Jack Carlson, who resigned this month as chief economist and executive vice president of the National Assn. of Realtors, said in a telephone interview from his Maryland home that he left the association to seek new challenges.
"When I joined the association seven years ago, the idea was for me to be a change agent: to firm up the organization and achieve certain objectives," he said, "and I feel that's what I did."
While Carlson was with the Washington-based, 700,000-member association (the nation's largest trade group), he concentrated on four areas of development:
Areas of Development
1-The legal side with an educational program for association members, helping to make errors-and-omissions insurance available and raising funds for legal battles of association interest;
2-Skill training for beginning, intermediate and advanced real estate agents;
3--Political/legislative programs, including the establishment of what he termed "the largest political action committee in the country," involving 100,000 realtors, and
4--Improving information systems, including the Multiple Listing System and computer-based electronic systems using telephones and satellites.
Today, a realtor gets paid $1,500 more a year for his or her services, he noted, because the trade group's influence on public policies has resulted in 25% more homes being exchanged annually. The association was also in poor financial condition when he came aboard, he said, and he saw it through the recession and recovery. Now the group has $50 million in reserves and owns two office buildings, he added.
"So the organization's role has been identified, and our programs have been put in place. I made my contribution, and it's appropriate for me to move on."
Carlson echoed NAR President Clark Wallace's comment that Carlson's departure was "harmonious" and "agreeable." "And now we have a search party to find someone to maintain our gains rather than furthering change," Wallace said. Bill North, the association's general counsel, is filling Carlson's position until at least May.
Asked about reports that Carlson, an Easterner, was a victim of a move to replace key people in the association with Californians, Carlson chuckled. "That probably stemmed from the fact that the current president (Wallace) is a Californian, but that would be said of whatever state the president came from."
Wallace denied that Carlson was a victim. "Last year, Jack was saying that when his services were no longer relevant and he wasn't needed, it would be time for him to find other fields to conquer, and that's what he's going to do." Carlson is job hunting.
Carlson figured that his goals would take five years to achieve. "So I was with the association two years too long," he added.