Editor’s note: As part of our online special Real Estate Quarterly this month, we asked several longtime employees of Ebby Halliday Companies about the late founder of the real estate firm, which is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year.
Sylvia Sotelo Kidd is the sales manager for Ebby Halliday’s two Rockwall offices, and is a longtime employee of the company. She reminisced about her experiences with the founder of the company, Ebby Halliday, below.
PN: How long have you been working for Ebby?
SSK: “I have worked at Ebby Halliday for 18 years. I started as an agent in Ebby’s Lake Highland’s office and worked there for 10 years. I was then tapped to manage our Rockwall/Heath/Lake Ray Hubbard office. One of the pillars that Ebby promoted was service … Service to the Community. I am the immediate past chair of the Rockwall Chamber of Commerce. And being involved in the Chamber of Commerce as the Chairman of the Board as well as the Chair of Leadership Rockwall has given me the opportunity to serve. We have been awarded by Rockwall as the Chamber’s Choice as for Best Practices in Customer Service. The Rockwall Herald-Banner awarded us the Reader’s Choice Award for the Best Real Estate Firm in Rockwall County. So, we firmly believe in the principals Ebby lived by.”
PN: What are a couple of your favorite memories of Ebby Halliday?
SSK: “I received many handwritten notes throughout the years from Ebby thanking me for my community service. She never let a moment go by without giving you a sweet smile and welcoming you as one of her dearest friends. She cared about everyone who worked at Ebby Halliday and you couldn’t help but realize how fortunate you were to work with such an incredible leader at the No. 1 real estate company. Ebby worked tirelessly; we all wondered if we could have the same stamina she had. She just kept going and never seemed to get tired. And, you can’t forget the cheers she received when she pulled out her ukulele and sang, ‘Happy Days Are Here Again.’ She always lit up a room with her charm.”
PN: How has the business changed since you started working for Ebby?
SSK: “The real estate industry has always been competitive. However, the real estate landscape now has had a steady flow of competitors with different business models. With the pandemic, many of those companies have not been able to keep up and stay in the business. Many have shut down or temporarily stopped doing business. So, in that regard, the key element is and always has been Service to the client. That is the ingredient that Ebby Halliday is famous for. Our acquisition by HomeServices of America, a Berkshire Hathaway affiliate and the nation’s largest real estate brokerage, has been a perfect fit with Ebby’s culture, which is known for high standards, ethics, honesty and service.”
PN: What do you think Ebby would make of what is going on nowadays – first with the increased use of technology in the real estate world, but also selling homes during a major pandemic?
SSK: “Technology has been key to during the pandemic. With the lockdown and social distancing, it was imperative that we looked for ways of providing deliverables to our homeowners as well as our buyers searching for a home. As a company, we were very proactive in putting measures in place to facilitate working with our clients. We conducted virtual open houses, showcased homes virtually on social media platforms and conducted Zoom meetings throughout the company. I believe Ebby would have been proud of the way we have worked in this challenging environment and our continued efforts to best serve our clients without ever missing a beat.
One of Ebby’s famous quotes, ‘I work like a dog and act like a lady,’ truly exemplified the way she lived her life.”