NAME: Ebby Halliday | AGE: 98 | HOMETOWN: Dallas | QUALIFICATIONS: Founded Ebby Halliday Realtors in 1945 / Agency ranked number one in volume among independent residential firms in Texas / First woman to be named Texas Realtor of the Year / Profiled in the new book Ebby Halliday: The First Lady of Real Estate
• I grew up on a farm in Kansas, and when I was eight or nine, I rode on horseback to other farms selling Cloverine Salve. That’s where I first learned the profit motive—I made 5 cents on every can.
• In the early days men ran things. I moved to Dallas in the late thirties, and I asked my dentist for some investment advice. I wanted to be an entrepreneur. I wasn’t sure how to spell it, but I knew I wanted to be it. He told me, “I don’t advise women.” I asked him why, and he said, “Because if they lose, they cry.”
• I made my first sale on some concrete houses on the old Walnut Hill golf course, and two gentlemen came out with shotguns over their shoulders. They had come to hunt rabbits, but they left with two contracts in their pockets. The prices were right: $7,000 for the two-bedroom and $9,000 for the three-bedroom.
• Our first office left a lot to be desired. We had to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. Instead of sales meetings, we had fire drills. But we founded our company on three points of service: service to the client, service to the real estate industry, and service to our communities. And now we have thirty branch offices that cover 12,000 square miles.
• One time an employee called me after her first contract—she was so excited. I said, “Do you have it signed on both ends?” She said, “No.” I said, “Don’t you remember I said to never let the sun go down without having both signatures?” She said, “Well, it’s dark outside.” I told her, “The sun is shining somewhere.”
• I once called the head of the real estate department at the Dallas Morning News and complained that we weren’t getting as much coverage as I thought we deserved. He said, “Ebby, do you want it all?” And I said, “Yes, I do.”
• We have agents who have been with us for forty years, and we have an alumni group for agents who no longer want to work every day. They make referrals to our agents, who give them a referral fee. That way we’re really keeping people until the grave.
• A few years ago one of our agents asked me to help arrange a onetime showing for a home now owned by Harlan Crow. I made the call, and the housekeeper said the lady wasn’t in. I asked to have her call Ebby Halliday, and the woman replied, “Lord, is she still alive?”