Above, Bob Hale, HAR president and CEO, co-moderates a panel with RISMedia Founder and CEO John Featherston at the 2023 CEO & Leadership Exchange
Houston Association of REALTORS® (HAR) President and CEO Bob Hale, regarded as a titan in the U.S. residential real estate trade, has announced plans to retire in 2026, ending 52 years of service to the association, 37 of them at the helm, as well as decades of leadership contributions to the industry. The HAR board of directors also announced current HAR Executive Vice President René Galvan will succeed Hale as HAR president and CEO in 2026.
Ahead of his speaking engagement at RISMedia’s 2023 CEO & Leadership Exchange in Washington, D.C., last year, RISMedia interviewed Hale about his service and dedication to the industry. At that time he was celebrating 50 years in the business and looking ahead with excitement to the benefits to both clients and agents from new technologies.
“The consumer and the REALTOR® used to waste so much time in the old days,” he said in the June 2023 interview. “The agent didn’t get what they wanted and always complained about advertising in the newspaper because you had no way of knowing if that would work. With the internet, you can track everything with the portals. We see exactly how many times on har.com our listings have been looked at, how many times they’ve been bookmarked. I think it’s been really beneficial to both parties.”
Of Hale’s retirement announcement, RISMedia Founder and CEO John Featherston, commented:
“Bob Hale is an iconic professional who has helped shape the national residential real estate industry for decades. His vision and incredible ability to collaborate with so many organizations and experts, as the internet and technology became a driving force in our world, helped our industry in many ways. Bob Hale’s positive impact on our industry may have been headquartered in Houston, Texas, however, his impact throughout his long career was truly global. Well done Bob!”
Hale is credited with making HAR, with its more than 51,000 members, one of the most innovative real estate associations in the country and a household brand throughout Greater Houston, the organization said. He spearheaded the 1997 launch of HAR.com, which draws an estimated 6 million visitors each month and keeps Houston as the only major city in the country where a national portal is not the most visited real estate site, HAR stated.
In 1973, the HAR board of directors hired Hale as legal counsel, and in 1988, he was tapped as president and CEO—the position he continues to hold today. Along the way, Hale has received countless real estate and communication industry honors. In 2020, Hale was honored as and inducted into RISMedia’s Hall of Fame class of Real Estate Newsmakers. In 2003 and 2006, Hale was named by the National Association of REALTORS®‘ (NAR) REALTOR® magazine “25 Most Influential People in the American Real Estate Industry.” In 2010, Hale won the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC)-Houston Communication Leadership Award, and in 2011, he was honored by the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA)-Houston as CEO Communicator of the Year.
HAR also noted that Hale has been lauded as the driving force behind the use of multiple marketing communications platforms, including an online advertising campaign promoting the value of a REALTOR®, HAR’s use of social media, its HAR-TV video production service that has produced thousands of programs posted on YouTube, and the HAR.com Consumer Research Panel—comprised of more than 11,000 homebuyers, sellers, owners and renters who regularly share their experiences and opinions about the real estate industry. He also took HAR.com statewide by entering into partnerships with the largest franchises in the country and with other Texas MLSs, the association said.
Hale successfully pushed for the establishment of the Client Experience Rating, which is a five-star agent rating system that enables consumers to evaluate a REALTOR®‘s performance after each transaction. He also spearheaded the creation of the HAR Young Professionals Network (YPN), which fosters professional development among Houston-area REALTORS® aged 40 and younger—or young at heart. During the pandemic, Hale converted HAR into a hybrid workforce that delivered virtual member services, training and technology tools. In early 2021, he guided the in-house development and launch of ShowingSmartTM, a property showing service with a staffed call center for HAR MLS subscribers—at no additional cost.
A member-focused successor
Following Hale’s announcement, the HAR board of directors unanimously approved current HAR Executive Vice President René Galvan to succeed Hale as HAR president and CEO in 2026. According to HAR, Galvan has served as a critical member of the association’s management team since 1996, when he was hired as director of Business Development. In 1999, Galvan was recruited away as CEO of the REALTOR® Association of Greater Fort Lauderdale, but he returned to HAR as EVP two years later and has held that post ever since.
Asked about his accomplishments during his tenure at HAR, Galvan said, “I am most proud of building a team of incredible professionals, keeping focused on our mission of helping members achieve success, and working closely with staff and leadership to improve service to members while keeping a watchful eye on expenses resulting in no dues increase during the past 21 years.”
In addition to his HAR duties, Galvan currently serves on the Finance Committee at the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) and the Public Policy Taxation Committee at Texas REALTORS® (TR). He is also a member of the Texas Real Estate Political Action Committee (TREPAC) 50K Hall of Fame. He previously served on the Board of Directors of the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE).
“This journey has been one that I will cherish for the rest of my life,” said Hale. “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.”
“This is a historic moment for HAR, 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,” said HAR Chair Thomas Mouton.
The official date for the leadership transition is January 31, 2026.
For more information, visit the Houston Association of REALTORS®