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Managing partner and principal broker Kit Hale discusses the Roanoke company’s early history and how technology has changed real estate.
STEPHANIE KLEIN-DAVIS | The Roanoke Times
Kit Hale, who has been with MKB Realtors since 1990, has been in a managerial role since 1996.
Sunday, April 14, 2013
Kit Hale is the managing partner and principal broker of MKB Realtors in Roanoke.
MKB, which was known as Mastin, Kirkland, Bolling Realtors from 1973 until the mid-1990s, is celebrating 40 years in the community.
Hale, who has been with the company since 1990, has been in a managerial role since 1996. He served as president of the Roanoke Valley Association of Realtors in 2001 and president of the Virginia Association of Realtors in 2006. Hale is currently a member of the board of directors of the National Association of Realtors, and he worked in single-family residential construction before joining MKB.
He talked recently about MKB's early history, how technology has changed real estate and how the economy has affected the market.
How did MKB get started?
The M, the K [and] the B started the company. Lee Mastin, Betty Kirkland and Chan Bolling ... formed the company in 1973. ... Lee, Betty and Chan are all native Roanokers. They grew up together. ... I listed and sold for them [from 1990] until 1996 and I took on a management role in 1996. ... Today, we are about 120 licensees [real estate agents ] ... and a staff of approximately 10 support staff and management staff and three offices.
Talk about those early years.
There wasn't a multiple listing service. ... If an agent listed a home back then, if a consumer wanted to know anything about it, they generally had to go to that person, because there wasn't any sharing of information. ... It evolved. There became a database of information and the form of the database were cards — index cards. So if an agent listed a house back in those days, they would fill out the information on an index card and it would be in their office to share. ...
When I first came into the business 20-something years ago, there was a central database. It was computerized, it was sort of an intranet. ... The agents would input the data and the data would be available for all the companies to dial into and get the information. ... The MLS, multiple listing service, had a contract with a publishing company and they would do a pull once every two weeks of the data and they'd print a book. ... The book was the Bible. The book was the information. So there was no sharing to the public of the information. If a sign went up on the home on the corner, and somebody wanted to know any information about the house ... we had the information. We were the gatekeepers. ...
Our local association went from an intranet-based MLS to an Internet-based MLS in 2001. And I remember that because I happened to be the president of the local association at the time, and it was quite dramatic.
Well, not everyone understood the Internet. ... There were very few on-ramps to the Internet and you had to have a dialup connection. It was terribly slow, and it was just a new system. ...
When we first started with an Internet-based MLS, some of the fear was, we'll lose control of our listings. ... It was bound to happen that we lost control of being the gatekeepers of information. So it is my belief that our industry shifted in a good direction to be much more service-oriented, much more engaged, much more knowledgeable with all the intricacies of the real estate transaction and deal with mortgages and inspections and titles and all those things, plus knowing the neighborhoods and knowing the schools, having more of that broad knowledge.
And so as it is now, if I put a sign up on the corner ... within hours, the public can find that listing. ... It is a much more empowered consumer that we are working with now, and we have to better understand our inventory, the market and be good listeners because the consumer a lot of times will come to us having already done searches, having already narrowed down the homes they want to see. ...
We used to haul people around for weeks and weeks at a time because they didn't have any of the information. ... Now, I have my show list on the iPad; they would've already, in a lot of cases, found the home on the Internet. ... Occasionally — not often, I'd never recommend this — there are folks who want to put a home under contract unseen. But we're not there yet. But we've moved much more to taking advantage of technology.
How has the economy affected the real estate market in your time here?
Real estate is cyclical, not only in a year's time but also over a period of time. ... The cycles up until 2006 or so had been fairly short-lived, both the peaks and valleys ... and not so devastating until we got to the early 2000s. ... There was a buying frenzy and it was a seller's market. And it was not sustainable, but it was a big boom time. It was good, but it was kind of frightening because we knew it couldn't last. And the forecasters said, this is gonna cool but it's gonna be a slow deflation of the balloon, don't worry. And the balloon burst. ...
And now as we try to get into recovery ... as [banks] look into the rear view mirror and see ... how loose they were, the pendulum has swung too far back the other way. So while by most all indicators, we're in recovery, it is being hindered a bit by some of the regulations. ... It's coming back and we're feeling pretty good about where we're going.
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