbershop quartet with executive officer Phil Alexander, 1965 president Tommy Lawing Sr. and 1967 president Will Crutcher. For many years, the Association held an annual golf tournament for charity named in honor of Crutcher.
Basinger remembered that Henry Nading of Winston-Salem ran against Touchberry, and that his “Oh, Henry!” banners — a play on words with the candy bar of the same name — were all over the convention that year. Byers became president of the Association in 1968. Primarily a property manager with the C.D. Spangler Construction Co., Byers also served three terms as president of the Charlotte Property Managers Association and was president of the Charlotte Home Builders Association in 1960. Byers remembered opposition in the late ’60s to federal fair housing laws that came into being with Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968. But Byers maintained the opposition wasn’t because of race. Realtors® did not know what impact to expect from the law, he said, and were concerned about the expanding role of government. But once the law passed, they accepted it. Concerned that further opposition would be perceived not as disagreement with the government but as support for discrimination — Byers’ boss, C.D. Spangler Jr., asked him not to go to Washington, D.C. on the matter after his first trip. Byers believed the Spangler company did a lot to promote positive race relations, including the development of neighborhoods in AfricanAmerican communities. Fred Alexander, an African American who would serve on Charlotte City Council and in the state senate, was a Spangler employee who sold in the Double Oaks community. Byers recalled the Spangler company holding John Byers Jr. an event to support voting President, 1968 among African Americans, including a bus to take voters to the polls. He also remembered the sales staff from Double Oaks, Spangler staff members and ministers from the African
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American community meeting to answer questions and talk about promoting the neighborhood. When he and Dan Hennigan attended the 1968 state Realtors® convention, Byers did not recall the race of the attendees being an issue, and Hennigan remembered being treated cordially and attending functions without event. Sandra Townsend remembered serving on the city’s Community Relations Committee on fair housing. The city needed Realtor® support for fair housing, and she is proud that the committee passed the first fair housing ordinance in the state. That same year, 1968, Charlotte hosted the state convention at Pinehurst. Charlotte’s population had reached 263,000 and 35 Charlotte Realtors® served on state committees. C.H. Touchberry won the state presidency for 1969. Also in ’68, a nondiscrimination in housing clause was added to the MLS agreement contract, and construction began on the Association’s headquarters at the corner of Third and McDowell streets. Occupancy of the one-story building was slated for early 1969. Still, the association had some fun that year as well. A “Roaring ’20s Review” was staged for the Ole Timers group. The skit had previously been done at the state convention and featured Realtors® as “flappers.” “It was the funniest thing I’ve ever seen in my life,” Jimmie Basinger said.
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'70s SLOWDOWN Recession thumps housing, Mingle School begins The economic roar of the 1960s continued into the early ’70s, but soon turned to a whimper. The economy began to slow as gasoline prices rose dramatically, the federal government implemented wage and price controls, and the Watergate political scandal shook the foundations of the national government. By the summer of 1974, the housing industry was in a recession. Interest rates approached 20 percent, layoffs were occurring in manufacturing and President Richard Nixon resigned as part of the Watergate scandal. Some builders of new homes began to go under because they couldn’t carry the cost of their inventories as they competed for the few buyers available. C.C. “Cliff” Cameron, the CEO of First Union National Bank at the time, called the recession “probably the most critical real estate period since the Depression,” according to “The Builder: The Croslands and How They Shaped a Region” by Ross Yockey. Banks had a lot of repossessions and “work outs” in their inventory even as times got better, recalled Stuart Elliott, president in 1963.
The elimination of loans that could be assumed without credit qualification hurt first-time buyers, Russo said. His company worked with Brownlee Jewelers to help aspiring homeowners establish credit. The jewelry store would sell an item to the person on credit, then the prospective home buyer would make regular time payments to establish a credit record. “People wanted us and needed us to help them,” Russo said. One builder of new homes and apartments who rode out the recession was John Crosland Jr. As he saw the economy flagging, he purchased pools of mortgage money from lenders at attractive rates, offering loans as low as 7.5 percent when the prime rate was 12 percent or higher. “We were somewhat sheltered when the interest rates went above 20 percent,” Crosland said in “The Builder.” “For short-term construction financing we would go to banks and pay a fee to tie up money for a period of time,” he explained. “I only started construction after I negotiated the maximum rate on the interest. I had to know my money cost, just like I shop for bricks and lumber.”
“If you got a sale in the $60,000s, it was a huge sale,” noted Jimmie Basinger, president in 1969. “People got real creative” to deal with high interest rates. “Owner financing is what pulled us through. I remember thinking, if it (the mortgage rate) ever comes down to 12 percent, we’ll pull through. We persevered, we just ate less.” Member Lou Russo remembered the federal 2/35 program — a government subsidy for people in certain income brackets who had not owned homes before. His company also came up with an additional way to entice new home buyers. The city sold Russo’s company lots located between I-77 and LaSalle Street for one dollar apiece. To make home buying possible for firsttimers, Russo used the lot toward the downpayment, bringing the interest rate down to a manageable 6 percent. It was a popular concept. Buyers could choose their lot, home plan and the color of their roof. The homes had built-in appliances, central heat and other new amenities. Russo remembered building crews literally working around the clock, even renting floodlights to work at night. 34 | canopy100.com
1969 President Jimmie Basinger won Realtor® of the Year in 1974. He's pictured with his wife, Betty, and 1973 Realtor® of the Year Willis Henderson.
Chapter 6 | Canopy Through The Decades
His mentors were developer Lex Marsh Jr., 1938 Association president, and Bill Spurrier, who ran H&S Lumber Company. “They helped me understand what was going on in the marketplace,” said Crosland, whose company became the city’s largest apartment and single-family home builder in the mid-1970s. Meanwhile, at the Association, Roy Currie came aboard as an apprentice in the printing department in 1972. Little did he or others know that one day he would run the association as its executive officer for many years. The Association had just invested in printing presses and began publishing a bi-weekly MLS book with over 1,100 active listings that year. With presses in the basement of the Association’s office, producing the listing books in-house was more efficient, making them less costly and easier to update. 1971 President Dave Berryhill remembered the massive effort it took to actually print and distribute the volume of books. Some members doubted in-house printing would work, but it did, continuing until 1987. “It (just) had its problems like any start-up,” Jimmie Basinger noted. During 1971, the Association celebrated its 50th anniversary at the White House Inn, and State Senator Paul Fannin addressed the group. A notable memory of the event, Berryhill said, was a reporter from The Charlotte Observer who did not stand during the Pledge of Allegiance, which upset many Realtors®. Also at the time, urban renewal and segregation were “a matter of great discussion,” Berryhill recalled. Although he believed that it was “more of a publicity issue than a problem,” he noted that blockbusting and steering violations were committed by non-Realtors®. On a positive note, Berryhill remembered record sales through the MLS in 1971. A year later, the Association divided the MLS into “Areas” to further classify listings by geography. In 1973, sales exceeded the $100 million mark for the first time. 1973 was remarkable in three other ways: the Association board once again began David Berryhill President, 1971 looking for a larger office; the Association’s Education and Research Foundation awarded two full scholarships to UNC Charlotte students and the Will Crutcher Memorial Golf Tournament began. Charles “Buddy” Ritch, president in 1974, says a controversial MLS issue at the time was reporting a property as “sold” when it went under contract. The problem was that if a sale didn’t go through the seller had already announced what price would be accepted, making it virtually impossible to get a higher offer. 35 | canopy100.com
Also, these “pendings listed as sales” could make appraisals inaccurate if the pending sale did not close. Ritch tried unsuccessfully for three consecutive years to have contracts listed as pending. The Association finally adopted the concept several years after his term as president. Ritch did not shy away from controversy during his term. A contrarian with a thick skin, he opposed urban renewal and wanted to eliminate “for sale” signs and Sunday open houses. His dislike of the signs rested with a desire to qualify and meet with prospects rather than having them head straight for a particular house. As for urban renewal, he opposed the role of the government in private property matters, as did some others. As for Sunday open houses, he believed that real estate people needed a day off with their families. “I don’t know any business in the world where someone can call your office at 5 p.m. and say, ‘I want to sell my house,’ then have someone say, ‘I can be there in an hour,’” Ritch said. Ritch also opposed signing an anti-discrimination declaration, but not because he opposed the intent of the declaration. “I didn’t like signing a statement that I wouldn’t break a law I had no intention of breaking,” he noted. What he preferred was clear legal language delineating what one could and couldn’t do, with swift enforcement for infractions. The assumption he would discriminate if he didn’t sign a document ran afoul of his sense of fair play. He admitted that state association leaders heard him but didn’t back his position. That was OK, he said. He also championed the idea of agency long before it was popular.
Charles “Buddy” Ritch, president in 1974, says a controversial MLS issue at the time was reporting a property as “sold” when it went under contract.
Ritch also didn’t favor licensing agents. He thought it would create a “real estate mill,” turning out large numbers of agents who would start their own companies without the mentoring and apprenticeship of prelicensing days. One of Ritch’s contributions during his term was a significant — and not surprisingly, controversial — change to the MLS bylaws. In those days, he said, agents would rush to the Association when the new books came out to find out which listings had expired and then call the sellers for the business. A client of his, who had been hesitant about being listed to begin with, received 20 such calls and became angry. Ritch encouraged the end of publishing expiration dates. That suggestion made some members mad. One resigned over it because, as he told Ritch, finding out expiration dates was the major advantage to membership in the MLS.
Chapter 6 | Canopy Through The Decades
In the 1970s, past presidents of CRRA posed for a picture at the Association’s headquarters, then on Morehead Street between Kenilworth Avenue and McDowell Street. Top Row (from left): Charles Ritch, Bob Rhyne, Stuart Elliott, Harry Brown, Banks McClintock, DeLacy Wyman, Jimmie Basinger, H.C. “Smoky” Bissell, Chet Snow Sr., Howard Bumgardner, Dave Berryhill. Lower Row: Frank Thies, Jim Carson, C.H. Touchberry, J.P. Hackney, W.F. Masten Jr., Jackie Kiser, John Dwelle Sr., Sandra Townsend, Jimmy Trotter, C.W. Todd, Nat Spier, H.G. Jerman, Jack Turner.
Another change on Ritch’s watch was the move to a late fee on dues payments, a necessary but unpopular position he was not afraid to champion. He also championed the Realtors® Political Action Committee and gave RPAC its “first big push,” raising 90 percent of the goal for his year. Two years later, 1976 President Jackie Kiser became the first local RPAC chair, then state chair. As an appraiser, Ritch remembered the significance of the Association deciding to stop doing appraisals as of January 1, 1973, ending a practice that in the early days was a critical income source for the organization. The Association stopped accepting bids for appraisals — which had been farmed out among members — because of potential liability and because some members complained about the number of referrals they received. Appraisal fees were not high, Ritch said, with the highest being around $150, of which the Association received $50 for connecting the job with the appraiser. Since the Association issued the appraisal certificates, the perception of growing liability was probably on target, Ritch noted. Realtor® education during the 1970s was active in several ways. The Association’s Education Committee worked in conjunction with UNC Charlotte to develop real estate courses and members supported education efforts at the state association as well. Jimmie Basinger remembered working with the state’s Education Committee and putting on “traveling colleges” with Chet Snow Sr. and affiliate-member bankers. They traveled 36 | canopy100.com
around the state, and at one time, all over Louisiana. One year, Basinger’s topic was “Sex and the Real Estate Agent,” focusing on the entry of women into the real estate profession. “Quality education and dedicated members were a hallmark of the Charlotte association,” Basinger said. The Mingle School of Real Estate began in March 1972 with a review course for students preparing to take the state licensing exam. It was the first such course in the state and was held in Raleigh. Vane Mingle, the Association’s first executive director, and his wife Margrette, nicknamed “Mike,” created the course. Tuition was $50 and included materials. “We figured out if we had eight students we would break even — we had 13,” said Vane, who taught the first course with Bemis Lawrence. By May 1972, the Mingles added a similar course in Charlotte. Realtor® and developer Allen Tate called Vane in 1975 to suggest starting a pre-licensing school. The next year, the Mingles rented space from Queens College (now Queens University) for the North Carolina School of Real Estate, and the school continued there until the Association purchased it in 1993. For years, Vane doubted whether the school would last, but was committed to the importance of Realtor® education. “A lot of people say, ‘Well, I’ll sell real estate as something to fall back on.’ I don’t particularly like that attitude, although I can understand it,” he said. “After all, they (Realtors®) are dealing with people’s money, the biggest investment they have probably ever made, unless they buy a Mercedes.”
Chapter 6 | Canopy Through The Decades
The school became so successful that the Mingles brought in their daughter, Sharon, as educational coordinator and their son, Bob, a commercial Realtor®, as a teacher. Vane, a former commercial Realtor® himself, taught for many years. He was known for his anecdotes and memorizing the names of his students. “I love teaching,” he said. “I think I was a better teacher than a salesman.”
Sandra Townsend President, 1977
His wife took care of the school’s paperwork. “Mike did the dirty work, and I got the credit,” Vane said. She received her nickname when she went to work for Southern Pacific railroad in 1942. “All the men on the staff said, ‘We can’t have a woman here, so from now on, your name is Mike,” Vane remembered.
Among other activities in the 1970s, Realtors® sponsored a float in the city’s Carousel Parade at Thanksgiving, raised $7,000 for renovations to the Statue of Liberty and had an active Make America Better Committee, led by Chet Snow Sr. The committee supported the Light the Night campaign against neighborhood crime, showed filmstrips on safety to schools, presented new home buyers with American flags, promoted beautification projects and supported activities during Realtor® Week. Jimmie Basinger worked with affiliate members to make a movie about how lights deterred crime, encouraging people to keep their porch lights burning. Sandra Townsend recalls riding along with the Charlotte police at night as one of the program activities. “I have never been so petrified in my whole life,” she said, remembering that the police officer had to get out of the car to break up an altercation, leaving her and a fellow Realtor® alone in the squad car after midnight in a tough part of town. J.C. Cousar, an African American Realtor®, joined the association in 1973 as a broker. Integrated housing was just beginning, and blockbusting was a big issue. Basinger and John Hardin sponsored Cousar for membership, and the process went quicker and more smoothly than when the Association’s first African American member, Daniel Hennigan, had joined in 1967. “People had to get used to you,” Cousar said. Cousar’s company had an integrated workforce in the 1970s and sold homes in all neighborhoods. One of the biggest differences he sees between then and now is that “many companies are integrated (now), most neighborhoods are more stable and people can buy in any community without anything that would create instability,” he said. In the early ’70s, commercial and residential agents were members of the Association and often did both types of work. In 1975, members who specialized in commercial work 37 | canopy100.com
established a listing service called the Commercial Listing Exchange (CLE). That marked an effort to open up commercial real estate to more than just a few companies. “There were jealousies in the early days, closed shops — people found it difficult to get into,” Tommy Lawing Sr. remembered. Keeping knowledge of commercial properties to oneself was common, and more than 60 percent of Association members handled commercial real estate as opposed to residential. Gradually over the years that percentage would change. As Charlotte grew, the call to admit new players into what had been an “old boys” network also grew. Thus the CLE emerged. Ritch recalled that as the residential multiple listing service expanded and became a “viable force,” he and others realized it provided an advantage to Realtors® and to the public that was absent among commercial brokers. Commercial, he agreed, was “a closed book,” with a few major companies receiving information from bank trust departments and the Chamber of Commerce.
“I remember thinking, if it (the mortgage rate) ever comes One of the biggest down to 12 percent, challenges in commercial we’ll pull through. real estate at the time, Ritch said, was poor record We persevered, we keeping on properties and little published just ate less.” information. A Realtor® handling a property had -Jimmie Basinger to dig data out of deeds or court files or ask the previous agent for information. Sometimes, people even refused to verify listing information on former sales.
It took an entire year to launch the CLE, Ritch remembered, and the biggest fear among commercial brokers was that part-time agents would come in and “ruin” the business. Jim Varnadore, the founding chairman of the CLE and later Association president in 1979, proudly recalled the establishment and growth of the service. It continued as part of the Association until the commercial Realtors® split into a separate group in 1995. When H.C. “Smoky” Bissell presided over the Association in 1975, the big question was whether to automate the process of producing the listing books. Books were cumbersome and hard to update, and it “was a huge printing process,” Bissell remembered. By 1975 the MLS had moved from loose-leaf binders to a bound-book format that survived until 1999. Given the controversy, Bissell said his background in commercial real estate may have been an advantage because he could be more impartial regarding the change. Bob Driscoll headed a computer selection committee, and the group looked to Atlanta, which already had computerized.
Chapter 6 | Canopy Through The Decades
Varnadore credited Roy Currie, by then manager of the printing department, with leading the charge toward automation. Jackie Kiser was president in 1976 when the listing service bought its first computer, called a “REALTRON.” She remembered it as “monstrously big,” and it helped print the book. The ability of members to enter listings into a computer system and view them was many years away. J.C. Cousar was on the MLS board when it began to computerize. Having a computerized system helped the MLS to grow, he said, which helped the whole region grow. Charles Ritch noted that at the time many members didn’t want to spend the money on a computer. They weren’t sure how to operate one, and at first, just accessed the MLS via terminals in the Association office. “I thought it was a great advancement and I knew it (computerization) would keep coming,” Ritch said. Of course, he was right. H.C. "Smoky" Bissell President, 1975
In the early 1970s, Association leaders and their wives attended a national Realtor® meeting in Las Vegas. Barbara Alexander (from left), Dave Berryhill, Barbara Berryhill, Frankie Ritch, Charles Ritch and Phil Alexander.
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Vane and “Mike” Mingle were leaders in Realtor® education.
Chapter 7 | Canopy Through The Decades
Charlotte grows in the late 1970s, Association tops 1,000 members In the mid-to-late 1970s, the Association continued to expand services and to benefit from what launched the trade group in 1921 — local growth. The Board of Directors voted in 1976 to buy the property at 1356 East Morehead Street for its offices. 1976 President Jackie Kiser, the first woman to lead the Association, spearheaded the committee that found the site and prepared the contract. Finalizing the deal and moving to the new site fell to the second woman to serve as president, Sandra Townsend, to complete the next year, 1977.
Jackie Kiser President, 1976
The Association sought the new location after only seven years at its McDowell Street site because it needed more space for printing the MLS book and for education, Kiser recalled.
Another change the Association considered in 1976 was printing and circulating its own newspaper insert. “A lot of what we talked about back then was ahead of its time,” said Kiser, noting that real estate companies today are frequently featured in separate newspaper sections focused on real estate. The recession still had lingering effects in 1976, Kiser said. Association leadership tried to keep people’s spirits up, but many members were lost to the tough economic times. “I knew we could still make a living if we continued to work and work smart,” Kiser remembered, “and (that real estate was) where a woman can make as much as a man if she works as smart as a man.” 39 | canopy100.com
Also in 1976, the name of the MLS changed twice through amending its articles of incorporation. Leaving behind the Charlotte Multiple Listing Bureau name the MLS had had since 1950, the MLS became known as the Charlotte Realtors® Multiple Listing Service as of Aug. 16, 1976. A little over a month later, the name shifted once again on Sept. 28 to the Multiple Listing Service of the Charlotte Board of Realtors®.
The Association’s Board of Directors voted in 1976 to buy the property at 1356 East Morehead Street for its offices.
The following year, 1977, membership in the Association reached 1,010. Roy Currie, an employee in the printing shop, became manager of the department. Townsend said many on the board endorsed Currie’s work and said his increasing involvement in operations was “a blessing.” The move into management soon would showcase Currie’s skills and qualifications even more, positioning him for greater responsibility in years to come.
For Townsend, one of the more memorable occurrences in 1977 was what she calls her “battle with The Charlotte Observer.” Realtors® felt they were being treated unfairly by the Observer’s advertising policy, which provided limited classified abbreviations and was perceived to have high rates. Townsend “led a revolt,” she said. Supported by Home Magazine out of Greenville and in cooperation locally with The Leader and Mecklenburg Times newspapers, Realtors® considered dropping out of the Observer completely. Rolfe Neill, a high-ranking executive at the Observer and later the publisher, came to a meeting at the Association to hear the Realtor® side of the story. And the Association’s impact was
Chapter 7 | Canopy Through The Decades
felt. The Observer added more abbreviations, held down ad costs, became easier to work with and became more solicitous of Realtor® opinions.
and builders at the helm and many others in the housing industry on board. A groundbreaking organization, REBIC is believed to be the nation’s first political coalition representing broad-based, local housing interests.
The next big thing to impact the Association was a significant corporate move into the Charlotte market. IBM came to the city in 1978. The presence of such a large national company and the influx of relocating employees boosted the price of property in Charlotte, many said. Steve Strawn, 1978 president, remembered the move bringing lots of new business. The Association continued to grow and still held monthly meetings, attended by approximately 400. Strawn also recalled that in 1978 Roy Currie moved from printing department manager to manager of the MLS. Strawn had high praise for both Currie and Executive Officer Phil Alexander, whom he said “made the job of president easier.” The Association endorsed a community bond issue in ’78 to expand the airport and wrestled with the status of independent contractors. The Internal Revenue Service was considering eliminating independent contractor status for Realtors®, which the Association opposed. Antitrust and civil rights issues also were at the forefront. The national association made changes to bylaws, including the criteria for board membership and rules on how to operate the MLS. Strawn also remembered a strong emphasis on political affairs led by John Crosland Jr., as well as promotion of RPAC. “Personally, it was one of my best years ever,” Strawn said, “because it is such an honor to hold that position (of president).” As chair of the Association’s legislative committee, Crosland began to push for a political organization to represent the local housing industry. He enlisted the home builders, but winning over the Realtors® was a bigger challenge. “They cared about license law, commissions and the John Crosland Jr. Multiple Listing Service,” he Co-founder, REBIC said. “I felt like they needed to take a broad view of the entire market … that we’re all in this together and take one position, not take two positions or more.” Crosland obtained the backing of developer/Realtor® Allen Tate Jr., and soon after, they forged a “Joint Committee” of Realtors® and builders to discuss common concerns. The committee, founded in the mid-70s, became the forerunner of the Real Estate and Building Industry Coalition (REBIC), established in 1982 with the Realtors® 40 | canopy100.com
Allen Tate Jr. Co-founder, REBIC
that could get people’s attention, and he had the tenacity to get the job done.” Tate was also an effective leader on behalf of the organization and the Charlotte community. He chaired REBIC in its second five years, and he and Crosland also founded in the ’70s a political action committee for the real estate industry, the Shelter Providers Political Action Committee Enterprise, best known as “SPPACE.”
Crosland served as chair of the Joint Committee/REBIC its first five years. “He was the organizer — the workhorse,” said developer Doug Boone, an early REBIC leader. “He was the one
Founded in the mid-1970s, the Joint Committee of Realtors® and builders became the forerunner of the Real Estate and Building Industry Coalition.
Tate also served for many years on the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Planning Commission, including as its chair from 1970 through 1979. He held a variety of Charlotte Chamber leadership positions over five decades, including chairperson in 1999. “Allen was very dynamic, very engaged in the community and in public affairs,” recalled Mark Cramer, who became executive director of REBIC in the 1990s. “He understood clearly that the overall health of the community from an economic standpoint was vitally important to business as a whole.” In 1979, the Association pushed the Charlotte City Council to promote fair housing, which led to the CharlotteMecklenburg Fair Housing Ordinance.
Chapter 7 | Canopy Through The Decades
In 1978, past presidents posed for a picture in front of the Association office at 1356 East Morehead St. Front row (from left): Steve Strawn, Jim Carson, Jimmie Basinger, J.M. Trotter, Nat Spier, H.B. Jerman. Middle Row: Lex Marsh Jr., Frank Thies, John Byers Jr., C.A. Todd. Back Row: Stuart Elliott, T.R. Lawing Sr., Howard Bumgardner, Harry Brown, Charles “Buddy” Ritch, Chet Snow Sr., Bob Rhyne, John Dwelle, Banks McClintock, DeLacy Wyman.
The Association also protested the practice of down-zoning property. Generally with down-zoning, someone other than the property owner would file a request for more restrictive zoning. This would reduce the value of a property if the owner had purchased it with the intent to use it in a way now impaired by the new zoning. The practice was “unfair to restrict use without the owner’s consent,” said Jim Varnadore, 1979 president. Both mitigating down-zoning and establishing the local fairhousing ordinance are accomplishments Varnadore recalled proudly. Thanks to such efforts, the “profile of the Realtor® as the champion of property rights” emerged at this time, he said. The Association celebrated Private Property Week, a recognition once known as Realtor® Week. Varnadore was especially gratified that in working for fair housing and against down-zoning that Realtors® were working on behalf of people outside its membership, as well as protecting the interests of the industry.
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“Owning property is one of most people’s most valued possessions,” said Varnadore, who believed that the majority of Association members were in favor of the fair housing statute. “It was recognizing that all people had a right to own property.” Some non-Realtor® brokers at the time were not practicing ethically, he added, and the Association wanted to differentiate its members in the eyes of the public — something it still strives for today.
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Canopy Through the Decades
hitting stride, 1980-1995 Chapter 8 | Realtors® Only Chapter 9 | Busy Time Chapter 10 | Expansion Mode
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Chapter 8 | Canopy Through The Decades
MLS Turns 30, Association Renovates Homes CRRA kicked off 1980 with several big developments. It became an all-Realtor® organization, with members pledged to uphold the high standards that go along with that status. People who were not Realtors® but had real estate licenses were no longer eligible for membership, which is true today. “It took some salesmanship” to convince members of the importance of the move and its benefits, recalled 1979 President Jim Varnadore.
ended, another one began the following year and continued for decades. In 1981, the Association asked Realtors® who came to the holiday luncheon to bring a toy to donate to charity. Also in 1981, the Make America Better Committee won an honorable mention from the national association for community service, and the Community Revitalization Committee (CRC) formed to buy and preserve key historic properties. The revitalization committee’s efforts in refurbishing dilapidated homes helped lay the foundation for Habitat for Humanity’s later success, Varnadore recalled. While there was a waiting list for low-cost homes, there was also a long list of uninhabitable homes standing vacant. The CRC’s efforts drew attention to the idea of renovating these structures. Over time, the committee would rehabilitate four houses in or near the Villa Heights neighborhood — 1830 North Allen Street, 1009 Grace Street, 1924 North Harrill Street and 1901 North Allen Street. That same year, 1981, the Make America Better Committee raised almost $9,000 from its auction and attic sale to benefit the American Cancer Society, and was recognized by the North Carolina division of the American Cancer Society. Among other projects, the Association joined with the Charlotte police to establish a Vandalism Prevention Program. Realtors® volunteered to show a film and hand out materials to over 2,000 fifth graders in Charlotte public schools. Other community projects at that time included Realtors® visiting nursing homes twice a month to see residents and distribute small toiletry items, and the third annual Blood Give-In, a major blood donation drive sponsored by the Association.
Among Association leaders in the early 1980s (from left, clockwise) were Buddie Guthrie, Chet Snow Jr., Jim Sweet, David Reule and Howard Bumgardner.
“As time wore on, it was accepted.”
In May 1981, the Housing Cost Task Force, created after Association participation in a 1980 Urban Symposium, finished its research. The task force, made up of members from financial, legal, construction and government sectors, suggested ways to streamline the permit-approval process to
The same year, the Association celebrated the 30th anniversary of the MLS and marked the last picnic at the Red Fez Club, a decades-old tradition that had become too expensive as the membership grew. But as that tradition 44 | canopy100.com
Chapter 8 | Canopy Through The Decades
reduce housing costs without compromising safety.
a good year,” said 1983 President Chet Snow Jr. Although he remembers ’83 as a relatively noncontroversial year, he appreciated the chance to serve the membership. “It was a great opportunity and I enjoyed doing it,” he said. “I tried to have a lot of interaction with the members and the staff.”
The Albemarle Road Neighborhood Plan, which also arose from the symposium, was the first 20-year plan of its kind in the local market. Also during 1981, Dave Berryhill, a former Association president, and Ralph McMillan, a real estate attorney, served on Charlotte City Council.
In 1984, the Make America Better Committee won first place again, this time in NAR’s Health and Safety category. During Private Property Week, the Association held a casino night, a tennis tournament, a prayer breakfast and hosted a display on homeownership at SouthPark Mall and the East Mecklenburg Fair. The Association also held an essay contest and encouraged open houses at homes for sale. The spring of 1984 featured a “Past Presidents’ Day” at the old Charlotte Civic Center. In 1985, the MLS reflected home sales of half a billion dollars that year, and the board began to consider computerizing the MLS. Business was picking up after the recession of the early ’80s, a slowdown that affected Charlotte less than many other area of the country, mainly because of local job growth.
Yet, while Realtors® The Association celebrated its 60th year in were boosting the community with their 1981, issuing this report. good works, all was not rosy with the Association. 1981 President David Reule recalled that when he took over, the MLS was broke, and the board had to raise dues for the first time in years.
Dan Cottingham was president at the time (1984), accepting the job when his company, Cottingham-Chalk & Associates, was only six months old. During his term, the MLS required a lot of attention, Not only was cost leading Association leaders to seriously consider outsourcing the printing of MLS books, they knew they needed to increase computerization of the system. “We had several firms with computerized MLS data, but it was not the total picture,” recalled Margaret “Micki” Fisher, who chaired the MLS committee that year. Moffat Sherard “They had a network and President, 1982 could share information back and forth. We knew we needed to do something about the entire MLS.”
The increase was so controversial that The Charlotte Observer ran a cartoon about the action. The country was in another recession and interest rates were around 20 percent. Some members thought Reule raised the dues because his own practice was largely commercial. But leaving the MLS in sound operating condition was one of the year’s achievements of which Reule was most proud. Also during 1981, the Commercial Listing Exchange emphasized a specialized education program for its members; the Builder/ Realtor® Services Committee promoted the Festival of Homes and sponsored panel discussions between builders and Realtors®; and the Education Committee focused on bringing a Graduate Realtor® Institute program to UNC Charlotte. Moffatt Sherard recalled his 1982 term as president as uneventful. “The MLS grew a lot,” he remembered, “but there were no serious controversies. It was a fairly smooth sail.” The biggest improvement was in MLS service, for which Sherard credits Roy Currie, the staffer who headed the MLS. “The staff did a great job,” Sherard said. “They were a big help to me.”
But when Fisher proposed to Roy Currie, then administrative vice president of the Association, that all Realtors® needed to be on a computer network to share MLS data, the idea didn’t seem feasible. “He said, ‘first of all, (Executive Officer) Phil Alexander doesn’t like computers, and you would have to sell him,’” Fisher remembered. “‘Second, many members don’t want to buy a computer and you’ll have to raise (MLS) dues.’ I said to him, ‘OK, but you start looking.’”
Also during Sherard’s 1982 term, the “Get Alarmed” campaign kicked off an effort by Realtors® to donate smoke detectors to save lives. The Association also hosted a cancer society auction, and ads run by the Association claimed, “Now Is The Time to Buy a Home.” Sherard also remembered a “big push” on RPAC life memberships — which he personally supported — and said the Association did a good job in those years of raising RPAC funds.
Not long after that, Fisher received a call from Currie. “He was in Chicago at some kind of meeting, and he said, ‘I think I’ve found it.’” It was a “dumb terminal” system that would allow the Association to rent computers to MLS users for a modest monthly fee. The terminals would be workstations with no computing power of their own.
The following year, the Make America Better Committee won first place in the NAR competition for community projects. A “jail-a-thon” was held to raise funds to fight cancer. “We had 45 | canopy100.com
Chapter 8 | Canopy Through The Decades
Chet Snow Jr. President, 1983
The board chose to pursue the idea, but had to sell the membership on it. They knew use of the terminals would have to be mandatory because of the cost associated with them. “I said, ‘Let’s educate them,’” Fisher remembered. “How many people can we get in our conference room? Let’s do companies A through C, then D through F, and so forth, show them the dumb terminals and how they worked — let them touch it and feel it, then have a vote.”
Fisher’s phone rang repeatedly with members complaining about the proposed system. “Well, you have a vote, I told them,” she recalled. “I said, ‘Just promise me you’ll come and listen and try this little terminal. If it’s not worth $10 a month to you, vote no.’” The vote was scheduled for late 1984. Not until ballots were actually cast did Association leaders know that the members had been won over. They voted in the system by a two to one margin. The Association performed a one-month trial of the system, then rolled it out in early 1985. Alyce Walker, who would become president in 1987, recalled that the terminals used shiny thermal paper. She also remembered the “great hue and cry” over the continued move to computers. “It was necessary, it was time,” she said. “They worked pretty well.” The MLS spent $500,000 on the new computer system, which served more than 2,000 members at the time. Meanwhile, the Community Revitalization Committee was still active in 1984, “fixing up houses in blighted areas and giving them to the city to rent to poor families,” Cottingham said, calling the work “very rewarding.”
Association leaders told 1984 President Dan Cottingham he was the youngest to hold the position. He was 32, and as of 2021, there has been no younger president. 46 | canopy100.com
Bill Scurry remembered that the committee still had two houses left to rehabilitate and sell in 1985, the year he became chair. “It was stuff like this that helped give the Association the direction it has today ... it was a very worthwhile endeavor,” he said. “I would have hated to think that we would never have given it a shot, even though it didn’t work longterm, it was a great learning experience and helped those buyers.”
The revitalization committee initially was part of the Association’s Charitable Foundation, which was officially incorporated in November 1985. But increasing difficulty getting sponsors to underwrite the program eventually led to the committee’s discontinuation, Scurry said. Other organizations in Charlotte had also begun doing such work. Most notable was Habitat for Humanity, which began a Charlotte chapter in 1983. Realtor® and developer John Crosland Jr. was one of the chapter’s founders and chaired its board for the first seven years. During Private Property Week in 1984, the Association brought in a panel of experts on home repairs and set up a show in the gym of one of the high schools. The public was invited to learn how to fix up and improve their homes.
Bill Scurry, Chair Community Revitalization Committee, 1985
A novel program was “Take a Little Longer.” Its goal was to discourage cut-through traffic in neighborhoods. The Association worked with neighborhoods and developers to identify and time the drives on alternative routes. When the alternates were proven to save more time than routes through neighborhoods, the longer routes were promoted through signs. Radio and TV ads also raised awareness of the danger caused by cut-through traffic and the extra stops caused by neighborhood routes. Ultimately, there was “big community buy-in,” Cottingham recalled, and the Association’s efforts helped “bridge the gap” between developers and neighborhood associations. Cottingham also served on a planning task force, which looked at city planning for the next 20 years. Bank executive Cliff Cameron and former mayor Harvey Gantt chaired the task force. “It is remarkable where we are today,” said Cottingham on the accuracy of the plan’s foresight. “We tried to push development to Lake Norman, the university area and the airport.” Without the plan, development would have intensified down Providence Road, pushing the city “way past Waxhaw,” he said. During the same time, Royal Insurance (now RSA Insurance Group) was moving into Charlotte, and its consultants met with representatives of the Association to plan for a smooth transition. Muriel Helms served as 1985 president and would go on to become the first woman to chair the Charlotte Chamber in 1995. When she led the Association, the “dumb terminals” were rolled out early that year, despite Roy Currie having departed to take an executive position with a Realtor® association in Charleston, S.C. The Association again won an NAR award for the Make America Better Committee, sponsored a float in
Chapter 8 | Canopy Through The Decades
the city’s Carousel Parade at Thanksgiving and held a jail-a-thon. Other community service activities included a casino night and an attic sale. Private Property Week included TV and radio interviews, and the Association sponsored futurist and noted author John Naisbitt of “Megatrends” fame as the speaker at the Association’s first strategic planning retreat. Realtor® Reflections magazine also had its humble start in 1985, debuting as a four-page, photocopied newsletter. It would shift to a format closer to that of a magazine in 1991 and become a full-fledged, slick magazine in early 1996. It became an award-winning, full-color monthly publication lauded by associations throughout the country until, to save costs during the Great Recession, it moved to a digital-only, blog-like format in 2010.
Muriel Helms President, 1985
Realtor® Reflections began as a photocopied newsletter in 1985.
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Chapter 9 | Canopy Through The Decades
Association hires familiar face as CEO, Outsources MLS books Big changes came to the Association in the late 1980s — Roy Currie returned to the fold, this time as chief executive officer; the printing of MLS books was outsourced once again, and the presidency became a position elected by the membership. The Association also raised substantial sums for Habitat for Humanity and created the Vane Mingle Award and Realtor® Store.
“We negotiated the whole time we were on the retreat,” she continued. “I knew he had been our administrative vice president and had worked his way up from the print room. I knew he could take over immediately. That’s why I said we’re going for Roy. The directors gave me full authority to negotiate a salary up to a certain figure. We hadn’t gone after him before because we thought it was too soon after he’d left.”
All of this occurred in only four years, 1986-1989, and set the stage for the Association’s continued growth in the 1990s.
Not long after the retreat, Fisher traveled to Charleston to meet with Currie, who was executive vice president (the head staff position) of the Charleston Trident Board of Realtors®. Fisher was delighted he was interested. “We discussed the situation at length, negotiated the salary and when he would come — this was about mid-1986,” she said, noting what a whirlwind her presidency had been.
When Margaret “Micki” Fisher took over as president in 1986, there was no staff leader. Longtime Executive Officer Phil Alexander had retired in late 1985. “A search committee was formed, which I was a part of, and I went to the board every day after I became president to see how things were and to get things up and going,” Fisher said. “I’d spend a couple of hours and then come back late in the afternoon.” The board named a replacement about three months into 1986, Vince Caudle, but he only lasted about six weeks, departing the day before an out-of-town strategic planning retreat. “On the bus going up to Sugar Mountain, I remember telling our directors — we’re going to go after Roy Currie,” Fisher noted.
In addition to there being no executive officer for about half a year, the Association re-wrote its bylaws. “It was also the year Coldwell Banker was negotiating with me to buy my company — it was hectic,” Fisher said. One of the first challenges Currie faced was outsourcing the printing of the MLS in 1987. The board decided to eliminate the in-house print shop and use an outside vendor for cost reasons. Currie — who had begun in the print shop as a college student in 1973 and over 12 years risen to become manager — had the difficult task of dismantling his old team. Fortunately, the employees were able to set up their own print shop as a business outside the Association. Also in 1987, President Alyce Walker had the distinction of being the first Association president to be elected by the general membership. Prior to that, the Association’s board of directors appointed the president. Another “first” that year was the establishment of the Vane Mingle Award, which honors the Association’s first executive officer and co-founder of the Mingle School of Real Estate. The award goes annually to the Association’s top rookie agent.
Micki Fisher (left) took over as Association president in 1986, following in the steps of 1985 President Muriel Helms.
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A personal highlight for Walker was the 1987 national convention in Hawaii. She attended the convention with her husband, then went on an NAR-sponsored three-week tour of China. Although she got pneumonia in China, she and her
Chapter 9 | Canopy Through The Decades
husband became such good “On the bus friends with their tour guide that they invited the young woman to going up to study in the U.S. and live Sugar Mountain, come with them, which she did for two years. I remember Also in 1987, the Charitable telling our Foundation raised $22,000 at a Habitat for Humanity directors — at the home of Patty we’re going to reception O’Herron Norman. Immediate Past President Micki Fisher go after Roy chaired the event, attended Currie,” said by former President Jimmy and his wife, Rosalynn, 1986 President Carter in town for a Habitat building blitz. Allen St. Clair recalled that Micki Fisher.
the Association raised a total of $50,000 that year to earn the status of a Habitat “Master Builder.”
The next year, 1988, Ward Mullis was president. He remembered how computer issues continued to be high profile. Groundwork was being laid to purchase the BORIS system, and he said that when the system was installed the next year, there were bugs and problems. During his term, the Association brought home two major NAR awards, winning first and second in the scrapbook competition. The Advertising and Public Relations Committee took first for its work, and the Community Service Committee placed second for its efforts championing free speech and safety. NCAR also awarded the Advertising and PR Committee its scrapbook award for the fourth straight year. Issues at the time included emphasizing fair housing and educating Realtors® about compliance. Also in 1988, the Association participated in many events: another Habitat for Humanity fundraiser, this time at the home of Cameron “Cammie” Harris ($17,000 raised); a tennis and golf tournament; the Southern Ideal Home Show; and the “Clean Sweep” project to remove litter. Mullis himself participated in a jail-a-thon to raise money for the American Cancer Society.
Alyce Walker President, 1987
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Other events included a Mardi Gras luncheon, an American Home Week celebration, a display uptown at NCNB (now Bank of America) Plaza, a Prayer and Awards Banquet and “Free Speech Alley,” a variation on
today’s Candidate Oktoberfest. A new Property Management Committee also began in 1988, replacing the Property Management Bureau that had disbanded in the mid-1980s. The next year, 1989, the membership voted in mid-December to change the name of the Association from the Charlotte Board of Realtors® to the Charlotte Association of Realtors®. The name was legally changed in February 1990, and the name change didn’t set well with some members. “I got a lot of grief over that,” said 1989 President Denver Board. Some people didn’t like the idea of change, while others didn’t like the new name’s abbreviation, “CAR.” The change was appropriate, Board noted, because “a board is a licensing organization — which we’re not. An association is a membership organization.” Board, incidentally, was the first — and so far, only — write-in candidate for president to win an election. He campaigned as “a working person — I called myself a ‘street person,’” he said. During Board’s term, he had the unfortunate duty of dealing with Hurricane Hugo, which pounded the region in late September 1989. The headquarters, then at 1356 East Morehead Street, sustained damage to its roof, which led to water problems. Board said Rick Concepcion, staff manager for the MLS, was the first on the scene and covered the computers to keep them safe. Allen St. Clair recalled that he and Roy Currie bailed water and removed tree limbs from the Association roof. The water damage led to building renovations in 1990. Other major developments occurred in 1989. Discussions led to the creation of The Realtor® Store, and Board spent time at Charlotte City Council meetings successfully fighting transfer taxes; Alyce Walker had successfully fought them at state and local levels during her term. “Politically,” she wrote in November 1987, “we have begun the coming-of-age process.” Also during Board’s term, the Union County Association of Realtors® officially merged its MLS with the Association’s MLS on Jan. 8, 1989. Board fondly remembered when 1938 President Lex Marsh Jr. approached him at the 1989 holiday luncheon and complimented his leadership. “Lex Marsh was respected and revered by everyone,” Board said. “He said, ‘Young man, I just want to tell you, I think you’ve done a hell of a job.’” During American Home Week in 1989, the Association held its spring meeting at The Speedway Club, which had opened in the mid-to-late 1980s. The Association repeated many of its successful promotions during that week, with the addition of a housing conference, public seminars about home buying, a prize to the first baby born during the week, an award to the oldest business in Charlotte and a Homebuyers/Home Sellers Expo at Outlet Marketplace, later Midtown Square, and today the site of The Metropolitan.
Chapter 9 | Canopy Through The Decades
Other events in 1989 included a fashion show sponsored by the Women’s Council of Realtors® and “Power Breakfasts” on the first Thursday of the month. “Realtorman” was a fictional superhero with his own column in Realtor® Reflections, and the Association supported “Safety Through Songs” in local schools and promoted Daffodil Day and blood Denver Board donations. More than 300 President, 1989 Realtors® either sponsored or walked for the March of Dimes, and the Programs Committee added a “Pig Pickin” to the social event calendar. Board recalled a Realtor®-only jail-a-thon at a local designer house to raise money for charitable activities. “I kept breaking even,” he said. “One person would pay $100 to get me out, and another would pay $100 to keep me in.” Board ran into another funny situation at the NAR national convention. His nametag read “Denver Board, President” without mentioning his Charlotte affiliation. “I was in an elevator,” he said, “and a man kept looking at my nametag. Finally he said, ‘I’m a friend of the president of the Denver board and you’re not the president of the Denver board.’” Board had to show the man a business card to convince him of his given name. The Colorado delegation had fun with the confusion. “They used to take me up to their hospitality suite and introduce me as ‘the REAL Denver Board.’”
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Ward Mullis participated in a jail-a-thon to raise money for the American Cancer Society during his '88 presidential year.
Chapter 10 | Expansion Mode
New headquarters, Mingle School Spur early ’90s growth Expansion characterized the Association as it began the last decade of the 20th century. The organization gained space and became a landlord when it moved in 1993 to 1201 Greenwood Cliff in Midtown, not far from its previous location on Morehead Street. The Association also added an in-house educational component in buying the Mingle School of Real Estate and broadened the MLS by continuing to expand into surrounding counties. In early 1990, the Association changed its name. More than 400 attended a “Name Change Kick-Off” when the Association went from being the Charlotte Board of Realtors® to the Charlotte Association of Realtors®. The Association had decided to drop “Board” from its name because the group was not a licensing organization but a membership-based group. Allen St. Clair was president in 1990, and that year proved to be busy for the newly renamed Association and its approximately 2,600 members. The Realtor® Store opened as the Realtor® Service Center, a Regional Realtor® Rally provided all-day education options and the Association’s location on Morehead Street was renovated and expanded downstairs. Another highlight was signing on to the “Yes, You Can!” ad campaign slated for 1991, for which the Association committed $25,000. The program was copied from a New Jersey campaign distributed through NAR. The ads promoted homeownership, emphasizing 60 homes for sale under $120,000. Allen St. Clair (left) and Tommy Lawing Jr. each served as president of the Association in the early 1990s.
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Also in 1990, the Association pledged $50,000 to endow
a chair of real estate studies at UNC Charlotte, part of developing a masters’ degree in real estate at the school. The amount would be paid over three years. John Crosland Jr. had already given $125,000 to launch the campaign, and when the chair became fully funded, it was named after his father, John Crosland Sr., the founder of his family’s home-building business. Meanwhile, the Charitable Foundation raised more than $20,000 through a local designer house and “Wheel of Fortune” event. The funds helped sponsor “Housing Help,” a clearinghouse to connect people with housing resources. Staff member Frank Bowers challenged members to match him dollar for pound as he began a weight-loss program, hoping to raise pledges for the foundation. Over 115 pounds were lost, raising over $3,000. On the political front, NAR recognized the Association for having the highest U.S. percentage (26 percent) of politically active Realtors® among large boards. The award considered RPAC contributions, campaign volunteers, calls to action and other political support. Realtor® involvement in One Special Christmas began in 1990, raising about $40,000 that year to benefit needy children. St. Clair encouraged getting involved in One Special Christmas and recounted how it occurred. The Central Piedmont Community College Woodworkers’ group approached the Association before Christmas 1989 asking to use the boardroom to wrap presents for its holiday charitable event, St. Clair said. Association bylaws required that a board member be present when nonmembers used the facility, so St. Clair and fellow member Phyllis Furr — who later married — stayed to help with the project. They got hooked and successfully lobbied the Association to take on One Special Christmas as a charitable project. Other ideas in 1990 that didn’t take off were a credit union and an advertising tabloid that was supposed to replace the
Chapter 10 | Canopy Through The Decades
The headquarters move from Morehead Street to Greenwood Cliff faced “tremendous opposition.”
Jody Harpootlian President, 1991
real estate classifieds of The Charlotte Observer. A similar tabloid had worked in Asheville. One unusual fact about 1990 and 1991 was that the Association had back-to-back presidents from the same company. Both St. Clair and Jody Harpootlian worked for First Charlotte Properties. Harpootlian cites the sale of the Morehead Street building and the purchase of the Greenwood Cliff site as the highlight of her 1991 presidency. The move to the new building wouldn’t occur for another two years, but it faced “tremendous opposition,” she said. Many board members believed the Morehead Street building provided adequate space and saw the new building as a risk since the Association at that time could fill only one floor.
Carolinas Medical Center (now Atrium) wanted the Association’s Morehead Street location and proposed a swap. The hospital would exchange the building at 1201 Greenwood Cliff for the Realtors®’ Morehead Street building, an exchange that gave the Association a more valuable building. According to 1992 President Catherine Browning, the move was controversial, even though it was a good deal. The Greenwood Cliff building was so much larger, and the many didn’t foresee the growth and regional scope of services the Association eventually would provide. “Many past presidents were not in favor,” said Browning, who said that the immediate focus was on renting unused space. Discussions also were taking place in 1991 and 1992 about purchasing the Mingle School. Visiting larger boards and especially attending an NAR convention in Las Vegas had convinced Hartpootlian that acquiring a real estate school was the way to go. Both she and Chief Executive Officer Roy Currie believed the school would generate non-dues revenue, especially with the move toward mandatory continuingeducation classes. Browning said setting in motion the purchase of Mingle School was the highlight of her presidency. Also during Browning’s term, Tommy Lawing Jr. assembled leaders from other county Realtor® associations for lunches, continuing a regional dialogue that eventually would lead to
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the inclusion of even more counties in the Association’s MLS. Regionalization was a big issue, Lawing said. Large real estate firms were beginning to open offices outside Mecklenburg County, and using solely the Association’s MLS would be more efficient. There also was a push to share professional standards training with other counties and with South Carolina. The year before Browning was president, Lawing recalled, Hartpootlian had asked him to chair a task force — of one — to build relationships with the other counties’ executive officers, a group that would eventually become the Region Seven Council, which met regularly through the early 1990s. “If a small board wanted to join us, we welcomed them,” Lawing said. Also in 1991, the MLS became a for-profit corporation and its nonprofit status was abandoned. On Jan. 25, 1991, the name became the Old Multiple Listing Service, a change based on a membership vote in August 1990. Then on Feb. 5, 1991, the MLS officially became a for-profit corporation owned wholly by the Association. Thanks to the Region Seven Council and later the luncheons, when counties were ready to come into the MLS, they knew the players at the Charlotte Association of Realtors®. In 1991, the Lincoln County Board of Realtors® and the Association entered into a merger agreement on Feb. 27 for MLS services. In 1992, Debra McIver, a longtime Association staffer, began administration of the Grievance and Professional Standards committees, which consist of members who enforce the Realtor® Code of Ethics. She also nurtured a free mediation service by members that had begun the year before and was a pioneering activity among Realtor® associations. NAR Catherine Browning wouldn’t require mediation President, 1992 to settle disputes among Realtors® until the early 2000s. “We have always been way ahead of the game,” McIver said of the Association and these activities. “I go to conferences and people flock to ask what we’re doing now.” Fresh from his work with the MLS and surrounding counties, Lawing became Association president in 1993. He followed in the footsteps of his father, who had served as president in 1965. Milestones under the younger Lawing were moving to Greenwood Cliff, expanding the MLS, beginning the spin-off of the Commercial Listing Exchange and the purchase of Mingle School. The Association purchased Mingle in 1993 upon the retirement of founders Vane and his wife, Margrette “Mike,” Mingle.
Chapter 10 | Canopy Through The Decades
The MLS also underwent several major changes in 1993 and 1994. In addition to considering an agreement with York County, the MLS officially added Lincoln County and changed the name of the MLS — which became the Piedmont Multiple Listing Service (PMLS) on May 4, 1994. Also in 1993, the Association celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Will Crutcher Golf Tournament, and the Charitable Foundation held its third annual River Run Charity Golf Tournament to benefit “The House that Realtors® Built” for Habitat for Humanity. The event raised more than $7,000 for the house, which was built in October 1993 at 816 East 17th Street. Another hot topic in ’93 was a hand-held device capable of receiving a limited MLS download, called Pocket MLS. The Community Service Committee also won second place in the NCAR scrapbook competition, and the Association kicked off the “Be Wi$e, Buy Now” ad campaign on billboards, radio and in the newspaper. The Commercial Listing Exchange (CLE) moved from being a committee to an “overlay board,” the first such structure in the Carolinas. Lawing explained that while the Association had jurisdiction over just Mecklenburg County and later Iredell County, the overlay concept enabled a commercial board — since its membership was smaller — to cover the jurisdictions of multiple local residential boards. The CLE became the overlay board for 18 counties — three in South Carolina and 15 in North Carolina — making it the first commercial board to bridge two states. Discussion within the CLE in the early ’90s focused on education, how to best provide services and establishment of its own president. Since commercial listings were not exclusive, the CLE did not mesh well with the MLS. When the Association spun off CLE in 1995, the ability to make bylaws and MLS rules and education specific to commercial Realtors® were driving factors. Lawing believed his own contacts with commercial Realtors® as a property manager helped him work with the CLE during its transitional years. Edna Chirico became executive vice president of the new Charlotte Regional Commercial Board of Realtors®. The Association continued to provide it the MLS, accounting services and other support for several years. Eventually, the commercial board created their own MLS. “Residential and commercial don’t even look like each other,” said 1996 President Bill Lackey, a proponent of separate licensing for commercial and residential real estate agents. Meanwhile in 1994, the Association’s MLS began an 800-number computer support line, and discussion began of adding Cabarrus and Gaston counties to the listing service. In June 1994, a proposal to merge Iredell County’s Realtor® association with the Charlotte Association of Realtors® was accepted, with the two associations merging in November. The Iredell organization also included all of Alexander County except Wittenburg Township. 53 | canopy100.com
In December 1994, Realtors® in both Gaston and Cabarrus counties sold their MLS operations to the Association’s MLS, known as of May 4, 1994, as the Piedmont Multiple Listing Service. While Carolyn Thomasson’s 1994 presidential year was busy, she recalled it as “very noncontroversial.” Nevertheless, Association leaders laid important Carolyn Thomasson President, 1994 groundwork for future growth. “Change happens over time,” she said. “Fortunately, we had some visionary leadership and that makes a difference.” The MLS was in a “building mode,” she said. The Association was pondering its next incarnation of the MLS, and relationships with other counties were coming together. The CLE was working toward becoming a separate entity, a move that Thomasson said was “the right thing for them to have done. There were so many differences … our interests were different.” Overall, Thomasson recalls ’94 as a “smooth, nice year where things worked together and people worked together.” At the national association, the program that would become Realtor.com was being developed; though, Thomasson conceded that the local excitement for the site was never as great as at the national level. Anne Little, president in 1995, remembered her year as a “critical change time.” Not only did the Association and MLS again change their names, the Association moved from individual members or committees running functions such as accounting and education to a staff-managed organization. This change led to reducing positions on the board and ending several committees. The CMLS Advisory Group was born to provide direction to MLS. The moves were fairly controversial, Little remembered, and required bylaw changes. “The small company/large company friction was pretty aggressive at that time,” she explained. Small companies tended to like things as they were, with an emphasis on social events and free monthly lunches, while the larger organizations wanted a broader range of services.
Anne Little President, 1995
Chapter 10 | Canopy Through The Decades
Little characterized the shift as moving from primarily a social organization to a true trade association. “We talked a lot about the future of real estate and tomorrow’s Realtor®,” she said, noting the need to focus on future technology needs. The Association also moved from being solely supported by dues to generating much of its operating revenue from operations. In 1995, the Association approved a contract for MULTACC lockboxes. Before this, a Supra box with a manual key was being used, but all keys fit all boxes — a less-than-optimal security situation. The Association also approved development of MLSConnect. A computer task force spent time looking at MLS systems of other boards, Little recalled, and none of the available off-the-shelf systems provided significant advantages over the Association’s current system, BORIS. They were not Windows-based, and none provided more capacity than BORIS, which the Association was outgrowing. “We needed to be regional, and we wished for a system with scalability” to make that regionalization possible, Little said. “We didn’t really intend to (develop software),” she noted, “but as the enormity of the system came about … it was the best decision offered at the time.” During her term, Little said the board realized that in an industry where an increasing number of providers competed to provide services to Realtors®, the Association had “no face, no recognition, an outdated logo” and no unified graphic look pulling together its printed materials. The Association’s image was “a cacophony of nothing,” she said. So the board hired advertising and marketing consultant Jan Thompson, who recommended name changes, new logos and a more standardized look. The name Charlotte Regional Realtor® Association (CRRA) was adopted to reflect the group’s growth beyond Mecklenburg County. For the same reason, Piedmont Multiple Listing Service became the Carolina Multiple Listing Services (CMLS). Diamond-shaped logos in burgundy, green and orange denoted the Association, the MLS and Mingle School. The Association also upgraded Realtor® Reflections to a slick magazine with more content, an in-house advertising representative and a contract editor. It was important, recalled Little, to “sell” members on benefits they received for their membership, since most were unaware of the services available to them through the Association. Among other changes in ’95, the Association’s library disbanded and The Realtor® Store expanded to provide more than MLS forms. Offering additional items caused a stir at the state association which viewed the store and courses offered through Mingle School as competition with state-provided services. The state association approved standardized listing, sales and agency forms the same year. Among other activities in 1995, Mingle School presented the Certified International Property Specialist program, and the Charitable Foundation earned $9,000 on a designer house 54 | canopy100.com
The Association continued its Habitat tradition in 1995. Some who participated in the project were (back row, from left): 1995 President-Elect Bill Lackey, Project Manager/Fundraiser Anne-Marie Davis, House Leader Rick Montgomery and Habitat Executive Director Bert Green. On the front row are homeowner Teresa Small, daughter Octavia and son Lacorean.
fundraiser. One Special Christmas raised $70,000, and the Association once again built a Habitat house. Association-sponsored social events experienced waning participation. Quarterly lunches with speakers were attempted but didn’t draw enough attendees to continue. The 1995 board installation event was the last luncheon before the event changed to a black-tie evening gala. Little said that as luncheons and other social events became more difficult, the mood changed from holding fundraisers for community causes to soliciting contributions. The year’s biggest event was the annual state convention, held in Charlotte and sporting the theme, “Real Estate is a Contact Sport.”
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Canopy Through the Decades
raising the bar, 1996-2006 Chapter 11 | Embracing Cyberspace Chapter 12 | 9/11 Shock Chapter 13 | Visibility & Volunteerism
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Chapter 11 | Canopy Through The Decades
EMBRACING CYBERSPACE MLS books curtailed, CMLS rolls out Maestro in 1998 In the late 1990s, CRRA’s major focus mirrored one of the biggest cultural changes in the waning years of the 20th century — the rise of information technology, specifically the emergence of the internet and an increasing reliance on computers. Not only did the Association launch its own website, it shifted the MLS to a more sophisticated computer-based system, eventually eliminating all but quarterly printed MLS books and providing members access to the MLS through the internet. In 1996, the Association had high hopes for MLSConnect, a custom CMLS software program to replace the BORIS system. In a national search for new MLS software in the mid-’90s, CMLS leaders had been unable to find an existing product that would meet the MLS’s needs for growth and flexibility, so the Association contracted with software developer Ikon Office Solutions in 1997 to create MLSConnect. Also in 1996, CRRA launched CarolinaHome.com, the Association’s website, on July 1. It debuted with limited functions and just a few pages of content. Other activities that year included a crime prevention seminar held by Mecklenburg County police, quarterly member brunches and a highly successful Builder/ Realtor® Forum. The Association also modified its election process to allow members greater voting flexibility. “Vote by mail” became an option for returning ballots for annual board elections. Prior to the ’96 election, ballots could only be cast in person at the Association headquarters on a specified day.
In 1996, CRRA launched CarolinaHome.com.
1996 President Bill Lackey said he was proudest of the move to vote by mail, which boosted participation and
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regionalism. Also during his term, he remembered that MLSConnect was still looking positive; though, it was “one decision that, if we had a chance to redo, we would do differently,” he said. A challenge during his year was “to take regionalization and make it and the running of the Association more of a business issue.” Lackey said his board tried to empower the staff to move away from Bill Lackey President, 1996 a social focus for Association activities and increase its business emphasis, helping make members more successful and profitable. Another issue, “board of choice,” was promoted by NAR, and in hindsight, Lackey said, it was “much ado about nothing.” He also preferred more local autonomy for boards from NAR. “I never believed that NAR should be able to tell local associations how to do business,” Lackey said. “Real estate is a local business, and local associations should determine how to do business.” The next year, 1997, the Association reached out to the community in several key ways. It launched quarterly Business Summits that featured luncheons with high-profile local leaders. CRRA also created its own television show, “CarolinaHome,” a news magazine-style program that ran on WBTV. The program combined home tours with news and tips about home buying and interviews with experts. In another effort, a monthlong series called “Smart Home Buying: Doing It the Right Way” provided information to both
Chapter 11 | Canopy Through The Decades
Realtors® and the public, and included a fair housing forum and a cross-cultural event. But the Association never lost its focus on providing member services. Allan Nanney, the 1997 president, emphasized CRRA’s importance to members in a Reflections article at the time. “It didn’t take long when I became a Realtor® to appreciate how much potential impact the Association could have on the way we do business,” he wrote. Nanney stepped down from the presidency in April 1997 after taking a real estate position in Myrtle Beach. President-Elect Larry Talbot stepped into the top leadership position. “One of the most startling mornings was when I got a call from Allan to have lunch,” Talbot recalled. Happy for Nanney when he learned about the new position, Talbot only gradually began to realize the implication of what Nanney’s departure meant, that Talbot would be taking on the presidency about six months early.
Larry Talbot President, 1997, 1998
CMLS converted from the BORIS system to Maestro in late 1998, only about three months after abandoning MLSConnect.
But Talbot didn’t miss a beat in what would turn out to be a busy, sometimes turbulent term. “I think it’s important to give back to an industry that’s been good to us — I just had no idea I’d have to give so much back in so short a time!” he said with a laugh.
Two months after he became president, the North Carolina Real Estate Commission mandated designated agency on July 1, 1997. Also that year, a golf tournament sponsored by the Charitable Foundation raised $5,000 for a Habitat for Humanity house, and Mingle School celebrated its 25th anniversary with a continuingeducation cruise. With listings, CMLS began a live help desk to handle computer questions. With Talbot still at the helm in 1998, MLSConnect emerged as the big issue. The rollout of the customized software system was announced at the 1997 holiday luncheon, but it proved not to be ready in 1998 as planned. A host of technical issues plagued MLSConnect. The programming platform the developers had chosen had fallen out of favor, and the starter database for each subscriber had to be burned to a CD and installed; it couldn’t be downloaded.
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Furthermore, when a subscriber went on vacation for a week and didn’t update the system through nightly downloads, the download required to update the system upon return was too large; the subscriber had to reinstall the whole system with a CD. Also, the infrastructure of the internet was pedestrian by today’s standards. Internet speeds for the average person at that time were only 33.6K over a dial-up modem. Cellular internet and Wi-Fi didn’t yet exist. Still, the concept behind the system had been worthwhile. MLSConnect would have allowed Realtors® to have a complete copy of the database on their laptops, so they could search the MLS remotely, while at appointments, in their cars or at other places without having to be connected to the internet. And, from a business standpoint, MLSConnect offered a potential revenue stream for CMLS that would offset the development cost. The idea was that once MLSConnect was in use, CMLS would license or sell it to other MLSs. By September 1998, realizing that MLSConnect wasn’t going to work out, the CMLS Board of Directors changed course. The board quickly adopted the Maestro system — an off-the-shelf program that was sophisticated for the time and had not been available when MLSConnect was conceived in the mid-’90s. CMLS converted from the BORIS system to Maestro in late 1998, only about three months after abandoning MLSConnect. The urgency to get a new system in place was driven by data concerns related to Y2K, the movement to protect IT systems from disruptions with the advent of the year 2000. BORIS was not Y2K ready, but Maestro was, and the Association moved into high gear to make the change. More than 4,500 members received training over eight weeks prior to the launch of Maestro in December 1998. Broker Briefings began as a way to answer questions about Maestro and were so successful they became quarterly events. Talbot was “proud of the spirit overall with which most of our members accepted the need for a more technologically advanced state.” Decisions made during this time, Talbot believed, kept CRRA “on the cutting edge” in the industry. He also lauded the staff. “The thing that most sticks in my mind is that when we had tough decisions and a very tough time, I learned more about the quality of the staff and their ability to help those of us who are ‘part-time administrators’ and full-time Realtors®,” he said. “When I had the need to have the staff step up, they did it in an incredible way, doing double and triple duty to make sure Realtor® service did not miss a beat.” Talbot also recalled that he “was assisted by calling on Realtor® peers to make tough decisions about what was best for our industry.” Major changes occurred on the personnel front as well in 1998. Longtime CEO Roy Currie — who had held the post since 1986 and been named 1997 Realtor® of the Year — left to pursue a career as a Realtor® and manager for a real estate company. Sandy Griffin, vice president of human resources and administration, stepped in as interim CEO. Also that year,
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"I have found it particularly rewarding to represent the Association at state and national meetings. It's gratifying that other associations see us as a leader in many ways." — Larry Talbot President Larry Talbot (left) with former Charlotte Mayor Richard Vinroot
Reflections magazine received a more contemporary design beginning with the October 1998 issue. Talbot took pride in CRRA’s acknowledged role as a leader among its peers. “I have found it particularly rewarding to represent the Association at state and national meetings,” he said. “It’s gratifying that other associations see us as a leader in many ways — The Realtor® Store, Mingle School, Reflections, owning our own building, to name a few.” On the lighter side, one of his favorite memories was of a stint in the “dunk tank” at the Fish Fry, letting himself be drenched to raise money for RPAC. Also in 1998, the Association approved plans for its Leadership Development Program, which would launch the next year, and added governance training to broaden the skills of the board. A new membership database and accounting system made internal processes more efficient. The Realtor® Store became Roy Currie Executive Officer, CEO, 1986-1998 accessible on the internet, and the Association stepped up media relations. Tommy Lawing Jr. became NCAR president, and Micki Fisher became an NAR director. Sandy Larsh became CRRA president in 1999. The Association’s launch of the Leadership Development Program and the hiring of Tim Minton as CEO on Feb. 15 were her personal highlights that year. “I am really pleased and proud of that,” she said. A big theme for her presidency was a deeply held conviction that each Realtor® must find his or her “voice” and “speak up and be counted.” 60 | canopy100.com
Among services, CMLS improved photography and added new digital phone service that improved access. The Supra electronic lockbox was launched in March. “I think the new Supra lockbox was definitely in the best interest of the members,” Larsh said. That year also saw the first major relaunch and expansion of CarolinaHome.com, which added an array of consumer and member services. The website added searchable MLS listings and debuted webpages that could be customized for the individual Realtor®. Paying dues and registering for Mingle School classes online also became a reality. In May, The OH! (Open House) Homebuyer’s Showcase provided a onestop location for consumers to meet Realtors® and Sandy Larsh others essential to buying a President, 1999 new home. In the summer, the legal liability of square-footage measurements in the MLS began to be addressed, and although it was a thorny topic, Larsh said, “I’m glad we broached the subject and took it to the state level for resolution.” Other highlights of 1999 included: forming an Association Delegates’ program, Maestro becoming accessible over the internet, the building of a Habitat house and raising record contributions to RPAC ($34,236). The RPAC accomplishment came about thanks to a raffle led by CEO Tim Minton. Renovations to the Association’s offices included a new lobby configuration, an improved Realtor® Store and fresh paint and
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new carpet throughout. Mingle School launched several new offerings — the Education Value Card, a technology track of computer classes and a course for home buyers.
Tim Minton CEO, 1999-2001
During 2000, the Association emphasized building a closer relationship with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools as the system went through a protracted court case over race-based student assignments and began to plan for new assignment plan. President Patty McKeel cited the dialogue the Association established with the schools as her proudest accomplishment.
Through many meetings and forums, McKeel believed that school administrators came to view school issues “through the eyes of a Realtor®.” That change, she said, was “a huge awakening.” Patty McKeel Simply educating school President, 2000 administrators on how any policy that impacts new construction affects Realtors® was an important inroad. She also hoped members better understood the many good aspects of the CharlotteMecklenburg Schools and would talk about them to home buyers.
Forum and Fair broke previous attendance records with its focus on school issues.
At the end of 2000, the Association had 4,137 members, a record figure FOR THE TIME and a 9 percent increase over 1999.
As the Association moved into the new millennium, it did so with momentum. At the end of 2000, the Association had 4,137 members, a record figure and a 9 percent increase over 1999. But growth rates would rise even more dramatically in the next decade, as the Charlotte region continued to grow and prosper and the Association played a key role in providing education and services that Realtors® needed to be successful.
In July 2000, nearly 70 Realtors® showed up for a presentation at First Ward Elementary School by officials of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.
Among other activities in 2000, CarolinaHome.com made more strides. It gained 360-degree photography, information in Spanish and the Find a Rental section. Orientation for new members was improved and shortened; the OH! Homebuyers’ Showcase returned for a second year — this time adding a Fair and Affordable Housing Pavilion — and the Fish Fry drew the biggest crowd in recent memory, nearly 600. Another highlight for McKeel in 2000 was the détente forged between Realtors® and home inspectors through a task force exploring joint issues. “We have come a long way to improve dialogue,” said McKeel, who was happy that NCAR used an inspections brochure created by CRRA as a model. The Leadership Development Program continued to train Association members for service, and a Builder/Realtor®
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In 1999, the first major expansion of carolinahome.com added consumer and member services, MLS listings and web pages that could be customized for use by individual Realtors®.
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9/11 SHOCK Association rallies spirits, Creates Home Giveaway
As CRRA moved into the new millennium, 2001 would be remembered for something far bigger than accomplishments of Realtors®, other professions or almost anything else going on at the time. On September 11 and long afterward, people grappled with the horror of three terrorist attacks on the U.S. and the loss of more than 3,000 lives. With the country reeling, CRRA had to decide whether to go ahead with one of its biggest and most popular events of the year, the annual CRRA Candidate Fish Fry. “Like any shock, there are a range of emotions — anger, sorrow, grief, pity, even to a certain extent disbelief,” recalled 2001 CRRA President Mike Rash. “There was a lot of debate. 9/11 happened on Tuesday, and the event was Thursday. It was a hard decision, but we decided ‘Yes, we needed to be together’ — the sooner people would get out of the house and be with other people, they could start the healing process.” And that’s what happened. Though the Fish Fry was subdued, the positive energy that came from talking to others about the trauma was Mike Rash palpable. Some even had President, 2001 friends and family who died in the attacks. “People really appreciated being there and being together as a family,” Rash remembered. Realtors® would soon need that good energy to work through something else — an extremely slow market brought on by shaken consumer confidence from the attacks. “It was like a time warp — things were just frozen,” Rash continued. “It seemed people didn’t start coming out of their homes until December and January. It was the first time we’d faced anything like that.”
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9/11 occupied an unwelcome spot on center stage through the rest of ’01 and would continue to color national politics for many years. But once the initial psychological impact of the attacks subsided, CRRA returned to some sense of normalcy. Themes emerging in the new millennium were: leadership, affordable housing, continued technological innovation, increased regionalism, political strength and growth. Rash faced a leadership challenge his first day as president in January 2001. Association CEO Tim Minton called to say he was resigning to return to Raleigh, where he had family and had worked prior to coming to CRRA in February 1999. “I said, ‘Well Tim, I’ve enjoyed working with you these three hours,’” Rash quipped. Minton smiled and offered a strong recommendation of a replacement. He tapped Anne Marie Howard, who had served as CRRA’s general counsel for about six months and had been deputy director of the Real Estate and Building Industry Coalition (REBIC) for past six years.
The Association set up an Affordable Housing Certificate Program to help Realtors® learn how to work with low-to-moderate income buyers.
Rash agreed and so did the Executive Committee and full Board of Directors. “We had her ratified, qualified and bonafide in about three hours,” Rash recalled with a chuckle, and the choice would prove to be felicitous. “She’s put together a good staff who stays on top of things and keeps people informed,” Rash noted. “It’s been a big asset that she’s an attorney. She’s done a great job.” Also in early 2001, Rash kindled what would become an Association fire on behalf of affordable housing. In the past, CRRA had worked on Habitat for Humanity and other affordable housing projects. Rash made the topic his theme for the year, appointing a Presidential Advisory Group of Realtors®, government officials and community leaders. Collectively, they spotlighted challenges for low-to-moderate income buyers
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in a market of rapidly rising home costs. “We identified problems but didn’t have solutions,” Rash said. But from the discussions came one of the Association’s most impressive projects ever, and one not seen elsewhere in the country, according to NAR officials. Within both the CRRA board and the Association’s Fair and Affordable Housing Advisory Council (FAHAC) in 2001, members tossed around ideas of what the Association could do about helping buyers challenged by the price of housing, credit issues and other factors. “We broached the idea (of giving away a home) at one of our meetings and mentioned it to board members,” recalled Anthony Lindsey, FAHAC chair in 2001. But who initiated the discussion in the board meeting seems lost to posterity. Some even say the idea germinated on an Association trip. “There was a groundswell,” Lindsey said. “It materialized out of people’s desire to do something.” Anne Marie Howard became the Association's CEO in early 2001. Years later through marriage, she would become Anne Marie DeCatsye.
Still, giving away a house seemed like a daunting task. “Y’all are crazy, we can’t do this” was the reaction of David Barnhart, who was in the board meeting where the idea came up in late 2001. Recalled Lindsey, “There was a lot of anxiety about how we would do it, where the money would come from, and was this the type of thing we wanted to do with the Association’s resources — all legitimate concerns.
With regionalism, Rash followed up on a strategic planning recommendation from the previous year to look at expanding the governance of CMLS. “There hadn’t been any significant change to MLS governance since 1976,” he remembered. “We were running the MLS like it was 500 members,” when in reality there were about 10 times that many. Rash appointed a task force of the past 10 CRRA presidents and several others, led by 1993 President Tommy Lawing Jr. The group met 11 times over the spring and summer to hammer out a consensus for a broader governance structure. The diligence paid off. The CRRA board accepted the task force’s recommendations in the fall and scheduled a vote of CMLS Member Participants for early 2002. “I give great credit to Tommy in how he ran the task force,” Rash said. “People checked their egos at the door and listened.” 1995 President Anne Little called the group, “unquestionably the most effective task force I’ve been involved in during my years in the Association. … We worked through issues in a very straightforward manner, and there were not a lot of hidden differences — just honest differences.”
Anthony Lindsey Chair, Fair and Affordable Housing Advisory Council, 2001
“But once we did enough background research and put together a structure, people were convinced this was something we could pull off,” he continued. “It was my first board meeting in 2002 when we officially approved it. I was happy we persevered enough to get people excited and engaged and the apprehension had disappeared. This was a great opportunity for us as Realtors® to give back to the community.” So the wheels were set in motion, and the Home Giveaway would come to fruition in late 2002.
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“There hadn’t been any significant change to MLS governance since 1976.” Mike Rash remembered.
Meanwhile, on the technology front in ’01, the internet had emerged as the preferred information tool for more and more consumers. NAR encouraged associations to have their brokers provide modified MLS listings for firm websites. This was called “Broker Reciprocity,” and later became known as the Internet Data Exchange, or IDX. The CMLS staff worked hard to educate users on this change and achieved great success. By late 2001, 98 percent of brokers within CMLS were participating.
The Association established a plan to educate CMLS users about the proposed changes, and 2002 President Bill Mathers appointed Lamar Kellar and Tony Smith, both active with the CMLS Advisory Group, to co-chair a CMLS Implementation Task Force and to serve as spokespersons. “Everybody wanted to have a say — large companies, small companies and medium-size companies,” Mathers recalled. “There was a lot of politicking going on.” But by the time voting day rolled around at the Grady Cole Center in Charlotte, the Association’s leadership was hopeful but cautious about the governance change. To the surprise of Mathers and others leading the charge, CMLS Member Participants voted for it — unanimously. “It was an unbelievable meeting,” Mathers said. “Nobody expected us to have that happen. You can never have two Realtors®
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agree on two things much less a whole membership.” The change, which would be effective Jan. 1, 2003, brought about a new 18-person CMLS Board of Directors, which included six seats for associations, three for largecompany representatives, one for a small company representative and three for at-large representatives. The board’s Executive Committee would be same as that of the Bill Mathers President, 2002 CRRA board. Previously, the CMLS board was the same as the CRRA board, and the CMLS Advisory Group functioned strictly in an advisory capacity. The new CMLS board would handle spending and decide rules and regulations, and the CRRA board would retain approval of the CMLS budget. The vote also gave all CMLS users — not just Member Participants — a vote on items that required a membership vote. “The new structure is a good hybrid,” said Kellar, a Gaston Realtor® who had advocated expanded governance for years. Beyond CMLS governance, 2002 was notable for many other things: passage of online voting for CRRA and CMLS elections, the 30th anniversary of the Mingle School of Real Estate and redesigning the association’s CarolinaHome.com website. 2002 also featured President Bill Mathers’ theme of Realtors® assisting underserved populations — especially Latinos and Asians — and the creation of the UNC Charlotte master’s degree in real estate, supported financially by the Association and individual members, most notably John Crosland Jr. and Chet Snow Jr. Together, the two men raised $640,500 for the program. The Association had given $50,000 when the campaign began in the ’90s. Yet, the topics that would dominate the rest of the year were the first Home Giveaway and the selection of an internet-based MLS. As the Association hammered out the legal and operational details of the Home Giveaway, CRRA board member Mike LaRuffa and his colleague Geraldine Lackey worked with Chip Shelton, president of Liberty Homes, to secure a site and floor plan. LaRuffa and Lackey also sought contributions of money, labor and materials from other builders to construct the home. “You have to give most of the credit to Mike,” Mathers said. “He jumped in to do this and ran the show. He and his committee pulled it off.” Said LaRuffa, then president of Builder Services Inc., “I wanted the recognition for my builders. It was the entrepreneurial spirit and giving back to the community.”
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To use the giveaway to further homeownership for low-andmoderate income people, Association leaders coupled it with a mandatory homeownership education program for giveaway contestants. The contestants would have to complete the program, be mortgage ready and qualified as first-time buyers to be eligible for the giveaway. To that end, the Association enlisted the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Housing Partnership to provide homeownership counseling and qualify the participants.
Association board member Mike LaRuffa led the effort to secure builder participation in the first Home Giveaway.
Department, Jordan soon learned his luck had turned in a big way — that he’d won the house. He couldn’t sleep and his voice became hoarse from yelping for joy with his five-year-old daughter. “Owning my own home has been something I have always wanted — especially since Geonna was born,” Jordan explained. The new three-bedroom, two-bath home at 655 Hoskins Ridge Lane in Stewarts Glen was a dream come true, he said.
On November 17, a cold rainy Saturday, the contestants, Association and partnership officials, the media and others gathered at the home to be given away in northwest Charlotte. Yet, when Geoffrey Jordan’s name was drawn as the winner, the 55-year-old single dad was nowhere to be found. He’d gone out of town to visit relatives, demoralized by a lender canceling an appointment the day before. A counselor with the Mecklenburg County Health
“There was a groundswell. It materialized out of people’s desire to do something.” — 2002 Board Member Anthony Lindsey on the Home Giveaway
The program also helped the other contestants. Eighteen of the 28 who had qualified for the drawing went on to buy homes.
To celebrate the giveaway and rev up enthusiasm for the next one, CRRA made it the centerpiece of its annual holiday luncheon a few weeks later. More than 500 Realtors® turned out for the Dec. 2 event at the Adam’s Mark Hotel in uptown Charlotte. Also on hand were U.S. representatives from the Charlotte area, Republicans Robin Hayes and Sue Myrick and Democrat Mel Watt.
Chapter 12 | Canopy Through The Decades
Winner of the first Home Giveaway, Geoffrey Jordan held daughter Geonna while being congratulated by U.S. Representatives Robin Hayes (from left), Sue Myrick and Mel Watt.
Charitable Foundation in 1987 and was briefly called the CRRA Realtor® Charitable Fund in 2003. The new name would be the CRRA Housing Opportunity Foundation, with a mission of providing “support and funding on a charitable and educational basis for housing opportunities for all.” The foundation committed to giving away a house every year beginning in 2004 and raising a $1 million endowment by 2013.
Waiters in hard hats and blue jeans served lunch in paint cans, brought in by wheelbarrows to the tune of “Our House.” Attendees also viewed a documentary that explained the giveaway and captured the spirit of why CRRA had undertaken such an ambitious project. Attendees also could bid on silent and live auction items, which raised more than $14,000 toward the next giveaway. “It was so exciting to see the culmination of all the hard work put forth this year by CRRA and the partnership,” CEO and General Counsel Anne Marie Howard said. “Realtors®, staff and special guests saw firsthand what our organizations are doing about the affordable housing problem in Charlotte.” The Association also soon set up an Affordable Housing Certificate Program to help Realtors® learn how to work with low-to-moderate income buyers. Approved by the CRRA board in February 2003, the self-guided program required Realtors® to attend five educational sessions over two years. Under the wing of the Association’s Fair and Affordable Housing Advisory Council, the certificate program had graduated more than 50 as of late 2006 and is seeking to become an NAR designation. Yet, as Association leaders contemplated giving away another home in 2003, they realized they needed to shore up some organizational infrastructure to make the giveaway a permanent project. They also had been talking for some time about tightly focusing their charitable efforts, and housing seemed the logical choice. “I saw we were worker bees,” said 2003 President-Elect David Barnhardt. “We’d scratch out a little money for a good cause and we’d spend it. There was no bigpicture stuff, including no criteria for what we would support.” So in lieu of giving away a home in 2003, Association leaders set up endowed and non-endowed funds at the Foundation for the Carolinas and changed the name of what began as the
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“We did a lot of work,” 2003 President Tony Smith remembered. “We put together a structure, tried to figure out how it was going to work and who was going to be responsible. It was a collective effort.” Another collective effort during 2002 and 2003 was the selection and rollout of a new MLS system, which would be internet based for the first time. “We had a really good (selection) committee led by Jennifer Frontera,” recalled Mathers, 2002 president. “We traveled a lot. We probably looked at four or five systems and were serious about two or three.” The Association also relied on the expertise of Chief Information Officer Steve Byrd, other CMLS and CRRA staff and consultant Gregg Larson. “Having a well-picked committee, great staff and Gregg were keys to a good result,” remembered CEO and General Counsel Anne Marie Howard. By December 2002, the Association selected MarketLinx Solutions (later called First American MLS Solutions) to provide its TEMPO system. TEMPO got the nod because it was widely market tested and agent feedback was positive. “I said, ‘Hey, we’re going to deliver this on my watch, and as much as I love the other guys, delivery to the membership is the most important thing,” said 2003 President Tony Smith, a member of the selection committee. He was also excited about the technology, which represented a major upgrade yet necessitated no dues or fee increases for members. Gone was the need to download software and use dial-in modems. “We were going from a DOS-based system to a Windows, web-based MLS,” Smith said. “With regular updates, it keeps us on the cutting edge. It’s a fabulous deal.” Also notable in 2003, the Association Board of Directors added an elected seat for a director from Iredell County, to be filled by a member associated with an office in Iredell County. Only Iredell and Alexander county members were eligible to vote for the Iredell County director. Two years later, Association bylaws
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would change to say the person holding the seat must work in a real estate office in Iredell and that all Association members would vote for the position. In 2003, Tony Smith’s presidency was interesting for another reason. He would become the first of three second-generation Realtors® to lead the Association. Tony’s mother, Wanda Smith, had been an icon in residential sales in the 1980s and early ’90s. Following Tony Smith as president would be David Barnhardt and John Byers III, each of whom had a parent serve as CRRA president as well. “We’re blessed by good leadership,” Howard said. “Having children of past leaders step up says a lot about our Association and helps us keep a keen eye on member service and the future.” Foremost in Tony Smith’s mind, though, was not the Tony Smith President, 2003 past but the present. A smooth rollout of TEMPO occurred in August 2003. Leading up to it were the fine-tuning of the system design and the training of CMLS users. Both came off without a major problem, thanks to Association leadership and staff, consultant Larson, MarketLinx and the design committee, led by Jennifer Frontera. “She did a fabulous job,” Smith said. “We were in a little bit of a bind,” he continued. “We had a system (Maestro) that was getting ready to expire, and we were changing to a different vendor. But we did our homework, had a plan and executed it. There were no glitches; it was awesome.”
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Chapter 13 | Canopy Through The Decades
VISIBILITY & VOLUNTEERISM Realtor® value promoted, Foundation gains momentum When David Barnhardt became president in 2004, he had big shoes to follow in his own family. His mother Catherine Browning was CRRA president in 1992, Realtor® of the Year in 1996 and a well-known Charlotte leader. As president of the Charlotte Junior League, she helped save Fourth Ward in the 1970s. She also led other organizations and cofounded the charitable group, Good Friends.
The Association and individual members also garnered awards in 2004. 1993 President Tommy Lawing Jr. was named North Carolina Realtor® of the Year; 1986 President Micki Fisher entered the NCAR Hall of Fame and Cindy Chandler was voted NCAR president-elect, to take office in 2006. Reflections magazine won a Silver Crown Award from the Charlotte chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) for its August 2004 cover story, “The Greening of Charlotte,” on energy-efficient homes. The magazine also won one local and two regional IABC awards in 2001. When the Home Giveaway returned, it had a new place in the calendar — in June, to coincide with National Homeownership Month. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Housing Partnership (later The Housing Partnership) again educated contestants in homeownership and qualified them to buy a home.
2004 President David Barnhardt emphasized community service.
Not surprisingly perhaps, Barnhardt chose “volunteerism” as his presidential theme, imploring members through a “License to Serve” theme to contribute to the region’s quality of life. “As Realtors® we draw so much from the community and we need to give back,” he said. “I encourage all members to go out and grab hold of something you’re passionate about — be it at church, school, Habitat for Humanity, United Family Services, your neighborhood or arts and cultural organizations.”
Liberty Homes returned as the host builder, this time fully constructing the home as well. Other builders, mortgage companies and members of the real estate community funded the project. The program also expanded beyond Mecklenburg County to include Cabarrus, Union, Gaston, Iredell, Lincoln and Stanly counties.
Also in 2004, the Association resumed its Home Giveaway program, made a pivotal real estate purchase and celebrated its Leadership Development Program, then five years old. CRRA also saw the strength of its staff when CEO and General Counsel Anne Marie Howard took about two months of maternity leave to adopt her daughter Kate, in Russia. “The staff knew their roles, stepped up and did the job,” Barnhardt said.
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Despite June 29 being a steamy summer evening, a festive crowd gathered at King’s Creek subdivision in south Charlotte, enjoying food, a steel-drum band and tours of the 1,050-squarefoot home to be given away. When Liberty Homes President Chip Shelton drew the name of Dave Wolan, the 45-year-old military retiree and delivery contractor had a look of disbelief. “I don’t know what to say other than thank you,” he told the crowd. “This is a great little gift from God, and I appreciate it very much.” Also in June 2004, the Association closed on a property near its headquarters in the Midtown area of Charlotte. The site,
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1225 Harding Place, represented 1.26 acres and contained a 15,974-square-foot office building, which was being leased. Two years later, in 2006, CRRA would buy another nearby site, 1229 Greenwood Cliff, giving the Association slightly over 5 contiguous acres and another office building (34,000 square feet) in a rapidly redeveloping area. The investments and rental income allowed CRRA to provide more services without raising dues and to prepare if the MLS were ever no longer owned by the Association. “We did our due diligence with these purchases,” Barnhardt said at the time. “Future leadership will decide what to do with the property. It might be the financial lifeblood of the Association.” No doubt some of that future leadership will come from the annual Leadership Development Program, which Barnhardt had championed since its conception in 1998 and its first class in 1999. “The goal was to groom agents for leadership roles within CRRA and the community and help make them better Realtors®,” Barnhardt said. “And that’s what has happened.”
John Byers III President, 2005
In 2005, when John Byers III was installed as president, he followed his father in the role by nearly four decades. John Byers Jr. was an executive with C.D. Spangler Construction Company and Association president in 1968. Though he primarily managed rental properties, the older Byers took pride in having his broker’s license and was active in the Association for many years. His son stressed “awareness” — trumpeting Association benefits to fellow members and informing the public about the value of working with a Realtor®.
The Association distributed “Call your Local Realtor®” stickers to members, with the black-and-white ovals showing up on everything from cars to baby diapers. The Association also launched its first public awareness campaign — a $250,000, regionally focused series of radio ads, which began in March and ran into October. Thirty and 60-second spots aired on six FM radio stations as CRRA drew the distinction between real estate agents and Realtors® and highlighted the value of working with a local Realtor®, the benefit of contacting a Realtor® directly and the power of CMLS. The campaign was so successful it was repeated in 2006. Other big stories in 2005 were the successful rollout of new lockboxes, another Home Giveaway and the Association’s continued rise in political influence through RPAC. The Association also took pride in the installation of wireless
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Dave Wolan, winner of the 2004 Home Giveaway home, accepts the keys from President David Barnhardt as Liberty Homes President Chip Shelton looks on.
technology at CRRA headquarters and the growth and stability of the Mingle School of Real Estate. “Mingle was being challenged a bit in the early 2000s,” recalled CEO Anne Marie Howard. “It had name recognition, but other schools were coming on. I give Karyn Lindsey (Mingle School director who arrived in 2003) a lot of credit. She’s done a good job of making the school a cornerstone for us.” With the lockbox rollout, approximately 2,230 MLS users exchanged approximately 27,000 old lockboxes and were trained on new ones over five days in May at the Charlotte Merchandise Mart (now The Park Expo and Conference Center) in east Charlotte. The new lockboxes used infrared key technology to open them. Users incurred no new costs or fees unless they elected to upgrade their key from the basic model. Byers III lauded Vice President of Member Services Michele Di Donato, the rest of the CRRA staff and vendor Supra for the smooth lockbox changeout. “Thanks for a great team effort!” he wrote in his monthly column in Reflections magazine. On the heels of the lockbox rollout came the third Home Giveaway, this time at The Park at Oaklawn, a new community on the site of a former public housing project, just north of uptown Charlotte. On the radar of state and national Realtor® leaders, the June 29 event drew a buoyant crowd on a sultry summer evening. On hand were 2005 NAR President Al Mansell, NAR Housing Opportunity Program Advisory Board Chair Kit Hale, 2005 NCAR President Vic Knight, 2005 NCAR Treasurer Danny Brock and 2005 NCAR President-Elect Cindy Chandler. Mansel and other NAR officials said they knew of no other association giving away a home where participants don’t contribute labor or funds to the home construction or purchase. High school teacher Brenda Williamson won the Saussy Burbank home, and Ralphine Summers of the CharlotteMecklenburg Housing Partnership shared with the crowd how
Chapter 13 | Canopy Through The Decades
“CRRA wanted a local lobbyist in addition to NCAR because Mecklenburg has such a big and powerful delegation,” recalled Thomsen, who in 2006 would be named REBIC executive director. Furthermore, impact fees and transfer taxes, both strongly opposed by REBIC, require stateenabling legislation, and other issues crop up from time to time. High school teacher Brenda Williamson won the 2005 Home Giveaway.
Williamson had had a dream she would win. “Dreams do come true,” someone shouted from the audience. The following day, the giveaway received more national attention when NAR and the U.S. Conference of Mayors awarded CRRA and the city of Charlotte the 2005 Ambassador for Cities designation. “The Ambassador for Cities program helps expand the relationship between mayors and the people who introduce families to communities — Realtors®,” NAR President Mansell said. “We’re proud to recognize Charlotte as a 2005 Ambassador City and support the city’s commitment to innovative housing programs…” As part of the giveaway, the city’s House Charlotte program provided down payment assistance, supplying a “forgiveable” mortgage that assures the winner will remain in the home for a period of time. Politically, the Association was also visible. For decades, it had been active in the Real Estate and Building Industry Coalition, best known as REBIC.
Since joining REBIC, Thomsen has seen the image of the organization shift. “At one time we were viewed as being opposed to everything,” she noted. “Today we have a good reputation with elected officials. If they have questions, we’re honest with them and work well with their staffs. We come to them with rational responses, trying to find compromises. We have a good reputation for sitting down at the table.” Developer Doug Boone, an early REBIC leader, said of the organization, “It’s highly professional, well organized and very credible. Having known its roots and where we started, it’s really a pleasure to see what this organization has become.” As REBIC’s influence continued to grow, Association leaders wanted to see the Association’s stature rise with another important part of the political equation: contributions to the Realtors® Political Action Committee. Tim Minton worked hard to ramp up participation over his two-year tenure as CEO, and Anne Marie Howard picked up the ball when she took over in early 2001. As the largest association in the state, CRRA had underperformed in recent years based on both participation and total giving. RPAC contributions support political candidates on the local, state and national levels. By 2003, the prospect for more RPAC growth brightened when former CRRA and NCAR president Tommy Lawing Jr. agreed to lead the annual campaign. In his first year, the
Since its inception in the mid-70s, REBIC had become one of the most powerful political entities in the Charlotte region. Along the way, it had taken over administration of the Shelter Providers Political Action Committee Enterprise (SPPACE), a real estate industry political action committee that had preceded its founding, and added paid staff. Attorneys Mark Cramer and Anne Marie Howard joined the organization as its first staff in 1995. Cramer, who had worked on a project basis for REBIC, served as a part-time executive director, and Howard, a former Washington healthcare industry lobbyist, became its full-time deputy director. REBIC also expanded staff over time, first to take on real estate issues in counties outside Mecklenburg and then to lobby in the state capital. Mary Thomsen joined REBIC in 2000 to serve as the organization’s first lobbyist in Raleigh.
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In 2005, current and former REBIC staffers enjoyed a good laugh at the expense of the organization's possum mascot. Elizabeth Barnhardt (from left), Kathie Wilson, Mary Thomsen, Mark Cramer, Jerry Campbell, Tim Morgan, Anne Marie Howard and Chris Micci.
Chapter 13 | Canopy Through The Decades
number of contributors more than doubled (to 360) and the amount raised rose 50 percent (to $40,311). The figures took another jump in 2004 and then leaped in 2005, when nearly 1,500 Realtors® raised $83,872, setting records for both donors and total amount donated. The key to the big increase was making an RPAC contribution an option on the Association’s 2005 dues billing. Yet, when some members complained, the option was removed on the 2006 dues assessment. When contributions fell precipitously in ’06, the CRRA board voted to return the option to the dues billing in 2007.
Convention Center in 2007, renaming it the Realtor® Expo. Also in 2006, the Association kept tabs on the rapidly changing environment for MLSs across the country. Dillashaw and other CRRA leaders attended national and regional meetings to discuss competitive, governmental and evolutionary pressures on the Realtor®-owned databases. Among the questions examined: Should the MLS be Association owned or broker owned? Is “ownership” or “governance” the real issue? Should MLSs merge to cover broader areas? Should brokers form their own MLSs? Will third parties create competing MLS services? While no consensus on these questions emerged in 2006, the Association stayed in the loop on the issues, gaining
The Association also continued to shore up Gay Dillashaw efforts by hiring a full-time President, 2006 staff person to work on RPAC. Elizabeth Barnhardt came to the job in early ’06 after working at REBIC and, before that, in Washington for U.S. Congressman Robin Hayes. Lawing was thrilled to welcome her aboard. “We’ve made a lot of progress, but we still need to make our goal, which goes up every year because of our growth,” he said. “Having an influence on elected officials starts with who’s elected.” After John Byers III’s presidency, Gay Dillashaw kicked off her year at the helm in 2006 with a theme that gained meaning as the months rolled by: “Providing Value with Professionalism.” She emphasized Realtors® understanding the value they bring to consumers and being able to articulate it. “Never before has our profession been attacked as it has in the past year,” she explained. “The U.S. Department of Justice, the media and general public are all questioning and attacking our business models and value. Never has it been more important for us to put forward our best efforts every day. “What we are providing to the consumer is our knowledge, our experience, our passion and our time,” she continued. “Never underestimate what we bring to the table — and always deliver it with honesty, integrity and professionalism.” 2006 stood out for many other reasons as well. Membership in CRRA and CMLS grew at a brisk pace; the Association gave away its fourth home; and the Housing Opportunity Foundation took major steps to boost its endowment. The Association also sponsored a highly successful Builder/ Realtor® Fair on February 15. Over 140 vendors and more than 1,000 Realtors® and their guests attended the Roaring ’20s-themed afternoon at The Charlotte Merchandise Mart. Based on the success and the growing interest in marketing to Realtors® and in Realtor® education, the Association decided to expand the event to a full day and move it to the Charlotte 70 | canopy100.com
Cynthia Nealson, winner of the 2006 Home Giveaway.
knowledge that will serve it well in the future. It also began looking into sharing data among MLSs in the state, efforts that ultimately didn’t materialize. Keeping an eye on the welfare of members and CMLS users remained a top priority, Dillashaw noted. “We must continue to pay attention and determine how to meet the needs of the brokers and the agents so that they can best meet the demands of the new consumer in this changing world of technology,” she said. On June 8, 2006, CRRA gave away its fourth and largest home in the Home Giveaway program. Built by Regent Homes, the 1,740-square-foot dwelling in the Mulberry Pond subdivision went to Cynthia Nealson, an employee of Carolinas Medical Center and the mother of two teenagers. When Nealson reached the podium after hearing her name called, her first words were, “Thank you, Jesus!” Nealson and the Association’s Housing Opportunity Foundation also were honored July 20 at a Bank of America event that focused on
Chapter 13 | Canopy Through The Decades
Bank of America recognized the CRRA Housing Opportunity Foundation at an event that featured former basketball star Earvin "Magic" Johnson (fourth from left). Bank of America's Don Lucas and Ken Bernardo (from left) and the Association's Anne Marie Howard, Gay Dillashaw and Rodney Tucker attended the event. Man at far right unidentified.
affordable housing. Basketball legend and real estate investor Earvin “Magic” Johnson addressed a rapt audience on the topic, particularly the importance of investing in minority communities. In August, the giveaway and foundation were showcased again, this time in a video at an NAR Leadership Summit in Chicago. They were cited as a model for community partnerships to address affordable housing needs. In addition to gaining recognition in 2006, the foundation took its first big steps toward achieving a $1 million endowment. Foundation Executive Director Rodney Tucker, an experienced fundraiser hired in November 2005, and Foundation Chair Anne “Poo” Alexander led the effort. They brought in more than $65,000 in grants, including $25,000 from Bank of America and $35,000 from the Allen Tate Foundation. The foundation also gave away $10,000 to affordable housing groups and held a variety of fundraisers to support the efforts. “Rodney and Poo brought new energy, excitement and strong leadership to the efforts to build our foundation,” Dillashaw said. Also in 2006, the Association experienced record membership growth. CRRA topped 8,000 for the first time and CMLS hit 9,700, both new highs. Growth was rapid in ’06 alone, but it was even more remarkable over the previous six years. In the fall of ’06, both CRRA and CMLS were about double the size of what each was in 2000. The increases mirrored the continued growth of the Charlotte region and the vibrancy of the real estate market. “We’re in a good area with no housing bubble and good steady growth,” former President Mike Rash remarked in 2006. “There will be a slowdown at some point, but I don’t think you’ll see a hard landing.” 2006 also marked the 85th anniversary of the Association, and the organization celebrated by commissioning a history of the
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organization entitled “Selling Charlotte: 85 Years of Realtor® Excellence.” The 121-page hardback book covered from the start of the Association in 1921 through 2006, and came out in the spring of 2007.
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Canopy Through the Decades
NUTURING THE BRAND, 2007-2021 Chapter 14 | Riding Out The Recession
Chapter 15 | Building the Realtor® Name Chapter 16 | New Name. New Place. New Challenges.
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Chapter 14 | Canopy Through The Decades
Riding Out the Recession Diversity Council forms, Realtors® Care Day debuts When Dot Munson became president in 2007, she thought the Association’s focus would be on promoting diversity, growing the Housing Opportunity Foundation and continuing to track MLS trends.
And it was — but the focus also became a whole lot more. She wound up serving an additional year at the helm and faced the onset of the Great Recession during the extra stint. Munson agreed to Dot Munson President, 2007, 2008 serve a second term after the president-elect stepped down in 2007. Past President Gay Dillashaw also agreed to continue her role for an additional year. In 2007, Munson chose “Connecting the Dots” as the tagline for the diversity effort, mirroring a phrase that NAR President Pat Vredevoogd Combs had chosen for promoting diversity on the national level. “It’s a little corny that it ties in with my name,” Munson said with a laugh. But she was serious about the effort, of course. “I want Realtors® of all backgrounds to feel a part of the Association and to get involved,” she told Realtor® Reflections magazine at the time. “We can learn a lot from each other. To serve the public, we need to know each other and help each other.” She led the effort to set up diversity sub-councils for African Americans, Latin Americans and Asian Americans. The CRRA board saw the sub-councils as a way to build strength for diversity. Munson appointed Roger Parham as the overall Diversity Council chair and head of the African American Subcouncil, the largest group. 74 | canopy100.com
Parham, who would go on to become president in 2017, saw the role of the Diversity Council as helping CRRA leadership reflect the membership. “The goal is to have a broad-based representation of leadership and to ensure that our leadership mirrors its membership,” Parham said in an Association article at the time. “I think when the leadership mirrors the membership, a different set of circumstances, a different set of concerns and different set of goals all come to the table; therefore, we’re going to be stronger as an Association.” The first meeting of the African American Sub-council was held in February 2007. It built on a highly successful organizational event from the previous fall that had attracted more than 100 attendees and featured U.S. Rep. Mel Watt, N.C. Sen. Malcolm Graham and NCAR President-Elect Wendell Bullard. The focus of the organizational meeting was “Developing African American leadership of the Charlotte Regional Realtor® Association.” By the end of 2007, both the Latin American and Asian American sub-councils were in place. The next year, the Diversity Council itself was officially formed with representation from the subcouncils to form a 10-member council. The Housing Opportunity Foundation also had a significant year in 2007. David Barnhardt, 2004 president and longtime community philanthropist, won the Foundation’s first Humanitarian Award. The award recognizes individuals, projects or groups that have made outstanding contributions in the community. The recipient designates a nonprofit organization of their choice to receive a contribution from the Foundation, a contribution that has grown over the years. In 2020, the amount was $5,000. Also in 2007, the Foundation held what would turn out to be its last Home Giveaway. Joyce Patton, a mother of three, won the drawing for a three-bedroom home built by
Chapter 14 | Canopy Through The Decades
KB Homes in the Chapel Grove community. She was one of 22 mortgage-ready Home Giveaway participants who completed a homeownership program through The Housing Partnership to qualify for the drawing. For a complete list of Home Giveaway winners, see page 107. The Housing Parternership's Ralphine Caldwell, (from left), 2007 Home Giveaway winner Joyce Patton and Association CEO Anne Marie Howard
Though the Home Giveaway was successful during its five-year run, it Photo : The Housing Partnership was suspended for 2008 to allow Foundation and Association leaders to study broader ways to affect homeownership. Eventually, after much consideration, the Foundation recommended replacing the Home Giveaway with Realtors® Care Day, a volunteer effort that would begin in 2009 and makes critical home repairs for homeowners in need. In the fall of 2007, the Foundation’s executive director, Rodney Tucker, announced he was leaving the position to take a job at the Department of Housing and Urban Development in Washington, D.C. In November, the Association named Terri Marshall, a seasoned fundraising executive with the CharlotteMecklenburg Arts & Science Council as Tucker’s successor. Foundation accomplishments in 2007 were notable. It revised the Affordable Housing Certificate Program to become the Workforce Housing Certificate Program. The Foundation also awarded more than $20,000 in grants, raised more than $300,000 toward its endowment fund and formalized its regional Habitat Support Program. The program, as of 2020, provides annual grants to Habitat chapters in Cabarrus, Haywood, Iredell, Lincoln, Mecklenburg (includes Habitat Matthews), Stanly and Union/Anson counties. In other ’07 highlights, the CRRA Board of Directors voted in October to begin using a range for square footage in CMLS, a change that would take effect the following year, in late March 2008. CMLS also added Centralized Showing Service in 2007 at no additional cost to subscribers and expanded CMLS Help Desk hours to include Saturdays. The board also supported the retention of a half-cent sales tax in Mecklenburg County to fund public mass transit. In November, voters passed a referendum to keep the tax. In 2008, CRRA began experiencing what some real estate markets across the country had been feeling for some time: a market slowdown. It was The Great Recession’s knock at the door — and the Association’s leadership budgeted for a decline in members and CMLS subscribers and cut back expenses. 75 | canopy100.com
But the Association’s work remained brisk. It included a Workforce Housing Fair through the Housing Opportunity Foundation, the fourth year of a Realtor® public awareness campaign and the 10th anniversary of the Leadership Development Program. In October 2008, CMLS joined the N.C. Data Share project, which allowed the sharing of IDX data feeds among MLSs in the state. The other five MLSs initially joining the group were the Asheville, Greensboro, Raleigh-Durham, Wilmington and Brunswick County areas. The data share project continued until November 2011, ending with the expiration of the project’s contract with WolfNet. Also in October 2008, the Association hosted the NCAR state convention at The Westin in uptown Charlotte. The October 5-8 event marked the first time the NCAR convention had been in Charlotte since 1995. Leading the state association as president at the time was Micki Fisher from Charlotte, who had been Association president in 1986. Since the state convention was last in Charlotte, the city had developed a lively uptown of restaurants, bars, nightclubs and arts venues and became home to about 11,000 residents. Prior to the blossoming of uptown, former Bank of America CEO Hugh McColl said of Tryon Street, “You could fire a shotgun down the street and not hit anything.” Harry Munson and President-Elect Donna Anderson chaired the local convention effort on behalf of the Association, which sponsored an opening reception that featured The Marshall Tucker Band, heavy hors d’oeuvres, desserts and drinks. Attendees received an original William Mangum print of Fourth Ward and heard keynote speaker Les Brown and his “Live Your Dreams” presentation.
Since the state convention was last in Charlotte, the city had developed a lively uptown of restaurants, bars, nightclubs and arts venues.
In contrast to the highly successful state convention, the picture of the housing market wasn’t rosy. In September and October of 2008, contracts reported in CMLS declined well over 30 percent from the same periods a year earlier. The tightening market put President Dot Munson in high demand for interviews in what she calls “a media frenzy.” The Association’s Grievance and Professional Standards committees also had more complaints to handle, not just from the public but from Realtors®. “When business gets more difficult, sometimes agents look for ways to differentiate themselves, and in doing so, violate the rules,” Munson explained in her parting Reflections column. “It’s good for us to police ourselves. The public is also more aware of the conduct and responsibilities that go along with being a Realtor®.”
Chapter 14 | Canopy Through The Decades
For 2008, the Association posted net decreases in Association membership (10 percent) and CMLS subscribers (12 percent). Those sober stats braced Association leadership for more declines in 2009 as the housing market continued to decline and Realtors® scrambled to find enough buyers and sellers to make a living. This is what President Donna Anderson and other board leaders faced as 2009 rolled in. Anderson encouraged members to seek opportunities and possibilities in the dismal market. Citing lyrics from Natasha Beddingfield’s song “Unwritten,” Anderson urged members to compose new chapters in their lives. The song begins: “I am unwritten, can’t read my mind, I’m undefined, I’m just beginning, the pen’s in my hand, ending unplanned….”
Donna Anderson President, 2009
Preparing for 20 percent drops in both Association members and CMLS subscribers in 2009, the Association did more belttightening.
CMLS delayed a new MLS system (Tempo 5) for a year, went to only one online tax service provider (Realist) and adopted paperless orientation classes. CRRA instituted hiring and salary freezes, canceled the Realtor® EXPO and changed the 2010 strategic planning session to a nontravel “think tank” meeting in Charlotte. The Association also put on educational sessions for members on foreclosures and short sales. Still, there were bright spots. In 2009, The Mecklenburg Times named CEO Anne Marie Howard one of Charlotte’s “50 Most Influential Women"; the Association continued to fight land transfer taxes and impact fees and promote RPAC; and the Housing Opportunity Foundation launched its community grants program. The annual Candidate Fish Fry attracted more than 700 attendees, most of them Realtors® happy for fun and commiseration with fellow agents during the tough market. Also in 2009, Mingle School began its own standalone website, which gave the school more control over the site’s functionality. One of the school’s longtime instructors, Dana Rhodes, was named Educator of the Year by the N.C. Real Estate Educators Association. He also won the N.C. Real Estate Commission’s Billie J. Mercer Excellence in Education Award. The biggest bright spot in 2009 proved to be the Housing Opportunity Foundation’s new initiative, Realtors® Care Day. It debuted in April during the 40th anniversary of National Fair Housing Month and drew approximately 650 Realtor® members. They fanned out over the Association’s
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regional footprint to make critical home repairs for deserving homeowners in need. Explaining the rationale behind Realtors® Care Day, Joe Rempson said: “The goal is to help homeowners stay in their homes by making repairs and doing other projects that might otherwise force them to move or live in conditions that are substandard or inadequate, such as not having a handicap ramp.” The idea for the volunteer event had come from Rempson, a Housing Opportunity Foundation board member and future president (2014). He had done a similar project through his church and was part of the leadership group considering how the Foundation could make a greater community impact. When Rempson mentioned the idea, Foundation Committee chair Sandy Larsh, a former Association president (1999), remembers the immediate reaction. “I have never seen the lights go on in people’s eyes like that … it lit up the whole room,” she said.
Chapter 14 | Canopy Through The Decades
Foundation Executive Director Terri Marshall saw the committee’s excitement and the power of the concept. “We looked at a lot of ideas, and this is the one that we kept coming back to — there was so much passion about it,” she said. “It also fit with our goals of the Foundation — funding, advocacy, education and leadership.” Rempson chaired the first Realtors® Care Day Core Committee, overseeing (along with Marshall) 12 area captains, 24 site captains, 25 licensed contractors, 25 licensed home inspectors and more than 33 sponsors and nearly 60 in-kind donors. “This is the largest initiative the Association has ever undertaken,” CEO Anne Marie Howard said at the time. “To say I am proud of the Realtor® community is an understatement. The goodwill that was generated, the connections that were made and the impact for these families have been tremendous. I am so proud that the Realtors® showed the community what leadership is about.” The next year, 2010, Lyn Kessie became president of an Association still knee-deep in the recession. The hard reality of a depressed housing market showed big drops in closings and total sales volume in CMLS from 2007 to 2009. Closings dropped 43 percent (39,983 in ’07 to 22,861 in ’09) and total sales volume fell by 51 percent ($9.64 billion to $4.50 billion). By the fall of 2010, the Association’s membership was down 35 percent from its peak in 2007. More cost-cutting measures followed. After eliminating four staff positions in the last half of 2009, the Association beefed up staff cross-training and remote computer capabilities and made production Lyn Kessie President, 2010 cuts to its award-winning monthly magazine, Realtor® Reflections. In January 2010, the magazine went from monthly to bimonthly publication. And with the July/August issue, the periodical became a digital compendium of stories, no longer a magazine-style publication. “Tough times are not over, but we now know we can ride it out with skill, care, diligence and with everything we’ve got,” Kessie said in reference to the trying period. She emphasized what she called the “5 C’s” — communication, collaboration, cooperation, courtesies and compassion. Despite the recession, the Association notched major achievements in 2010. Mostly notably, CMLS rolled out TEMPO 5, marking the first major update to the MLS system since TEMPO was first installed in 2003. The update, though delayed a year because of the recession, was possible because money had been budgeted for it prior to the downturn. 77 | canopy100.com
Also in 2010, the Association began a local chapter of NAR’s Young Professionals Network (YPN), which targets new Realtors® but is open to anyone in the Association as a free networking and idea-sharing group. With Sarah Szczodrowski as its first chair, YPN kicked off with an event at NIX Burger & Brew in uptown Charlotte in March 2010 and has been going strong ever since. Other 2010 programming highlights included the return of the Realtor® EXPO which, after a one-year hiatus because of the recession, attracted approximately 950 agents, nearly 100 exhibitors and 10 major sponsors to The Blake Hotel on March 11. Mingle School celebrated instructor Gary Taylor, who received the Emeritus Award at the N.C. Real Estate Commission’s 2010 Spring Educators Conference. “Gary has been teaching at Mingle School since 1986 and has been an inspiration to many instructors and students,” Mingle Director Karyn Lindsey noted at the time. “He has been a strong leader and helped shape real estate education in the state.” Further in 2010, the Association’s long-running Speaker Series got a new name — Realtor® Hot Topic (RHT) — and Charlotte’s newly elected mayor, Anthony Foxx, was RHT’s first presenter on March 24. About a month later on April 23, Foxx attended the second annual Realtors® Care Day, which again attracted more than 600 Realtor® volunteers as well as 100 sponsors — and national attention, to boot. Realtors® Care Day was recognized by NAR and the U.S. Conference of Mayors. The organizations gave CRRA an Ambassadors for Cities Award for its partnership with the City of Charlotte on the project. The award came with $5,000 — which went back into the Realtors® Care Day program — and marked the first time a Realtor® association had won the Ambassadors for Cities Award for a second time. The Association received the honor the first time in 2005 for its partnership with the city on the Home Giveaway. The Diversity Council also made changes in 2010. Instead of using “sub-councils” to describe its operating groups, the Association changed them to “advisory groups” — as in the African American Advisory Group, the Latin American Advisory Group and Asian American Advisory Group. Collectively, the advisory groups had approximately 500 members in 2010 and a full agenda of work. Highlights were doing community outreach at Legislative Day and the Workforce Housing Fair, hosting networking events, conducting two free sessions of NAR’s At Home with Diversity course and providing ideas and recommendations to the Nominating Committee related to elections and candidates. The advisory groups also awarded five scholarships to attend the Association’s Leadership Development Program. (In 2012, the leadership program’s name changed to the Leadership Academy.)
Chapter 14 | Canopy Through The Decades
Realtors® Care Day was recognized by NAR and the U.S. Conference of Mayors. The organizations gave the Association an Ambassadors for Cities Award in 2010.
When Laurie Knudsen became president in 2011, there were signs the recession was ending. The Association wasn’t losing as many members as it had projected, but the organization remained hunkered down while still serving members.
In keeping with the improving market, Knudsen emphasized the Association’s focus on a “Realtor® Rebound,” explaining it this way: “Beginning in 2008, our industry had what I like to call a ‘Thelma and Louise’ moment. Just like the women in the movie, we went off a big cliff. We survived, but were standing there like deer in the headlights, with no way to predict what was going to happen next. I believe we will continue to rebound if we do three things: Rethink, Retool and Recover.” “Rethink” meant continuing to put everything the Association does on the table for review and possible changes. “Retool” addressed maintaining the technology, staff and facility resources members needed, while “Recover” focused on the possibility of welcoming back agents who had left real estate during the recession and encouraging new college graduates to consider the profession.
Laurie Knudsen President, 2011
Among Association services, the Diversity Council continued to build on its work; CMLS provided new and upgraded tools and reports; and Realtors® Care Day was another big success. Lowe’s Home Improvement took a large role supplying materials for the event’s home repair projects, and the Association staff raised $3,000 through a pie-throwing event to support the effort.
CMLS began offering an array of market reports to subscribers at no additional cost — including a Monthly Indicators Report, Local Market Update, Lender-Mediated Report (foreclosures) and “The Thing,” an interactive market analytics tool (later called “SAM”) for custom documents. CMLS also upgraded the Realist tax system, added an automated valuation tool for consumers called ValueMaps and set in place plans for “browser independence” to come in 2012, allowing subscribers to use Safari, Firefox, Internet Explorer and other browsers with the MLS system. 78 | canopy100.com
Other 2011 happenings featured the highly successful annual events of the Candidate Fish Fry and Realtor® trips to Raleigh and Washington to lobby elected officials on industry concerns. Also, Tony Smith and Tommy Lawing Jr., both former presidents, entered the NAR RPAC Hall of Fame in 2010 and 2011, respectively, They were eligible based on the $25,000 or more each of them contributed to the political action committee over their careers. They joined Charlotte developer Allen Tate (2004) already in the prestigious hall. Later, Association members Bill Gallagher and Valerie Mitchener would also enter the NAR RPAC Hall of Fame in 2013 and 2018, respectively. Meanwhile in 2011, Tommy Lawing Jr. and Cindy Chandler were appointed to the N.C. Real Estate Commission. Both had served as presidents of NCAR, Lawing in 1999 and Chandler in 2006. Locally, Lawing had also been Association president in 1993 and Chandler was a distinguished teacher in the Mingle School of Real Estate and a six-year member of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Planning Commission. Iredell Realtor® Ginger Dowdle won the Housing Opportunity Foundation’s 2011 Humanitarian Award for her work serving at-risk children, both as a foster parent and as a summer day camp operator. Based on these efforts, Dowdle became the first Association member to win the NAR Good Neighbor Award. She and four other recipients were honored on Nov. 10, 2012, at the NAR Realtors® Conference & Expo in Orlando, Fla. Meanwhile, the other major activity of 2011 dealt with the more than 5 acres the Association had assembled near its headquarters in the Midtown area of Charlotte. As part of the acreage, the Association demolished the office building it owned at the corner of Greenwood Cliff and Kenilworth Avenue to make the land more visible and marketable. It also gave the City of Charlotte a small amount of land in exchange for significant road improvements on Kenilworth (a turn lane, at last!) and into the Association’s property. The city also added a traffic light at Kenilworth and Pearl Street Way. These changes set the stage for a task force to be formed in 2012 to study whether the Association would build its long anticipated new headquarters on the land it owned in Midtown or sell the land and move to another location. The task force examining the headquarters question was but one of the significant realities facing the Association when Jennifer Frontera became president in 2012. She used the creative approach of “Be Water” to support the Association’s priority on helping members deal with the sluggish real estate
Chapter 14 | Canopy Through The Decades
market, as well as continued technological growth in the real estate profession. “It’s about embracing change,” she said of the focus. “Water is flexible and finds its way. It adjusts to things around it, but can be firm and powerful.” Early in 2012, CMLS rolled out Fusion to replace Tempo but kept Tempo going for those who preferred it. Fusion featured the MLS’s first mobile connectivity Jennifer Frontera and had compatibility with not President, 2012 only PCs but Apple computers. CMLS also added more online tools, such as RPR and FIND, and announced the addition of RatePlug for 2013. In late October 2012, CMLS began referring to itself as CarolinaMLS, a new shorthand for its full name of Carolina Multiple Listing Services. The change was made to end confusion with the Council of MLS’s acronym, also known as CMLS, and to emphasize that CarolinaMLS served counties in both North and South Carolina. Despite the improving economy, the Association continued to keep costs down. Two main ways were combining the annual installation ceremony with the Realtor® EXPO, both held on Feb. 28, and applying for NAR and NCAR grants to fund activities. The Association received $61,000 from the two Realtor® groups, money that went for everything from Housing Opportunity Foundation activities to forums and educational programs. Working with other regional Realtor® organizations, Government Affairs Director Elizabeth Barnhart spearheaded a grant initiative to fund 10 digital billboards promoting Realtors® and homeownership, to be displayed when the Democratic Party held its national convention in Charlotte in August 2012. The regional group of Realtor® organizations won a $25,000 NAR Game Changer grant and a $25,000 grant from the NCAR Issues Mobilization Fund. The Foundation’s Realtors® Care Day continued to receive attention outside the area. The New Jersey Association of Realtors® licensed the concept to hold a similar effort involving its associations. In Charlotte, the Association held its fourth annual Realtors® Care Day on April 20, organizing more than 500 members to help 23 regional homeowners with critical home projects. In the previous three years, the event had cumulatively aided 87 families for an overall financial impact of $500,000. The Foundation also increased its annual community grants program to $15,000 in 2012, awarding $1,000 to $2,500 grants to seven housing nonprofits. Prior to 2012, the overall grant amount had been $10,000 each year. The Foundation also 79 | canopy100.com
maintained its donations to regional Habitat for Humanity chapters, giving $13,500 in 2012. In June, the Foundation held a “Week of Awareness” to highlight its programs and services and to deliver more than 1,100 snack bags to homeless children at summer camp sponsored by A Child’s Place. In sad news during 2012, the first executive officer of the Association and the namesake of its real estate school for many years, Vane Mingle, died on May 12 at age 91. He served as executive officer from 1957 through 1960 and introduced several innovations for the time (see the end of Chapter 4). Later, he and his wife, “Mike,” founded the Mingle School of Real Estate in March 1972. The school became respected in the state for Realtor® education and still is today. When the Association began its annual rookie of the year award in 1988, it named the honor the Vane Mingle Award. In 1993, the Association purchased the Mingle School of Estate, whose name changed to Canopy Real Estate Institute in 2019.
Chapter 15 | Canopy Through The Decades
BUILDING THE REALTOR NAME ®
MLS shifts to Matrix, Association stays in Midtown When Eric Locher took over as president in 2013, the impact of the recession continued to dissipate. For the second straight year, home sales and prices rose substantially. From the end of 2012 to the end of 2013, closed sales jumped 24.6 percent, from 27,660 to 34,468 transactions. For the same period, the median home price increased from $160,000 to $172,000, and the average sales price went from $208,678 to $222,207. The big concern in the market was a decline in sales inventory. Understandably, the number of homes available fell dramatically during the heart of the recession from 2009 through 2011, but listings continued to slip in 2012 and 2013 as well. Only 13,918 homes were on the market at the end of 2013, a drop of 7.5 percent compared to 2012. But the positives of the market began to bring more Realtors® into the Association and CarolinaMLS. By Sept. 26, 2013, Association membership was up 5.83 percent to 6,921 members, and CarolinaMLS subscribers and member participants grew by the same percentage, representing 7,752 individuals. From a programming standpoint, Realtors® Care Day celebrated its fifth year by doing a special project to aid Barium Springs, an Iredell County organization that assists children in need. The project focused on interior and exterior improvements to three residential buildings built on the Barium Springs campus in the 1960s. The highest priority was replacing lighting original to the structures. “It’s dim, and not a happy, pleasant feeling in those buildings,” said Jill Gibson, then the regional development manager for Barium Springs, now known as Children’s Hope Alliance. Thanks to Realtors® Care Day, Hubbell Lighting donated lighting and electricians donated their services to install the new fixtures. 80 | canopy100.com
Also in 2013, the CarolinaMLS Board of Directors made two big decisions in the summer that would take effect in 2014: shifting the MLS system from Fusion to Matrix and returning square footage of listings to a number, instead of using a range. Fusion, adopted in early 2012, never caught on with most subscribers, who continued to use the Tempo system. In light of that, and to position Eric Locher President, 2013 the MLS for possible expansion, the leadership selected a new program called Matrix. “It will be a mature system that many of the largest MLS systems in the country have been using,” CEO Anne Marie Howard wrote in an Executive Report at the time. “It offers full mobile capability — including the Add/ Edit function — and is a flexible platform that will easily accommodate the growth of CarolinaMLS, both within our current footprint and an expanded one,” she explained. “We could easily add the MLS function of other, likely smaller, associations that no longer want to run their own MLS or see the benefits of economies of scale.” Also in 2013, returning square footage to a single number within CarolinaMLS became desirable for two reasons. It’s a more broadly accepted way of representing the size of a home among MLSs, and the anticipated growth of CarolinaMLS in the years ahead. Further, a disagreement about a property’s square footage can be sorted out during the due diligence phase of the contract, a phase added since CarolinaMLS began using square footage as a range on March 27, 2008.
Chapter 15 | Canopy Through The Decades
When Matrix rolled out in early 2014, President Joe Rempson called it “the smoothest transition we’ve had since we stopped printing MLS books in the late 1990s.”
Other significant changes that would come with the Matrix system featured the elimination of Areas and Subareas as the MLS’s organizational principle, something leadership viewed as arbitrary, and the flexibility of the system to allow the MLS to make changes over time. When CarolinaMLS rolled out Matrix in early 2014, President Joe Rempson called it “the smoothest transition we’ve had since we stopped printing MLS books in the late 1990s.” He also pointed out how easy Matrix was to use as well as its compatibility with most mobile devices, tablets and computers, including most internet browsers.
Around the middle of 2014, CarolinaMLS brought together more than a hundred of its subscribers and member participants to learn about internet portals and their desire to obtain listing information from CarolinaMLS. Participants at the Listing Syndication Joe Rempson Workshop heard from their President, 2014 own leaders as well as from ones representing MLSs around the state and country. Representatives from internet syndicators Zillow and Trulia spoke to the group as well. Strong views voiced at the workshop, plus feedback from CarolinaMLS users after the program, showed no consensus on “next steps.” But the Association did take a big step toward its new headquarters in 2014. The Greenwood Cliff Task Force recommended the Association stay in Midtown and build a new headquarters on land it owned near its present building. The CRRA Board of Directors agreed, voting for the recommendation in June. About six months later, on Dec. 1, the Association publicly posted a Request for Proposal for its new headquarters as part of a redevelopment project involving the 5.2 acres owned by the Association. The Association would own its new building and parking deck, and the land the structures are on, while the rest of the land the Association had acquired over the years would be sold to the developer selected for the headquarters project to use for the rest of the development. The Association’s decision to stay in Midtown made sense from several perspectives. “A lot of why the recommendation 81 | canopy100.com
was made was the convenience of our members — from the northern region to Ballantyne and to the east and west,” said Rempson, who chaired the Greenwood Cliff Task Force prior to becoming president in 2014. “It was the best spot for members to get in and out of.” The economics also worked. “When we looked at other properties to buy, we would be paying a good bit,” he continued. Selling land around the new headquarters and having the new building constructed as part of a bigger redevelopment allowed the Association to have 85 percent equity in the building and parking deck right from the start. “We didn’t want significant debt,” Rempson said. “The goal was to provide the Association a showpiece with minimal debt and to give a positive image to the community — I believe we did that,” he added, noting the high visibility of the headquarters in a popular area of the city. The following year, 2015, proved to be a year of many Association milestones — ranging from raising a record RPAC amount and expanding CarolinaMLS to selecting a developer for the new headquarters and nearby land. The Association chose a local developer known for his pioneering work in revitalizing Midtown in the mid 2000s, Peter Pappas. In a public-private partnership with the city, Pappas redeveloped the old Charlottetown Mall site into the Metropolitan, which opened in 2008 as a mixed-use development. Meanwhile, boosting donations to RPAC was a top priority for 2015 President Maren Brisson-Kuester. She and Past President Joe Rempson traveled to sales offices throughout the region to make pitches. Together, they organized phone banks and a major investor event as well. These and other efforts produced a local record of $103,234 for RPAC in 2015. “This shows our message of how politics on the local, state and national levels affects our profession is getting out more and more in Charlotte,” Brisson-Kuester wrote in one of her President’s Letters that year. Another point of pride for Brisson-Kuester in 2015 was the Realtor® Value Advocacy Campaign, funded by the Association and promoting the consumer benefit of using a Realtor® in home transactions. “We cut back on things like this in the lean years, but now is the time to push forward and express Realtor® value and the necessity of our services,” she said. Ads in the $100,000 campaign aired on local television, YouTube, Netflix and Hulu; on message boards at the EpiCentre uptown; and in the print publications of Creative Loafing newspaper and Pride magazine. CarolinaMLS also received a lot of attention in 2015 when its board of directors signed a wholesale vendor contract with the North Carolina Mountains MLS (NCMMLS), which covers Asheville, Brevard, Hendersonville, Waynesville and other western North Carolina areas. The contract was the result of a year of talks between CarolinaMLS and NCMMLS. As part of the agreement, CarolinaMLS users gained the ability to access
Chapter 15 | Canopy Through The Decades
NCMMLS listings at no extra cost or fee. “Through hiring us to be their MLS vendor, NCMMLS is taking advantage of our size and buying power with CoreLogic, which provides our Matrix MLS system and will soon provide theirs as well,” CEO Anne Marie DeCatsye said when the agreement was announced. NCMMLS Maren Brisson-Kuester went on to have such a good President, 2015, 2016 experience with CarolinaMLS that in late 2017 it sold its assets and merged into CarolinaMLS. (Note: Through marriage in 2014, Anne Marie Howard’s last name changed to DeCatsye.) Another MLS activity that affected virtually every user in 2015 was the upgrading of Supra lockboxes. The CarolinaMLS Board of Directors gave all agents and firms the opportunity for a one-to-one swap of old boxes to new boxes at no cost during August 3-7 at the Park Expo and Conference Center in east Charlotte. An impressive 30,000 boxes were exchanged during the five-day period. Other 2015 highlights included longtime Mingle School of Real Estate instructor Cindy Chandler becoming chair of the N.C. Real Estate Commission on August 1 and the Housing Opportunity Foundation continuing to make a growing impact as it celebrated its 30th anniversary. In addition to another successful Realtors® Care Day — 28 sites, approximately 700 Realtor® volunteers — the Foundation gave $30,000 in community grants, a 66 percent increase over 2014. The Foundation also granted $18,500 to eight regional Habitat for Humanity chapters, a 37 percent increase over the previous year. On a somber note, the Association and broader community mourned the deaths of two Charlotte real estate icons, Allen Tate and John Crosland Jr., who died about six weeks apart. Tate, 84, died on June 22, while Crosland, 86, passed away August 1. Both were industry and community leaders from early in their real estate careers starting in the 1950s, and part of a generation of leaders that built Charlotte from a town to a bustling city. Tate and Crosland were key leaders in the “Joint Committee” of Realtors® and Builders for about 10 years prior to their founding the local real estate industry’s political lobbying group, the Real Estate Building & Industry Coalition. During that late 1970s/early 1980s era, Tate owned the region’s largest residential real estate firm and Crosland was the largest local homebuilder. Crosland was also a founder of Charlotte’s Habitat for Humanity chapter in the 1980s and served as its president for many years.
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As 2016 began, the big Charlotte real estate story was the region’s hot housing market. Many economists pegged the market as one of the hottest in the nation, not only with millennial and Generation X buyers but overall. “The number one reason: jobs, jobs, jobs,” Maren Brisson-Kuester wrote in Realtor® Reflections. She had continued into a second year of the presidency after the president-elect stepped down in 2015. The robust local economy attracted companies and workers, but the real estate market continued to have a low inventory of homes for sale. Reflecting this reality was the “Coming Soon” status approved by the CarolinaMLS Board of Directors in late August 2016 for implementation in early 2017. It formalized what had been going on for some time as agents shared off-market information among themselves about future listings. “Coming Soon” officially gave these properties being readied for sale, and not ready for showing, their own status in the MLS. Brisson-Kuester noted the importance of the Coming Soon status. “It deals with better serving our clients, reducing our liability as brokers and keeping CarolinaMLS the essential listing source that it is,” she said. “In our low-inventory market, some agents have been labeling properties ‘Coming Soon’ and spreading news of them within their firm and to other brokers they know. Makes perfect sense — except that limiting knowledge of those Coming Soon properties to only a few brokers opens the listing broker up to liability. Not exposing properties to the MLS marketplace means sellers may not get the best price or deal.” Other prominent story lines from 2016 were the Realtor® Value Campaign, another RPAC record and two new programs at the Housing Opportunity Foundation. The Foundation also established its own board of directors for the first time and it included community members, not just Realtors®. The Foundation continued its grants programs, Realtor® Care Day and other activities. It also began two events that are now part of its yearly calendar — the Strides for Shelter 5K Run/ Walk and Project R.E.A.C.H. The Strides for Shelter 5K Run/Walk debuted in 2016 as one of few local events and the only 5K to benefit housing causes. The first event was on a Saturday afternoon in June, drawing participants from around the region to McAlpine Greenway Park in Charlotte. The event has been held there since, and shifting to a morning time slot in the second year. Project R.E.A.C.H. — which stands for “Realtors® Engaging and Creating Hope” — kicked off in June. Overseen by the Foundation’s Fair and Affordable Housing Advisory Group, Project R.E.A.C.H. provided Realtor® volunteers hands-on community service projects at a limited number of local nonprofits. With the Realtor® Value Advocacy Campaign, the CRRA Board of Directors nearly doubled the campaign budget in 2016 after
Chapter Chapter 15 15 | Building | Canopy theThrough Realtor® The Name Decades
the campaign’s positive impact the year before. The amount grew from $100,000 in 2015 to $175,000 in 2016. RPAC, meanwhile, reached a level not seen in recent decades, or perhaps ever, in Charlotte. The Association reached the goal set by RPAC for fundraising based on CRRA’s membership. The Association raised $127,375, topping an outstanding figure from the year before and delighting President Maren BrissonKuester. “I’m extremely proud of that,” she said.
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Chapter 16 | Canopy Through The Decades
New Name. New Place. New Challenges. MLS Footprint grows, Association adopts Canopy name In 2017, Roger Parham made local headlines when he became the first African American president of the Association and CarolinaMLS. The Nominating Committee had urged a reluctant Parham to run for the post, and fellow Realtor® Allen Dargins shared thoughts that resonated with Parham as he considered it. “‘It’s not about you; it’s about more than you,’ Allen said. He used my own words, what I say about serving others.”
There were three major areas of growth in 2017: CarolinaMLS, RPAC and the Housing Opportunity Foundation. The Association also closed on the first phase of headquarters development with Pappas Properties, and land clearing began. After contracting with CarolinaMLS to serve as its MLS vendor in 2015, North Carolina Mountains MLS voted to merge with CarolinaMLS, a change that would take place in early 2018. The merger boosted CarolinaMLS membership by 35 percent to more than 15,500 subscribers. Also in early 2018, the MLS in Catawba Valley (Hickory and Lenoir areas) would begin a wholesale vendor relationship and eventually consolidate into CarolinaMLS on Aug. 31, 2020.
Parham brought a broad base of Association experience to the presidency. Roger Parham President, 2017 He served on the Grievance Committee, graduated from the Association’s Leadership Academy and led the inaugural Diversity Council. He also served as Association treasurer for two years and as an NCAR and NAR board member.
Such consolidation had begun nationally several years earlier as small MLSs began seeking out larger ones based on the cost of technology of MLS systems and the need to stay current with tools and products. Consolidation also reduced the number of MLSs to which some users needed to subscribe to for their business. CarolinaMLS, being the largest MLS in the Carolinas and known for its MLS leadership nationally, was well positioned to handle growth. For more on the growth of Canopy MLS, see a sidebar on page 90.
“I’m simply honored to be the first person of color to lead this great Association,” he said. “I am overwhelmed at the message my leadership sends to the larger community about how much the Association values complete inclusiveness for all who have earned the right to serve.”
Also in 2017, RPAC set another local record for annual fundraising and broke one for the state as well. Realtors® in the Association raised $175,061, the largest total ever for a Realtor® association or region in North Carolina. Maren Brisson-Kuester, who had been a strong RPAC advocate as
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Chapter 16 | Canopy Through The Decades
2015 and 2016 Association president, continued in that advocacy role as the Region 8 RPAC Trustee in 2017. The Housing Opportunity Foundation’s banner year in 2017 ranged from its grants programs and Realtors® Care Day to successful outings for two events in their second year, Project R.E.A.C.H. and the Strides for Shelter 5K. The Foundation awarded $61,500 in community grants to 17 nonprofits and to seven area Habitat for Humanity chapters, and Realtors® Care Day assisted 26 homeowners in its ninth year. Project R.E.A.C.H. provided 75 Realtors® for a day of hands-on volunteering with local nonprofits. Strides for Shelter 5K attracted nearly 450 runners and walkers who raised $15,108 for A Child’s Place, which assists children and families affected by homelessness. The leadership diversity thread continued in 2018 when Jason Gentry became president. He became the first “out” LGBTQ+ president and, at 35 years old, one of the youngest. But little was made of these milestones as Gentry and the rest of the leadership jumped into a lengthy list of key activities for the year: more MLS consolidation and technology growth, Jason Gentry President, 2018 rebranding research, construction beginning on the headquarters, Mingle School growth and the Realtor® advocacy campaign. There was also sponsorship of a new regional housing study and Foundation highlights that included the 10th year of Realtors® Care Day. Not surprisingly, Gentry noted in a President’s Letter late in the year: “2018 flew by.” MLS consolidation continued as CarolinaMLS became the MLS wholesale vendor for Catawba Valley. New technology tools became available in Matrix in the first quarter of the year. Remine allowed agents to see what properties may be good listing prospects, while the Broker Public Portal offered a public-facing website in competition with other national portals. On March 21, 2018, the Association held a groundbreaking ceremony that drew more than 100 members, past and present Association leaders and elected officials on the second day of spring, a rainy Wednesday. “Though it’s a dreary day, this is so exciting … this new development is going to be outstanding for the area,” said Charlotte-Mecklenburg County Commissioner Pat Cotham. “To me, the sun is shining and there is no mud.”
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Another Charlotte City Council member, whose district includes the property, shared Cotham’s praise for building. “The Charlotte Regional Realtor® Association and its new office will be an amazing addition to the area,” said Larken Egleston, District 1 representative on the Charlotte City Council. Former CarolinaMLS and CRRA board member Robert Dulin watched the festivities and lauded the project. “I’m excited because the new headquarters is going to raise the profile of the Association,” he said. “I’m also excited because the Association is in good financial shape for the future, and I’m excited because we’re going to shake off this rickety, leaking building we have and serve our growing membership better.”
On March 21, 2018, the Association held a headquarters groundbreaking ceremony that drew more than 100 members.
The Association continued to be housed in its old building while the new building rose from a large plot directly beside the old site. The juxtaposition gave members and staff a bird’s-eye view of the construction, and day-today services for members were maintained as parking lots, sidewalks and other areas were altered and configured to accommodate both member access and construction. Several months after the groundbreaking for the new building, the Association began work with the Mower agency on branding research to better understand how members and the public viewed the Association and its entities — CarolinaMLS, the Mingle School of Real Estate and the Housing Opportunity Foundation. “We thought opening the new building represented the perfect time to look at our brand,” said Vice President Kim McMillan, who heads marketing and communications for the Association. Mower conducted online surveys with members and interviews with Association leaders, members, staff and others. The firm also held meetings to present findings and gain feedback. A key finding of member surveys was about half of respondents didn’t understand the relationship among the Association-owned entities. Therefore, pursuit of a unifying name became part of the branding research. As the branding work continued in 2018, Mingle School was having a strong year. It experienced growth in continuing education, prelicensing and postlicensing classes. Notably, more than 8,000 people took licensing and CE classes in the first six months of the year, resulting in an increase in those classes of about 12 percent compared to 2017. Also in 2018, the Association again sponsored a Realtor® advocacy campaign in the media, promoting to consumers
Chapter 16 | Canopy Through The Decades
the value of using a Realtor®. The “Realtors® Play Many Roles” campaign ran from March through October and promoted the Realtor® Code of Ethics requirement and the critical roles Realtors® play to ensure smooth transactions. Media exposure through the campaign included Facebook, other websites and digital mobile ads; television spots on WSOC-TV, WBTV and Bounce TV; digital billboards; and print ads in Charlotte Magazine, The Charlotte Post and La Noticia. Another project that received media coverage was a study of the Charlotte regional housing market that CRRA and nine other sponsors launched in 2018 in conjunction with the Childress Klein Center for Real Estate at UNC Charlotte. The Association agreed to supply CarolinaMLS data as part of the information to be used in the study, which planned five annual reports starting in 2019. The nine organizations that joined the Association in underwriting the project were: NAR, Charlotte Center City Partners, Charlotte Housing Authority (now Inlivian), Crosland Southeast, Evergreen Strategies, Foundation For The Carolinas, Moore & Van Allen law firm, Piedmont Public Policy Institute and True Homes Inc. The other big headline in 2018 was the Housing Opportunity Foundation’s 10th annual Realtors® Care Day. Approximately 700 Realtors® turned out to work on 26 homes in the region on April 20. Food drives held in conjunction with the event collected more than two tons of food for the Mooresville Soup Kitchen and The Harvest Center in Charlotte. Among other Foundation programs, nearly 500 runners participated in the third annual Strides for Shelter 5K, raising $20,555 for the Men’s Shelter of Charlotte. Project R.E.A.C.H., also in its third year, provided 125 Realtors® to assist five nonprofits — Friendship Trays, Refugee Support Services, Ronald McDonald House, Matthews Help Center and Veterans Bridge Home. The Foundation also donated $500 to each of the participating agencies. Helping meet the region’s housing needs, the Foundation gave $65,000 through its two grant programs to 15 community nonprofits and eight area Habitat for Humanity chapters. “In the year 2018, the community benefited from the strategic work done within the Foundation over the past several years,” said Foundation Executive Director Terri Marshall. “Many programs not only reached their established goals but exceeded the expectations. Under the leadership and direction of the Realtor® members, our grants continue to address basic unmet housing needs in the community — those often overlooked by other funding groups.” In 2019, Brenda Hayden took over as Association president. To get an idea of what kind of year it was, listen to how she described it at the end. “I’m not sure in our nearly 100-year history — we will hit the century mark in 2021! — that we’ve expanded our profile in
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the community, our member services and facilities and our geographic footprint as much as we have in 2019 — certainly not collectively all in one year. “Of course,” she added, “most of the accomplishments were set in motion in prior years; I was just the lucky president in the front seat of the roller coaster we call 2019: new headquarters, new branding, Foundation growth and membership expansion with both the Association and MLS.” And those big happenings weren’t everything of note. There was a presentation of Brenda Hayden the first “State of Housing in President, 2018 Charlotte” report (see sidebar on p. 87), migration of MLS data feeds to the MLS Grid, another outstanding year for the Housing Opportunity Foundation and creation of the LGBTQ Advisory Group as part of the Diversity Council. The new advisory group kicked off on June 19 with a networking event at Camp North End, an area just north of uptown Charlotte that is transforming from an old industrial area to a retail and services center. Hayden also made history as the first African American woman to lead the Association, Foundation and MLS. In a feature in Charlotte Pride magazine, she said, “If anything, I hope me being in this seat will help those who come after me.” As previously noted, Hayden was president in a pivotal year for the Association. Not only did the organization open a new headquarters, but it also introduced a new name and tagline. Though the Association would retain Charlotte Regional Realtor® Association as its legal name, it sought a name to “do business as” that unified its entities. After thorough rebranding research in 2018 and 2019, the leadership of the Association, CarolinaMLS and Housing Opportunity Foundation chose “Canopy” as its new, umbrella brand. The entities became: Canopy Realtor® Association, Canopy MLS, Canopy Real Estate Institute and Canopy Housing Foundation. When the entities’ logos were introduced, they all featured symbols of a door and a rooftop as part of the “n” in “Canopy.” The symbols represented homeownership and the real estate profession. Also tying into homeownership and the profession was the Association’s new tagline, “Opportunity Resides Here.” The Canopy name tapped into community pride in the Charlotte region’s tree cover and provided a nongeographic name for an expanding MLS. The name also symbolized critical roles the Association plays in serving Realtors.®
Chapter 16 | Canopy Through The Decades
‘State of Housing’ Report Debuts When UNC Charlotte released its first housing report on February 21, 2019, people packed the auditorium at UNC Charlotte Center City to hear Dr. Richard Buttimer, director of the university’s Childress Klein Center for Real Estate, present a regional data analysis called “The State of Housing in Charlotte.” The event drew Realtors®, builders and other real estate professionals, as well as planners, elected officials and media. Sponsored by Canopy Realtor® Association and nine other organizations (see main story for list), the report is the first of five planned annual reports by the Childress Klein Center for Real Estate, part of Belk College of Business. The Association’s subsidiary, Canopy MLS, is playing a key role in the project by supplying its market data to the researchers. The Charlotte region is doing a good job housing residents generally, Buttimer told the crowd in 2019, but the data showed significant challenges in the market. They ranged from rapidly rising land prices and population growth outpacing new housing units to dramatically higher prices for owner-occupied housing, especially at the low end of the market. The region’s “historically low cost of living, especially with housing, is at risk,” Buttimer said. “It is threatened because the population is growing faster than the housing stock. That contributes to prices going up and housing stock being constrained.” He then detailed owner-occupied, rental and low-income housing stock. Especially troubling was the leap in rental rates. “Among all renters, 45 percent or so are cost burdened,” Buttimer said. The report showed that in 2010 most rents were between $400 and $800 per month in the region. By 2017, that range had risen dramatically to $800 to $1,500, with nearly one in five (18 percent ) in the $1,000 to $1,249 range. In contrast, less than 10 percent of rents were in the $1,000 to $1,249 range in 2010. On October 30, 2020, UNC Charlotte presented its second housing report in an all-virtual event because of the coronavirus pandemic. Generally, the real estate market trends highlighted were similar to those from the previous year. Dr. Yongqiang Chu, the new director of the Childress Klein Center for Real Estate, shared the report. Since the beginning of the annual reports, Canopy MLS data has been vital. "The report would not have been possible without the detailed data provided by Canopy," Chu said. 87 | canopy100.com
“Just as a canopy provides coverage and protection, we’re the professional trade association focused on providing the ‘coverage and protection’ our members need to succeed,” CEO Anne Marie DeCatsye said. “That means delivering the optimum services, resources, technology, education and professional development, in addition to advocating on behalf of homeowners and the real estate profession.” The new headquarters was largely finished in the summer of 2019, and the Association moved its staff into the building on July 15 and then held an official ribbon-cutting ceremony and building dedication on September 26, attended by elected officials and business and civic leaders. Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles was on hand to help dedicate the building. In her remarks, she talked about how Realtors® are an essential part of the community and play an outstanding role in promoting homeownership. The building, built by Myers & Chapman and certified at the Silver Level by LEED, opened onto Pearl Street Park and featured a 210-vehicle, attached parking deck. When the Association moved in, it occupied three of the four floors and leased most of the fourth floor to a tenant. On the fourth floor are the Association’s board room, terrace and catering area for events and meetings. The terrace offers views of uptown Charlotte, Pearl Street Park and the Midtown area. Designed by Little Diversified Architectural Consulting, the building is distinctive for a largely all-glass exterior at the northeast corner of the structure. The side of the parking deck that faces Pearl Street Park features large intersecting bars against a background of metal panels of varying shades and shapes. The configuration signifies Charlotte as a crossroads city with a diverse population. A walk through the building’s interior evokes three words: housing, nature and urban. “Evident in highly durable but attractive fabrics and finishes, these themes flow together like colors of a painting to reflect the various landscapes found in North Carolina, suggesting the ‘who’ and ‘where’ of the structure,” said Vice President of Human Resources Laura Cuddy, who led coordination of the interior upfit. For more on the interior and the building’s LEED features, see the sidebar on page 89. Apart from the building’s attractiveness and functionality, Association members could take heart that the headquarters was built with no dues or fee increases. Thanks to the sale of the land the Association owned but didn’t need near the new building, Canopy moved in with an impressive 85 percent equity in the building and deck. The excess land sold for $20.1 million, while the project value of the new building and deck was $28 million.
Chapter 16 | Canopy Through The Decades
Against the backdrop of opening the new building, activities of the Association remained unabated and even expanded to serve members. Canopy MLS took four MLSs from the region under its wing in 2019 with the addition of subscribers in Burke and McDowell counties, Salisbury/Rowan County and, in South Carolina, with the acquisition of Piedmont Regional MLS, serving York, Chester and Lancaster counties. The process also began in 2019 for the MLS serving Cleveland County Realtors® to become part of Canopy MLS in 2020.
healthy relationships and as an outgrowth of having lived in a domestic violence shelter in Monroe with their family.
The Pearl Society is named in honor of Pearl Street Park, once part of the predominantly African American Brooklyn neighborhood, destroyed during urban renewal in the 1960s. The Pearl Society Another MLS development that began in 2019 and continued launched in June 2019 and into 2020 was Canopy MLS’s full migration of IDX, VOW raised $140,000 over only a and back-office data feeds to the MLS Grid. Pioneered and few months through founding Mykia and Zarriah White financially supported by a consortium of large MLSs that 2019 YES Award Recipients members, pushing the included Canopy MLS ($100,000 commitment), the MLS Grid Foundation one step closer to represented a big step forward in efficiency and technology for reaching a $1 million endowment. MLS users. But the Pearl Society is about more than just raising “Canopy MLS was a founding investor of MLS Grid in 2015 money, said founding member Anthony Lindsey, a longtime because from the start we believed in it as a means to increase Association leader and 2020 Realtor® of the Year. “It’s visionary efficiencies and reduce broker costs. It is a true example of and aspirational. It’s the MLSs working collaboratively for brokers,” said CEO Anne Marie opening of the tent and DeCatsye. inviting people to participate. “Not only does MLS Grid provide a standardized data feed, it It’s saying that while we have allows brokers who belong to multiple MLSs that subscribe done a good bit of work, we to the MLS Grid to only have one license agreement and know there is a lot of work to one set of rules, resulting in reduced costs for technology, be done.” compliance and analytics,” DeCatsye continued. “MLS Grid A sculpture honoring Lindsey continues to grow and now (as of early 2021) serves multiple and the other founding MLSs across the country (not just the founding organizations) members of the Pearl Society with hundreds of vendors using the MLS Grid for thousands of occupies a prominent spot IDX and VOW sites, as well as brokers using it for back-office inside the main entrance operations.” to the headquarters, which The MLS Grid uses current technology, Web API, for a single, opens onto Pearl Street Park. standardized data feed. In addition to making the data (See the headquarters sidebar consistent across MLS Grid members, it opens up possibilities on p. 89 for more on the for new products that brokerages could adopt to work in sculpture). conjunction with the feeds. The key is the universality of When 2019 wound down, Web API, which replaced the outdated, proprietary computer the Charlotte regional real language known as the Real Estate Transaction Standard, or estate market was strong, RETS. It was put in place in 1999, an eon ago by technology with sales up nearly 6 percent standards. over the previous year. Sales Meanwhile in 2019, the Canopy Housing Foundation’s stellar also broke a record for the year featured distribution of more than $90,000 at the 16-county Charlotte region “Opening Hearts, Openings Doors” community grants luncheon served by Canopy MLS with September 4, as well as several firsts in 2019 — the debut of more than 50,000 properties the Foundation’s own standalone website apart from the sold. Pending contracts — an Association’s, creation of the YES Award recognizing youth indicator of future sales — leadership and founding of the Pearl Society. were also buoyant at the end A sculpture in the first floor lobby of 2019, registering a 9 percent of the Canopy headquarters honors The first YES Award — which stands for Youth Excellence increase over 2019. founding members of the Pearl in Service — went to sisters Mykia and Zarriah White, who Society. founded the Turning Point Teen Club at their school, Monroe High. The sisters formed the club to focus on developing
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Looking closer at the new hq When Canopy Realtor® Association moved into its four-story, 58,697-square-foot headquarters in 2019, three themes described the interior of the building: housing, nature and urban. The housing motif is displayed just inside the front door in two ways: a rich brown vaulted ceiling that suggests a home’s roof and the Pearl Society sculpture by well-known artist Shaun Cassidy. The sculpture contains a replica of a shotgun house, reminiscent of ones in the former Brooklyn neighborhood, which was not far from where the building stands today. Keys hanging from the tree-themed sculpture honor the founding members of the Pearl Society. The building’s location on Pearl Street Park inspired the nature design throughout the building, represented by greens of spring and summer on the first two floors, blues and grays of winter on the third floor and leaf colors of autumn on the fourth. Tributes to the local tree canopy can be found in live-edge wood tables, in the commissioned Cassidy sculpture and in large wall art of tree canopies. High, industrial-style exposed ceilings, an open floorplan, polished concrete floors, large windows, clean furniture lines and materials emphasizing functionality define the urban feel of the building. Stools are made of steel and wood, and geometric lighting, both functional and design appropriate, is found throughout. The building is also LEED certified at the Silver Level. There are six electric car charging stations, 11 green vehicle parking spaces and bicycle parking. Not so visible, though, are technologies such as advanced metering of energy consumption, energy-efficient lighting systems and an underground stormwater vault, which captures all water from the roof and parking deck. The water is then filtered for dirt and sediment and dispersed in a controlled way. For Canopy Real Estate Institute, the new building is a big breath of fresh air. For many years, the Institute held most of its classes on the bottom floor of the former headquarters building, which had been built in the 1970s. “People used to call us ‘the basement,’” recalled Canopy Real Estate Director Karyn Lindsey when the new building opened. “We no longer have that basement reputation. We are in an innovative, welcoming, professional environment.” The Institute has roomy, comfortable classrooms with lots of natural light and interactive white boards. The classrooms also have excellent sound systems, plug-ins for laptops, phone charging stations at each desk and a nearby break area with cafe-style seating. Other popular features of the building are The Realtor® Store with its glass walls that overlook Pearl Street Park and the Genius Bar that provides a “family room” for relaxing and gathering with others. Both are on the second floor, as is the Canopy MLS Tech Training Center. The tech training center is more than 50 percent larger than the former training space and better configured for instructorstudent interaction. 89 | canopy100.com
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The Association’s MLS focused primarily on Charlotte/Mecklenburg from its start in 1950 until the late 1980s. But as regionalization grew in the Charlotte metro area in the 1980s and 1990s, several nearby MLSs merged their organizations with what today is Canopy MLS: Union County (included Anson County) in 1989, followed by Lincoln County and Cabarrus (included Montgomery, Stanly counties) in 1993. Gaston County came on board in 1994, as did Iredell — which included Alexander County but not Wittenburg Township — the same year.
Canopy MLS Serves 12 Associations
Nearly 30 years later, in the late-2010s, Canopy MLS took a bigger regional leap as MLS consolidation became common across the country as well. “We applaud these MLSs for being forward-thinking and for their desire to better serve their members,” 2020 Canopy MLS President John Kindbom said of the MLSs who joined Canopy MLS. “Ultimately, this type of alliance strengthens our MLS as well as helps our brokers realize greater cost savings and standardization of data across the industry.” North Carolina Mountains MLS, made up mainly of Buncombe, Haywood and Henderson counties, consolidated with Canopy MLS in 2018. Other counties in the mountains contingent included Polk, Madison and Transylvania counties. A year later, in 2019, MLSs from Burke, McDowell and Salisbury/Rowan counties joined, as did South Carolina’s Piedmont Regional MLS, made up of York, Lancaster and Chester counties. In 2020, North Carolina-based MLSs in Cleveland and Catawba counties (included Caldwell County) merged with Canopy MLS. The additions of Catawba Valley and Cleveland County, as well as continued growth in general, brought Canopy MLS subscribers to 20,192 as of Dec. 31, 2020, reflecting an increase of 5,004 subscribers over the end of 2019. As of mid-April 2021, Canopy MLS served as the MLS for 12 Realtor® associations: •
Canopy Realtor® Association (Mecklenburg, Iredell, Haywood and Alexander counties, except for Wittenburg Township in Alexander)
Union County Association of Realtors® (Union, Anson)
Gaston Association of Realtors® (Gaston)
Central Carolina Association of Realtors® (Cabarrus, Montgomery, Stanly)
Lincoln County Board of Realtors® (Lincoln)
Hendersonville Board of Realtors® (Henderson, Polk)
Land of the Sky Association of Realtors® (Buncombe, Madison, Transylvania)
Burke County Board of Realtors® (Burke)
McDowell Board of Realtors® (McDowell)
Salisbury/Rowan Association of Realtors® (Rowan)
Catawba Valley Association of Realtors® (Catawba, Caldwell)
Piedmont Regional Association of Realtors® (York, Lancaster, Chester)
(continued from page 88) Pending contracts were also up at the end of 2019 for the North Carolina mountain region served by Canopy MLS, rising 15.6 percent in 2019 over 2018. The mountain region also posted a 24.6 percent increase in sales year over year and saw the median price of a home ($260,000) and the average price ($307,284) increase 4 percent and 3 percent, respectively. Also in 2019, the Haywood Association of Realtors® asked to join Canopy Realtor® Association. Realtors® in Haywood sought the merger for more professional development and educational opportunities through Canopy Real Estate Institute as well as to have a greater impact on housing issues in Haywood County through Canopy Housing Foundation. In November, Canopy Realtor® Association held an in-person membership meeting to vote on Haywood’s request. The
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request was overwhelmingly approved, and Haywood became Canopy’s first association addition since Iredell County in 1994. The Association officially welcomed Haywood on January 1, 2020, and the real estate market looked good in both Charlotte and the mountains based on pending contracts from late 2019. When NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun spoke at the Installation Luncheon on January 10, he painted a rosy picture of the Charlotte region to the approximately 385 members and staff at the Crowne Plaza Charlotte. “You are in a very good market,” Yun said. Noting he had no data foreshadowing a recession, Yun said the Charlotte region was predicted to be a top performer nationally. He said it was among 10 markets in the country that NAR expected would outperform the national average in home-price appreciation over the next three to five years.
Chapter 16 | Canopy Through The Decades
Association Pivots to Pandemic Support
When the coronavirus hit in 2020 and government stay-at-home orders came along in late March, Association leadership and staff pivoted quickly to serve members. They did so despite having to close the Association headquarters, work remotely via the Zoom platform, and schedule both curbside pick-up from The Realtor® Store and appointments to exchange keys and lockboxes. The first imperative was to gain clarity on local stay-at-home orders, especially in Mecklenburg County, where the county’s initial order was more stringent than the state order because of a high infection rate in Mecklenburg at the time. Association leadership spoke with Mecklenburg County Manager Dena Diorio several times to seek clarification of language in the local stay-at-home order as it pertained to real estate activity. Diorio’s answers to questions were shared with members on a special COVID-19 webpage that the Association created and updated with new information. The webpage — which had nearly 11,000 views during 2020 — also contained information on stay-at-home orders for 25 counties served by the Association or Canopy MLS. COVID-19 also brought about a shift to online delivery of new member and MLS orientations, classes through the Canopy Real Estate Institute and office visits and training through MLS Tech Training. Association President John Kindbom and CEO Anne Marie DeCatsye delivered video updates on a regular basis. Fortunately, staff had already been developing an online version of new member orientation and rolled out the program fairly quickly. Survey results showed that members loved the convenience and the new format. Canopy’s Broker Relations Team quickly assembled online training on virtual showing tools, helping members adapt to the new environment and keep their businesses going. Canopy Real Estate Institute rapidly transitioned from in-person classes to a live stream Zoom format, offering day, evening 91 | canopy100.com
and weekend schedules. Virtual office hours and study halls supported students in prelicensing courses as they prepared for North Carolina and South Carolina real estate exams. Other virtual classes included broker postlicensing, designation and certification courses and update classes. The Institute also debuted “Conversations Under the Canopy,” a live stream with industry experts sharing career-building information and answering questions. The Institute also transitioned its review courses to live-stream formats to help North Carolina licensees earn their South Carolina license, and vice versa. A key player in the Institute’s online transition was Jim Fletemier, DREI, CDEI, hired in March 2020 as assistant director of curriculum and technology. The “CDEI” stands for certified distance education instructor. In October, his efforts were recognized more broadly when the N.C. Real Estate Educators Association named him president-elect for 2020-2021. “Jim brings a wealth of knowledge and professionalism to our staff, and we are thrilled that he will serve as president for NCREEA,” said Karyn Lindsey, the Institute’s director and vice president of education for the Association. “He and all of our instructors are a testament to the caliber of education we are committed to providing our students and members.” The Association became a conduit for good information during the pandemic. The marketing and communications staff created a Guide for Realtors® that consisted of links to resources such as the CARES Act, Paycheck Protection Program loans and education and training on local, state and national levels. A “Consumer Resource Guide” developed by the Association offered information on what buyers and sellers could expect based on CDC guidelines when working with Realtors®. Once initial stay-at-home orders were relaxed in May, Vice President of Risk Management Michele McCaskill wrote an article for the membership on how to safely show homes in person, noting that the virtual option was still recommended. In another measure, the Association’s annual Realtor® advocacy campaign was updated to include a safety message. Dubbed “With a Realtor®, You See It All Safely,” the campaign consisted of a wide range of digital and social media, radio spots, transit advertising and other outlets.
Chapter 16 | Canopy Through The Decades
Attendees at the luncheon liked hearing the positive outlook as well as comments from President John Kindbom, who spoke to “Being in the Room” for 2020. “It means being engaged with the critical decisions and actions that affect our Association and industry,” he said. Some Association events migrated online during the pandemic, including Realtor® Hot Topics, the “Opening Hearts, Opening Doors” grants luncheon and the Charlotte holiday event and auction. The separate Iredell event was canceled, and an Association-wide virtual event was renamed the Annual Meeting, Awards and Auction, and held on December 11. The foundation’s holiday auction was held online from right after Thanksgiving until to the evening after the annual meeting and brought in a record $27,008.53. Events requiring in-person interactions that had to be canceled in 2020 because of the pandemic included the Realtor® EXPO, Realtors® Care Day, the Strides for Shelter 5K, Project R.E.A.C.H. and Candidate Oktoberfest, formerly called the Candidate Fish Fry. The pandemic continued into 2021, and events were moved online when possible. In January, that was the case for a Realtor® Hot Topic on Charlotte’s 2040 growth plan as well as for the Installation and Economic Outlook. President David Kennedy interviewed realtor.com senior economist George Ratiu as part of the installation. Other online events early in 2021 included both a Brokerin-Charge Briefing and a Realtor® Hot Topic on fair housing and discrimination. Using technology to an advantage as well, the Realtor® EXPO returned March 11-12 as a virtual event. The Canopy Housing Foundation shifted Realtors® Care Day to September 24 and the Strides for Shelter 5K to October 24, spots later in the year than their usual time frames. The changes were made with hopes that the pandemic will have subsided enough to permit the in-person events to be held safely.
But little did he and the rest of the Association realize on that Friday in early January that “Being in the Room” would soon apply to navigating two unexpected national developments in a year few people will ever forget: the COVID-19 pandemic and national racial unrest. When stay-at-home orders went into effect in late March in North Carolina and early April in South Carolina, real estate services were considered “essential” businesses by the states and could continue to operate while adhering to COVID-19 safety guidelines. But some counties within North Carolina, including Mecklenburg, issued stricter stay-at-home orders that didn’t deem real estate services “essential.” In those counties, showings were severely limited, open houses prohibited and transactions challenging to accomplish. The stricter limits stayed in place in Mecklenburg until April 30. The Association worked hard to support members and their safety in the pandemic, as well as the safety of buyers and sellers. The organization closed its headquarters, sought to clarify stay-at-home orders with government officials and quickly moved most operations online. Each department immediately assessed which staff could perform their functions virtually and shifted those who could not to areas in need, predominantly Member Services and the Canopy Real Estate Institute. Several staff members were assigned to assist both departments. “A silver lining of COVID is that we are now more cross-trained than ever,” says Vice President of Human Resources Laura Cuddy. Leadership and staff began doing business via the Zoom platform and transitioned new member and MLS orientations, Institute classes, tech training and as many events as possible online. Furthermore, there was no interruption in MLS support throughout the year despite a higher volume of tickets and calls; few calls to MLS support ever went to voicemail. To see the breadth of how the Association’s shifted gears to serve members during the pandemic, see this sidebar on page 91. Though most Association functions stayed online through 2020 and through the first quarter of 2021, the real estate market began to bounce back in May 2020 after stay-at-home orders loosened somewhat and buyers and sellers came back into the market. In addition, mortgage rates were low at around 3 percent and the Charlotte region continued to gain population through business relocations to the area. These trends juiced the housing market after a lackluster spring, usually the busiest season for Realtors®. By early fall, closings were outpacing the previous year.
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Chapter 16 | Canopy Through The Decades
But COVID-19 wasn’t the only challenge in 2020. In late spring, the country experienced widespread social unrest after the death of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man in Minneapolis. His death, along with many others at the hands of white police officers in recent years, triggered a dialogue about systemic racism in the U.S. The Association issued a message to the community conveying deepest sympathy over the deaths as well as for others who have experienced the physical and emotional pain of systemic racial or economic discrimination. The message focused on Realtors® being advocates for fair housing, inclusion, fair treatment and equality for all.
John Kindbom President, 2020
To stay connected with members, President John Kindbom led a virtual town hall in July in which he discussed the decisions made by leadership to help navigate during COVID, specifically how the Association and MLS were working to keep members and consumers safe by following CDC guidelines and NAR best practices. He also stressed the importance of having conversations around being more inclusive and standing up to racial inequality.
Kindbom encouraged members to have conversations about race with friends, family and colleagues. The Diversity Council stepped up to provide information for a new “Diversity in Action” page on the Association’s website, reaffirming Canopy’s commitment to diversity and inclusion and providing information to help people start conversations on racism and related topics. The Association also promoted its “At Home with Diversity” course and offered tuition for only $10 for members. On the national level, NAR beefed up the Realtor® Code of Ethics and related penalties on racial discrimination. Canopy MLS, meanwhile, continued to stay busy with acquisitions in 2020 of MLSs serving Cleveland County (Shelby, N.C. area) and Catawba Valley (Hickory and Lenoir areas). Cat McCrary, 2020 president of the MLS of Catawba Valley, noted why her organization chose to become part of Canopy MLS. “We are excited about the wealth of possibilities this new chapter holds,” she said. “This consolidation ensures our members can continue to compete in today’s rapidly changing industry and real estate market.” The additions of Catawba Valley and Cleveland County, as well as continued growth in general, brought Canopy MLS subscribers to 20,192 as of Dec. 31, 2020, reflecting an increase of 5,004 subscribers over the end of 2019. Canopy Realtor® Association membership stood at 13,610 as of Dec. 31, 2020, posting a rise of 3,203 members from the previous year. 93 | canopy100.com
Canopy MLS also added new products and tools for use with the Matrix system in 2020. In response to COVID-19, the MLS staff added virtual showings and virtual open houses to both Matrix and ShowingTime. Also, Homesnap Pro launched with new features, including predictive analytics; the Realist tax system was updated; and RPR was integrated with ShowingTime. After a bumpy rollout of the OneHome client portal, the MLS staff worked with CoreLogic to handle issues. “Thank you for your patience as we worked through this,” CEO Anne Marie DeCatsye told the membership in her year-end video address. Further news for Canopy MLS in 2020 was the rollout of the Clear Cooperation policy on May 1. Mandated by NAR, Clear Cooperation was designed to reduce pocket (off-market) listings. The policy called for the listing broker to submit a listing to the MLS for cooperation within one day of marketing a property to the public, or within one business day from the Effective Date, Delayed Marketing Date or the beginning date of the listing term. In the past, listing brokers had 48 hours excluding holidays and weekends to enter a listing. Nearly two months after introducing Clear Cooperation, data showed it was working. Withheld listings were less than half of they were prior to the policy. Meanwhile, at Canopy Housing Foundation in 2020, COVID-19 struck a major blow. The pandemic forced cancellation of Realtors® Care Day, the Strides for Shelter 5K and Project R.E.A.C.H., but the Foundation persevered by shifting online with other activities and events. The Foundation’s Workforce Housing Certificate Program live-streamed courses and continued to graduate participating Realtors® as Workforce Housing Specialists. The training provides insight on how to assist first-time buyers of low or moderate income. Foundation board member and former Association President (2012), Jennifer Frontera was one of 33 Realtors® who earned the certificate in 2020. “The Foundation staff did a great job segueing this into a virtual experience,” she says. “I had worked with buyers doing some of these programs, but now I feel strong in myself that I have a certificate behind me. I am more educated.” The Foundation held its annual “Opening Hearts, Opening Doors” celebration virtually on Sept. 8-9. The organization distributed $88,750 to 33 nonprofits in the Charlotte region and in Haywood County. The distributions brought the Canopy Housing Foundation’s contributions to more than half a million dollars — $586,749.70 to be exact — to housing nonprofits through its community grants and Habitat support programs over the past 14 years. Grants in Haywood County were new in 2020 because Realtors® in the mountain community merged their association with Canopy on January 1 of the year. The ability to become part of Canopy Housing Foundation was a major consideration in seeking the merger.
Chapter 16 | Canopy Through The Decades
“It was a huge factor,” recalled Waynesville Realtor® Brian Cagle, now a member of the Canopy Housing Foundation Board of Directors. “We had made up our mind to start a foundation. We had done research about that process. With Canopy, it was already done. We would have been reinventing the wheel.” “I think the feeling was we could have a legacy,” Cagle continued. “We want to be part of the affordable housing solutions for our community.” Haywood saw an immediate philanthropic impact from the merger, which stipulated that $20,000 go back to Haywood County in community grants. That figure far exceeded the $3,000 the Haywood association had been able to distribute in charitable funds in 2019. Capping the year on a high note, the Canopy Housing Foundation took its annual holiday auction online because of COVID-19 and ran the event over several weeks. Previously, the auction had been held for about an hour prior to the annual Charlotte holiday luncheon. The bigger window of time, as well as additional sponsors, brought a large dividend. The 2020 Virtual Holiday Auction — beginning right after Thanksgiving and ending the evening of the Association’s online holiday event December 11 — brought in a record $27,008.53. The previous high amount was around $19,000. Thank you, Realtors®, for investing $87,250 to help address homelessness.
Thank you to our grant recipients helping to meet that need. Habitats for Humanity in 8 counties 23 nonprofit organizations in 3 counties 1 Youth Excellence in Service Award canopyhousingfoundation.org
Also at the end of 2020, Realtors® were happy the year produced good sales despite COVID-19 and that the year ahead looked promising. In the Charlotte region, closed sales for 2020 rose 5.5 percent over 2019, representing 54,076 sales over the 16-county area. The year’s median sales price of $280,000 increased 9.8 percent over 2019. New listings ticked up 1.5 percent and were absorbed almost immediately. The tight inventory of homes for sale were at less than a month’s supply, 0.8 of a month, at the end of 2020. Meanwhile, the mountain region served by Canopy MLS also showed low inventory (1.8 months) and increases in sales and the average median home price in 2020 when compared to 2019. Sales rose 13 percent on 12,687 properties sold, and the median sales price went up 12.7 percent to $293,000. The Catawba Valley market, which became part of Canopy MLS in 2020, also posted increases. Catawba Valley notched a 3.4 percent rise in sales (3,993 properties sold) and a 12.4 percent uptick in median price ($190,000). Based on good pending sales at the end of 2020 in all three regions — Charlotte, the N.C. mountains and Catawba Valley — sales were expected to continue strong into 2021. Realtor.com 94 | canopy100.com
even predicted the Charlotte region would rank third nationally among the “Top 10 Housing Markets of 2021.” Realtor.com® senior economist George Ratiu exuded such market optimism as keynote speaker at the 2021 Installation and Economic Outlook on January 27, held via Zoom because of the pandemic. More than 600 signed up for the event, which also featured an affordable housing “call to action” by 2021 President David Kennedy. Referring to realtor.com’s rating of the Charlotte region as the nation’s No. 3 housing David Kennedy market in 2021, Ratiu said: I President, 2021 expect that (strength) to remain beyond 2021. Charlotte is well positioned. Whatever recipe you have for success, it is working. Tweak it for improvement, but don’t mess with it.” As far as market challenges, Ratiu noted the low inventory of for-sale homes as well as affordability for low and moderate income buyers. He said the two factors are often related. Asked to identify the most significant headwind to affordability, Ratiu said: “Hands down, it’s supply — the number of homes, specifically new homes.” President David Kennedy also spotlighted the need for more affordable housing and encouraged his fellow Realtors® to be community leaders. “Realtors® are needed not only to help buy and sell homes, but to increase the current inadequate inventory,” he said. “It is imperative for Realtors® — along with economists, lawmakers and other industry stakeholders — to lead discussions that generate solutions.” In late 2020 and early 2021, the Foundation continued to examine how it could further its mission during the ongoing pandemic. With hopes COVID-19 might subside by the last quarter of 2021, the Foundation moved Realtors® Care Day from April to September 24. Similarly, the Strides for Shelter 5K was shifted from June to October. To help balance the calendar, the grant season for the Foundation moved a bit earlier, with grants slated to be announced in July instead of September. The Foundation also shared some big news early in 2021: its endowment surpassed $1 million. “It is wonderful to announce the fund has reached this goal,” said Michelle McCool, chief financial officer of the Association. “The endowment was established in 2003 from generous Realtor®, community and Association donations. These funds help ensure long-term sustainability of the Foundation’s mission to meet housing needs in the community.” The Association began the endowment with $10,000 in 2003, added the same amount in 2004 and has been building
Chapter 16 | Canopy Through The Decades
Geographic Footprint MLS covers 25 counties, 2 states
As of spring 2021, Canopy Realtor® Association and its wholly owned subsidiary, Canopy MLS, have a regional footprint that spans into much of western North Carolina and into the greater Rock Hill area of South Carolina. Over the years, growth of both the Association and the MLS has occurred largely in two time periods — the early 1990s and the late 2000s until present day. Here is how the growth evolved. From 1921 until 1989, both entities focused strictly on Charlotte and Mecklenburg County. But that began to change in the late 1980s with the growth of Charlotte as a metro area. Many Realtor® associations near the city sought to keep their own associations but merge their MLS with what is today called Canopy MLS. In 1989, Canopy MLS added Union County (including Anson County), followed by Lincoln County and Cabarrus County (including Montgomery, Stanly counties) in 1993, and Gaston County in 1994. On the Association side, Iredell County merged its Realtor® association in 1994 with what’s today known as Canopy Realtor® Association. The Iredell organization also included Alexander County except for Wittenburg Township. Canopy MLS also became the MLS provider for the Iredell/Alexander areas that became part of the Association.
As of mid-April 2021, Canopy MLS served 12 Realtor® associations that represent 25 counties in North and South Carolina: •
Canopy Realtor® Association (Mecklenburg, Iredell, Haywood and Alexander counties, except for Wittenburg Township in Alexander)
Union County Association of Realtors® (Union, Anson)
Gaston Association of Realtors® (Gaston)
Central Carolina Association of Realtors® (Cabarrus, Montgomery, Stanly)
Lincoln County Board of Realtors® (Lincoln)
Hendersonville Board of Realtors® (Henderson, Polk)
Land of the Sky Association of Realtors® (Buncombe, Madison, Transylvania)
Burke County Board of Realtors® (Burke)
McDowell Board of Realtors® (McDowell)
Salisbury/Rowan Association of Realtors® (Rowan)
Catawba Valley Association of Realtors® (Catawba, Caldwell)
Piedmont Regional Association of Realtors® (York, Lancaster, Chester)
Nearly 25 years later, Canopy MLS started to grow again as smaller MLSs in a wider regional area sought technological and economic advantages of being part of a larger MLS. North Carolina Mountains MLS, made up mainly of Buncombe, Haywood and Henderson counties, consolidated with Canopy MLS in 2018. Other counties in the mountains group included Polk, Madison and Transylvania counties. A year later, MLSs from Burke, McDowell and Salisbury/Rowan counties joined in 2019, as did South Carolina’s Piedmont Regional MLS, made up of York, Lancaster and Chester counties. In 2020, North Carolina-based MLSs in Cleveland and Catawba counties (including Caldwell County) merged with Canopy MLS. Also in 2020, the Haywood Realtor® Association merged with Canopy Realtor® Association.
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The area in blue shows the counties in the Carolinas served by Canopy MLS.
Chapter 16 | Canopy Through The Decades
the fund ever since through the Foundation. In particular, contributions from the Pearl Society, a Foundation donor group started in June 2019, pushed the endowment over its $1 million goal in December 2020. “Reaching this goal is a true accomplishment and speaks to the long-term fiscal commitment of the Canopy Housing Foundation to address critical housing needs in our community,” said Deviré Robinson, a vice president at Foundation For The Carolinas, which manages the endowment for Canopy. Foundation Executive Director Terri Marshall underscored the long-term commitment. “We want to build a Realtor® legacy that will last,” she said. “It’s not a mercy fund or a savings account — it’s really about building longevity for the future and ensuring that Realtor® legacy.” Also in early 2021, the Association continued its successful member value campaign starting in January. “With a Realtor®, you see it all” promotes the expertise and skills agents offer home buyers and sellers.
President David Kennedy acknowledged the big anniversary and issued a challenge at the installation event in 2021. “May we reflect upon the first 100 years of success and failure with a promise to expand our lineage of triumphs and a vow to reject our past transgressions,” he said, noting the real estate industry’s history of blockbusting, steering and redlining for the purposes of segregation. “While segregation remains,” he continued, “homeownership is within the bounds of possibility for more Americans than ever before. Realtors® are needed to usher millennials, minorities and anyone prime for the realization of the American dream of homeownership. May we enter our second century with a steadfast devotion to the fundamental rights afforded to all by more than just fair housing laws.” Editor's Note: The Association also has a 100th anniversary website at www.canopy100.com and is planning a centennial celebration for Dec. 10, 2021.
In February, a second campaign began to highlight the value of a Realtor® and the power of the MLS. Titled “With a Realtor®, you’re in the know,” the campaign emphasizes that a Realtor® has access to the most accurate and timely data, as well as the ability to offer more exposure for a home on the market. The MLS campaign spans 25 counties and includes digital display ads and billboards featuring local market data. The way the data is used demonstrates how Realtors® provide expert analysis on market conditions and competitive pricing. In addition to the Realtor® value campaigns, the Association continued engaging members through virtual programming in early 2021, ranging from a Broker-in-Charge Briefing and two Realtor® Hot Topic sessions to the annual Realtor® EXPO. The first Hot Topic session focused on the 2040 Charlotte growth plan, while the BIC Briefing and the other Hot Topic spotlighted fair housing and discrimination. In conjunction with National Fair Housing Month in April, the Association held a Fair Housing Challenge, “Stand Up for Racial Equity,” encouraging members to take advantage of a wide range of Realtor® tools and resources on fair housing and discrimination. In honor of its 100th anniversary in 2021, the Association began the year looking at possibilities in light of the pandemic. Several projects emerged: creating a website to feature the organization’s history, launching a Friends of the Pearl Society campaign to raise $100 donations to the Canopy Housing Foundation and hosting a centennial celebration in late 2021.
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Canopy Through the Decades
Association presidents 99 | canopy100.com
Over its first 100 years, Canopy Realtor® Association has had 91 different presidents. In the early years, two presidents — James H. Carson and V.J. Guthery — served three terms apiece. Since 1936, seven presidents have served two terms each. 1921 F.C. Abbott 1922 Frank E. Harlan 1923 E.C. Griffith 1924 W.C. Rankin 1925, 1934, 1935 James H. Carson 1926 S.T. Henderson 1927 W. B. Huntington 1928 A.I. Henderson 1929, 1930, 1932 V.J. Guthery 1931 H.Y. Dunaway 1933 C.W. Todd 1936, 1937 Lee Kinney 1938 Lex Marsh 1939, 1960 Paul B. Guthery 1940, 1941 Frank R. Thies Sr. 1942, 1943 Willis I. Henderson 1944 Albert Escott 1945 J.E. Barrentine 1946 Boyce M. Brown 1947 E.B. Dudley 1948 James M. Trotter 1949 Fred L. Harkey 1950 John M. Dwelle Sr. 1951 J.P. Hackney Jr. 1952 E.L. Vinson Sr. 1953 Nat G. Spier 1954 Henry G. Newson 1955 Robert R. Rhyne Sr. 1956 W. Banks McClintock Jr. 1957 W.F. Masten Jr. 1958 H.B. Jerman 1959 John G. Turner 1961 Harry G. Brown 1962 DeLacy E. Wyman 1963 Stuart W. Elliot 1964 Sam T. Atkinson Jr. 1965 T.R. Lawing Sr. 1966 C.H. Touchberry 1967 T.W. “Will” Crutcher Jr. 1968 John W. Byers Jr. 1969 James A. Basinger Jr. 1970 Herman R. Yoos Jr. 1971 L. David Berryhill Jr. 1972 Howard Bumgardner 1973 Chet Snow Sr. 1974 Charles F. Ritch Jr. 100 | canopy100.com
1975 H.C. “Smoky” Bissell 1976 Jackie B. Kiser 1977 Sandra Townsend 1978 Steve Strawn 1979 James L. Varnadore 1980 Buddie Guthrie 1981 David Reule 1982 Moffatt Sherard 1983 Chet Snow Jr. 1984 Dan Cottingham 1985 Muriel Helms 1986 Margaret "Micki" G. Fisher 1987 Alyce Walker 1988 Ward Mullis 1989 Denver Board 1990 Allen St. Clair 1991 Jody Harpootlian 1992 Catherine Browning 1993 Tommy Lawing Jr. 1994 Carolyn Thomasson 1995 Anne Little 1996 Bill Lackey 1997 Allan Nanney, Larry Talbot 1998 Larry Talbot 1999 Sandra Larsh 2000 Patty McKeel 2001 Mike Rash 2002 Bill Mathers 2003 Tony Smith 2004 David Barnhardt 2005 John W. Byers III 2006 Gay Dillashaw 2007, 2008 Dot Munson 2009 Donna Anderson 2010 Lyn Kessie 2011 Laurie Knudsen 2012 Jennifer Frontera 2013 Eric Locher 2014 Joe Rempson 2015, 2016 Maren Brisson-Kuester 2017 Roger Parham 2018 Jason Gentry 2019 Brenda Hayden 2020 John Kindbom 2021 David Kennedy
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Canopy Through the Decades
Award recipients 103 | canopy100.com
Realtors of the year ®
The Realtor® of the Year Award is the highest honor given by Canopy Realtor® Association. The annual award recognizes a Realtor® member who has made outstanding contributions to the real estate profession and community.
ROOKIES of the year
Named in honor of the Association’s first executive officer, the Vane Mingle Rookie of the Year is presented annually to a new Realtor® who is excelling in the profession and is active in the community. 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005
David Barnhardt Linda Timler Kathy Carver Joan Mashburn Gay Dillashaw Kathy Hadley Carl Leonard Anne Webster Cay Craig Pat Agurs Isabel Nichols Libby Offnick Jane Coleman Tobin Henry Elizabeth Taylor Amanda Dillashaw Debbie White Joan Goode
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2006 Suzanne Coddington 2007 Mike Hege 2008 Eric Gamble 2009 Derrick Kiker 2010 Boston Reid 2011 Jason Gentry 2012 Danny Williamson 2013 Jeffrey Clay 2014 Brian Casper 2015 Melissa Zimmerman 2016 Kevin Ratliff 2017 Renee Horner 2018 Jonathan Yeatts 2019 Abby Wilson 2020 Rita Goforth
1959 1960 1961 1962 1963 1964 1965 1966 1967 1968 1969 1970 1971 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
Lex Marsh Nat G. Spier Paul B. Guthery James H. Carson Ed Vinson Sr. DeLacy E. Wyman Sam T. Atkinson Jr. Frank E. Harlan T.R. Lawing Sr. C.H. Touchberry W. Banks McClintock Jr. Robert R. Rhyne Sr. C.W. Todd L. David Berryhill Jr. Willis I. Henderson James A. Basinger Jr. Herman R. Yoos Jr. Frank R. Thies Sr. James M. Trotter Stuart W. Elliott Jackie B. Kiser Allen Tate Jr. Sandra Townsend Steve Strawn Chet Snow Sr. Bob Broadway Chet Snow Jr. John Crosland Jr. Margaret "Micki" G. Fisher James L. Varnadore Ralph Howey Perrin Henderson Muriel Helms Ward Mullis Dan Cottingham Tommy Lawing Jr. H.C. “Smoky” Bissell Catherine Browning Roy Currie Betty Hayes Larry Talbot Bill Lackey Tony Pressley Allen St. Clair Judy Simmons Tony Smith David Barnhardt Bill Gallagher Alyce Walker Cindy Chandler Dot Munson Aric Beals Pat Riley John Byers Jr. Donna Anderson Sandra Larsh Joe Rempson Maren Brisson-Kuester Jennifer Frontera Mike Rash Lamar Keller Anthony Lindsey
Home Giveaway Winners
In the 2000s, the Canopy Realtor® Association — then known as the Charlotte Regional Realtor® Association — gave away a home on five occasions to a low or moderate income individual who completed a homeownership program through the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Housing Partnership, now DreamKey Partners. All aspiring homeowners who completed the homeownership class had their names entered into a drawing for a new home. The program was a part of the Association’s Housing Opportunity Foundation, now Canopy Housing Foundation.
Year Winner Neighborhood Builder 2002 Geoffrey Jordon Stewarts Glen Liberty Homes
2004 Dave Wolan King's Creek Liberty Homes 2005 Brenda Williamson The Park at Oaklawn Saussy Burbank 2006 Cynthia Nealson Mulberry Pond Regent Homes 2007 Joyce Patton Chapel Grove KB Homes
Humanitarian award recipients
The Canopy Housing Foundation’s Humanitarian Award was established in 2007 to recognize individuals, projects or groups making outstanding contributions on behalf of others that enhance the quality of life in the region. 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
David Barnhardt HAMMERS Program Davidson Housing Coalition The Rev. George Cook Jr., pastor, Greater Mount Sinai Baptist Church Kids First of the Carolinas Ginger Dowdle, founder, The Shepard’s Watch Camp Bob Bishop
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2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
Curt Seifart Otis Crowder John T. Crawford Don Gately, Crossroads Corporation Shaun “Lucky” Corbett Erin Santos Amy and Nancy DeCaron Richard Gilbert
Community Grant Recipients
Canopy Housing Foundation's Community Grants Program provides financial support to nonprofit organizations that address unmet housing needs in Mecklenburg, Haywood and Iredell counties. Total grant amounts per year have grown from $10,000 in each of the first three years to more than $60,000 in 2020.
2009: $10,000 (total award) Hope House Latin American Coalition The Salvation Army Center of Hope Wesley Community Development Center
2010: $10,000 Changed Choices
Men’s Shelter of Charlotte Residential and Support Services Samaritan House
2011: $10,000 Builders of Hope
Carolinas Care Partnership Charlotte Family Housing Children’s Homes of Iredell County Love In the Name of Christ
2012: $10,000 Changed Choices
Diakonos (Fifth Street Ministries) Love In the Name of Christ Samaritan House The Salvation Army United Family Services Urban Ministry Center 2013: $15,000 A Child’s Place Barium Springs Children’s Home Changed Choices Horizon Development Properties Love In the Name of Christ Time Out Youth Urban Ministry Center YWCA Central Carolinas
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Beds for Kids Bradley-Reid Corporation Changed Choices Diakonos (Fifth Street Ministries) Love In the Name of Christ Men’s Shelter of Charlotte The Harvest Center of Charlotte The Salvation Army Time Out Youth YWCA Central Carolinas
2015: $30,000 Beds for Kids
Changed Choices Charlotte Community ToolBank Children’s Hope Alliance Community Link Crisis Assistance Ministry Diakonos (Fifth Street Ministries) Kids First of the Carolinas Men’s Shelter of Charlotte Safe Alliance Time Out Youth Vision Possible Ministries
2016: $31,500 Angels and Sparrows
Beds for Kids Charlotte Rescue Mission Galilee Ministries of East Charlotte Hope Haven Kids First of the Carolinas Matthews Help Center RunningWorks Supportive Housing Communities The T.R.E. Foundation Time Out Youth Urban Ministry Center
2017: $41,500 Beds for Kids
Carolina Comfort Coalition/Serenity House Changed Choices Charlotte Crown Realtist Association Charlotte Family Housing Charlotte Housing Authority Scholarship Fund Charlotte Rescue Mission Community Culinary School of Charlotte Crisis Assistance Ministry Gracious Hands Transitional Housing Men’s Shelter of Charlotte My Sister’s House (Friendship CDC) QC Family Tree Safe Alliance The Relatives The T.R.E. Foundation
2018: $42,499 A Child’s Place
Ada Jenkins Center Beds for Kids Changed Choices Charlotte Family Housing Charlotte Housing Authority Scholarship Fund Home4Me Lily Pad Haven QC Family Tree RunningWorks Safe Alliance Supportive Housing Communities The Relatives The T.R.E. Foundation Time Out Youth
2019: $42,000 Ada Jenkins Center
Beatties Ford Road Vocational Trade Center Changed Choices Charlotte Family Housing Davidson Housing Coalition Diakonos (Fifth Street Ministries) Families Forward Charlotte Foundation For Girls Gracious Hands Transitional Housing Lily Pad Haven Matthews HELP Center Project One RunningWorks Safe Alliance The Salvation Army YWCA Central Carolinas
2020: $62,750 Angels and Sparrows
Beatties Ford Road Vocational Trade Center Beds for Kids Changed Choices Charlotte Family Housing Charlotte Housing Authority Scholarship (Greater Steps Scholars) Crisis Assistance Ministry Diakonos (Fifth Street Ministries) Families Forward Charlotte Foundation For Girls Furnish For Good Haywood Pathways Center Home4Me HELP Center InReach Jacob’s Dream House Mountain Projects Project One Roof Above The ARC of Haywood County The EACH Initiative The Relatives Thompson Child & Family Focus (A Child’s Place)
YES Award REcipients In 2019, the Canopy Housing Foundation initiated the Youth Excellence in Service (YES) Award to recognize and celebrate youth who are improving the quality of life in the region by addressing community needs and helping others.
2019 Mykia and Zarriah White
Founders, Turning Point Teen Talk Club
2020 Alexa Nicole Suarez
Founder, Hispanic Initiative for Literacy and Learning Project 106 | canopy100.com
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Pearl Society Founding members Launched in June 2019, the Pearl Society is a benefactor group that supports the Canopy Housing Foundation. Founding members of the Pearl Society are donors who gave at least $1,000 in a campaign to increase the Foundation’s endowment.
$5,000 Suzanne Coddington
$2,500 Lee Allen
$1,500 David Barnhardt
$1,000 Alece Alexander
The Ckezepis Family David Deal Anne Marie DeCatsye Gay Dillashaw Bill Gallagher Joan Goode Brenda Hayden Thomas R. Lawing Jr. T. R. Lawing Sr. (in memorium) Vicky Mitchener Joe Rempson Pat Riley
Dave Berryhill Leigh Brown Jim Burbank Geena Fie Jennifer Frontera Phyllis Furr Cindi Hastings Alma Jacobs and Grady Thomas PJ Kennedy Sandy and John Kindbom Val Mitchener Jason Morton Marbelia Murillo Jonathan Roberts Thomas Shoupe Ducie Stark Melissa Zimmerman
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Brenda Armstrong Hadi Atri and Kourosh Sharifi Cindy Chandler Dan Cottingham Jason Gentry Michael Hoard Tiffany Johannes Dot and Harry Munson
Butch Austin Ed Baesel Randall Blankenship Maren Brisson-Kuester Tanya Brown Judy Chapman Allen Dargins Charisma Dockery Smith Bob Hull David Kennedy Laurie Knudsen Anthony Lindsey Todd Long Rob Nanfelt Family Eric Norman Billy Shugart Julie Tache Josh Tucker Canopy Senior Leadership Team
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The panorama of the Association’s centennial is far wider and deeper than can be captured here. For the full view, see “Canopy Through the D...
Published on May 18, 2021
The panorama of the Association’s centennial is far wider and deeper than can be captured here. For the full view, see “Canopy Through the D...