Harley E. Rouda, Sr.

President of the National Association of REALTORS® - 1991

Harley E. Rouda, Sr.* served as president of the National Association in 1991, the year that NAR launched its push to have state associations make property condition disclosures mandatory. He led REALTORS® through a year of transition for the association and the industry. Some of those changes -- such as median existing home prices topping six figures for the first time -- were positive, and others -- such as NAR’s membership numbers dropping nearly 50,000 in a recession year -- were not.

During his presidency, the Appraisal Institute -- formerly part of NAR -- became an independent institution, and NAR made major forays into international real estate with the creation of its Global division and the Eastern European Real Property Foundation. The latter organization, formed to promote property rights in former Communist-bloc nations in Eastern Europe, continues today as the International Real Property Foundation.

Well after his presidency, Rouda stayed involved in the association. A REALTOR® Emeritus, he attended every REALTORS® Conference & Expo until the 2010 event in New Orleans. Additionally, he was one of only a few people who have thus far donated more than $100,000 to the REALTORS® Political Action Committee (RPAC). He coined the phrase, “If real estate is your career, then politics is your business,” says his daughter Leslie Rouda Smith, the 2012 NAR vice president and liaison to committees.

Born in Toronto, Ontario, Rouda served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War and began his real estate career with the Ralph Greer agency in Ohio. He started his real estate business, Harley E. Rouda (HER), REALTORS®, in 1956 in the basement of his Columbus home. It was the largest brokerage in the region by 1964, and eventually grew to be one of the largest independent brokerages in the United States. The company is currently headed by Rouda’s son, Harley Rouda, Jr.

A graduate of Ohio State University, Rouda served as a member of the board of trustees of the Ohio Association of REALTORS® for 20 years, and as president in 1986.  He also served on numerous committees at the state level and chaired the Education, Finance, and Nominating committees. He was president of the Columbus Board of REALTORS® in 1969.

Rouda earned a national reputation as one of the real estate industry’s great innovators and pioneers. He was also famous in Ohio for his homemade jams and HER company cookbooks, and was an active fisherman, tennis player, and softball player.

Source: National Association of REALTORS® Archives.

* Deceased