Hale has been with HAR since the 1970s, racking up a long list of accomplishments and awards along the way. René Galvan will succeed him as president and CEO.

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Bob Hale, who has spent decades at the helm of the Houston Association of Realtors (HAR) and as a prominent leader in the real estate industry nationally, announced this week that he plans to retire in 2026.

Bob Hale

Hale has worked for HAR since 1973 when he was hired as the organization’s legal counsel. He was promoted to president and CEO in 1988 and has held that position ever since. In a statement this week, Hale described his time at HAR as a “journey” that “I will cherish for the rest of my life.”

Following Hale’s retirement in 2026, HAR Executive Vice President René Galvan will take over as CEO. Galvan first joined HAR in 1996, and later did a stint as the CEO of the Realtor Association of Greater Fort Lauderdale, but eventually returned after two years.

Hale described his successor by saying in the statement: “I could not think of anyone more qualified and driven than René Galvan to lead HAR through the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead for the real estate industry.”

Hale has racked up numerous accolades during his time leading HAR. Among other things, the National Association of Realtors magazine repeatedly put him on its “25 Most Influential People in the American Real Estate Industry” list. Inman named him Innovator of the Year in 2008 and put him on its list of 100 Most Influential Real Estate People multiple times. He also recently landed 29th place on the 2024 Swanepoel Power 200, and has won a variety of other industry awards.

In addition to awards, Hale also has a long list of significant accomplishments. The statement notes that he is “credited with making HAR, with its more than 51,000 members, one of the most innovative real estate associations in the country.” He also oversaw the launch of HAR.com all the way back in 1997. According to the statement, the site continues to draw six million monthly visitors and makes Houston “the only major city in the country where a national portal is not the most visited real estate site.”

The statement further praises Hale’s leadership during episodes when HAR rolled out marketing campaigns, social media efforts and even YouTube videos. Hale additionally oversaw the launch of consumer rating programs and a Houston-area network for younger real estate professionals.

Though the transition from Hale’s leadership to that of Galvan won’t happen for two more years, its announcement comes at a critical time for the real estate industry. Most notably, 2023 saw a deluge of lawsuits over the way agents collect their commissions. The highest-profile of these cases, Sitzer | Burnett, went to trial in October and resulted in a defeat for the defendants, which include NAR and several large franchisors. The defendants have vowed to appeal, but the verdict unleashed a floodgate of similar cases, most of which attack the practice of having a seller’s agent pay a commission to a buyer’s agent.

HAR was not involved in Sitzer | Burnett, but it has been named as a defendant in subsequent cases along with dozens of other Realtor associations and brokerages.

Though the cases are likely years away from any resolution, they’ve sent shockwaves through the industry due to the possibility that they could ultimately force significant changes to the status quo.

René Galvan

As a result, Galvan will likely step into his leadership role at a time when the real estate industry faces significant challenges, and when HAR specifically is involved in an arduous legal struggle.

Nevertheless, HAR Chair Thomas Mouton expressed optimism about the future this week, as well as confidence in Galvan’s leadership.

“This is a historic moment for HAR,” Mouton said in the statement, “and I am humbled to be serving in the company of a pioneering and respected leader and his successor, who has proven he has everything it takes and more to lead our organization into the future.”

Email Jim Dalrymple II

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