When Karla Roberts notified the National Association of Realtors (NAR) that she’d be retiring at the end of this year, they told her she’d been with the NAR family for 37 years.
“I didn’t need to hear that,” Roberts said. “That’s a bit of a shock.”
Her career with real estate began in 1980 as a sales agent in Illinois.
In 1982, she landed her first association executive position, allowing her to transition out of selling homes herself.
“The last house I helped someone buy, I took them in for their financing and it was so long ago that it was a savings and loan, which we don’t even have any more,” Roberts said.
“They quoted him 18.75 percent interest on the transaction. That’s what the rates were back then in the early ‘80s.”
In 1986 she got her broker’s license and in 1997 she tested for and earned the National Association of Realtors RCE (Realtors Certified Executive) designation.
After working as the association executive for two local associations in Illinois, she was hired in June 2002, by the Prescott Area Association of Realtors.
Like the 18 other local associations in Arizona, PAAR, a not-for-profit, provides its members with a local multiple listing service, educational opportunities and leadership training seminars.
Though not required, real estate agents may join a local association such as PAAR to claim the title of Realtor. When someone becomes a Realtor, they agree to abide by the NAR code of ethics. The membership at PAAR currently sits at about 1,500.
As PAAR’s executive, Roberts manages everything related to its operation, including disseminating decisions made by the national, state or local boards of directors.
Roberts has always challenged herself with continued education. She is particularly proud of two association management designations she earned through rigorous testing. The first one was from RCE in 1997 and the second came from the American Society of Association Executives in 2006.
“We encourage the Realtor members to get those designations, so we need to do the same,” Roberts said.
Roberts is also proud of where she has taken PAAR.
“Operating procedures here are so much better than what they were when I got here, and that’s been a challenge,” Roberts said. “We’ve kept the dues the same price, but we’ve increased our services with a whole lot more education.”
Now 74 years old, Roberts is finally allowing herself to stop working.
“Believe me, I’m ready,” Roberts said.
Taking over her position is Amanda Creel, an experienced association executive from Alabama.
“She’s younger, more energetic and inspired,” Roberts said.
Creel will step into the role on Dec. 1. Roberts will help with the transition for the first week or so and then high-tail it out of there.
“I’m looking forward to just having more time with family and friends,” she said.
At the same time, Roberts said she will dearly miss all of the people she has had the pleasure of working with over the years.
“It’s hard to say goodbye,” Roberts said, holding back tears.
“Karla has had a long and successful career at the association,” said PAAR President Leann Carver. “She has worked tirelessly on behalf of the association and we will be sad to see her retire.”
Going forward, Roberts hopes to see the association continue to grow.
That may entail PAAR contracting with an external entity that can handle the association’s MLS system offering — something the association has seriously considered in the recent past.
It may also entail physical growth.
“We do need a bigger classroom, but I’m not going to get it while I’m here,” Roberts said.