We hope you join us in creating tomorrow’s history…
Over seventy years ago, a small group of real estate agents met for breakfast to share the details of their new listings and gab about real estate market activities. This group, the informal start of the MLS, was operating as the National Association of REALTORS® philosophically set out to do – join real estate professionals together so that they could easily make offers of cooperation and compensation.
The Berkshire cooperative was formed to address an industry need and soon outgrew the informal structure that had been established. That was when this group of real estate agents (primarily from Pittsfield) began to look at the resources available on the state and national level. Soon the original band of broker-owners was poised to take on the commitment of and to the ‘National Association of Real Estate Boards’ in establishing the first ‘Berkshire County Board of Real Estate’.
It’s not just a Local Cooperative Anymore
In January of 1941 the National Association formally declared the Berkshires to be part of the tri-level trade association agreement that we still adhere to today. At the time, the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) was growing by leaps and bounds across the country and there was excitement in developing a professional organization for our region.
From the White Tree Inn – To the MLS Book – To the Internet
When delving into our archives, it would seem that the Berkshire County Board of REALTORS® stayed a bit informal… there were no minutes until the early 60’s and those were very revealing about the way business used to be conducted. The Board would meet at 28 North Street – Room 508, to discuss association affairs, but lunch at the White Tree Inn was still a place to share listings and dinner dances were held frequently. How could you beat an all-you-can-eat smorgasbord with dancing by the ‘Novel Aires Orchestra’ until midnight, for the low, low price of $5.00 per person. Even in this era, the leadership had to come up with innovative ways to get members involved!
“My favorite discovery was finding that for some time in the 60’s the elected treasurer, Jim Woods, would stand at the door at the end of the weekly meetings and pass out $2 to anyone who stayed for the entire meeting!” Sandy Carroll, CEO
By 1962 the group changed the name of the association to the ‘Berkshire County Board of REALTORS®’ to reflect the National trademark name for real estate professionals who are members of the association. Can you hardly imagine a time when the term REALTOR® was not a common reference for all sales agents? In 1964 the Board got down to serious business and incorporated the company, and held the MLS as a committee of the Board. Listing sheets were typed and distributed, but a majority of the networking about property was still done face-to-face at Realtor® functions.
Mary McDermott Breaks the Glass Ceiling
Mary McDermott [above], broker-owner of McDermott Realty in Pittsfield Massachusetts, is the Berkshire REALTOR® member with the longest continuous service record in the Berkshire Board, and was also the first women elected into Board leadership in 1962. She served with distinction in many leadership capacities throughout the years but is most admired for her determination to run a successful business and serve as an elected leader in a traditionally male-dominated industry. She opened doors for other women to join, contribute and succeed. Supporting her children, Mary didn’t let anyone stand in her way to make a comfortable living in the real estate industry and participate in the decision making as well. With over forty years of service to the association, Mary has earned life membership in the REALTOR family and was honored at the presentation ceremony in 2010.
In 1962, Mrs. Smith was diligently working at the Board Office on North Street as the only staff member to coordinate the activities of the Board. 1968 must have been a good year for the real estate industry, because it was noted that it was unanimously approved to increase her salary to $8 per week.
North County Joins the Group
It was in 1968 that the Board of Directors decided to make a concerted effort to expand the Board into North County, to bring all members of the county into the REALTOR® fold. The membership of Northern brokers increased and soon the monthly dinner meetings were being held throughout the county. In the 1970’s the Board began being shaped by the National rules and regulations more directly, and the Board’s focus broadened to a larger scope.
Pass or Fail? Your Listings & Skills Told the Tale
The minutes reflect that prior to 1970, applicants for membership were investigated for up to a year. In addition to the investigation, applicants had to provide copies of all of their listing and purchase contracts that demonstrated their business experience, copies of their financial records, and written resumes and letters of recommendation were mandated!
The quality of your listings were also graded. According to charter REALTOR® Dick Tucker, all listings were assessed a grade based on the quality and desirability of the property and it’s listing price.
“Each Tuesday was caravan day and our Appraisal Committee would go to each new listing to rate each with a grade, A, B, C, D or F. An ‘A’ listing was a superior property that was perfectly priced for sale. An ‘F’ listing was priced too high or low and/or of an inferior quality. ” – Richard Tucker Sr.
It is interesting to note that listings receiving an “F Rating” were not allowed in MLS. Notably, if your portfolio of transactions submitted for application rated in the C, D or F range, you had a very long wait until you would be approved for membership.
Advertising Not MLS??
One of the most interesting pieces of the REALTOR® Board’s initial function was not to disseminate listings… the informal group was already doing that, but to advertise as a group. The Board of REALTORS® largest budgetary line item was for daily advertising done on behalf of the membership. In the mid-70’s the Board even went so far as to run an individual advertising biography of each REALTOR® Member in the Berkshire Eagle for one week, each week of the year, going in alphabetical order…. with a total board cost not to exceed $30.00. What a deal! In 2001, it wouldn’t even be possible to highlight a different member, every DAY within a year!
The Staff Begins Shaping the Board
The association changed shape and focus many times over the course of the history, and none so significant with staffing and location changes. Following the veritable Mrs. Smith, Bev Keil was hired on to run the association. She stayed with the Board of REALTORS® until 1986, having moved the office from 20 Elm Street to 17 East Housatonic Street in Pittsfield. It was at that time, that Sue O’Connor was hired as the Executive Officer. Sue joined Joan Campbell, the association bookkeeper, who started out as a REALTOR® volunteer. Joan served as the elected Treasurer of the Association for many years, and decided to accept a permanent position, giving up her real estate position with her family’s firm. Joan’s mother, father and grandfather were all veteran brokers and her grandfather was a pioneer of the association, leading it through the tumultuous beginning days. Real estate was truly in Joan’s blood.
Sue O’Connor led the association for ten years before her untimely passing. She was responsible for bringing the association to a new level of service. The MLS became computerized, the Board began offering professional and educational courses and development opportunities exploded as the Berkshire Board of REALTORS® was transformed into a professionally staffed association. It was at this time that the Board Office moved into the former Pittsfield National Bank building on Wahconah Street in Pittsfield.
Sandy Carroll began her career with the association in 1995 and shortly thereafter moved to 194 Fenn Street. The Board emerged as a strong and thriving trade association, able to compete effectively and serve the Realtors in the Berkshires and beyond. We brought Sue O’Brien into the fold in 1998 to handle the Multiple Listing Service and Stacy Radzick joined us in 2001 to handle billing and general office work. In 2010, the Board office hired Stacy Buhl to replace Stacy Radzick and moved to a new location, 99 West Street, Suite 200 in Pittsfield. In 2013, Molly MacGregor came on board and in February 2014, Kimberly Gritman replaced her to become the newest member of the Board Office staff.
The Board is continually improving our business model to satisfy your business needs. We have transitioned to operating like a business, not an exclusive club and our services are developing every day. I encourage you to call or drop in to speak with the staff if you have suggestions, needs or ideas for the association.
Recognized Far and Wide
The Board, staff and leadership have earned prestigious awards and recognition from the state and national associations over the years as well.
- Nancy Kalodner, Esther Quinn, Debbie Dwyer and Sherry Street all where honored to have been chosen Massachusetts REALTORS of the Year.
- Debbie Dwyer was elected to lead the Massachusetts Assocation of REALTORS as their President in 1994.
- Nancy Kalodner, Debbie Dwyer were elected as National Directors.
- Debbie Dywer, Sherry Street and staff exectuive Sandy Carroll were all awarded the Omega Tau Rho award for service to NAR.
- BerkshireRealtors.org 2011 Outstanding Website Winner by the REALTOR Magazine
Past Presidents of the Berkshire County Board of REALTORS®, Inc.
2000 President Randall
2001-2 President Street
2003 President White
2004 President Sawyer
2005 President Blake
2006 President Melluzzo
2007 President Rose
2008 President Wood
2009 President Forster
2010 President Meczywor
2011 President Mills
2012 President Fish
2013 President Osborne
2014 President McIlquham
2015 President Steve Ray