Southwest Louisiana Association of Realtors marks centennial anniversary

Published 9:17 am Wednesday, September 1, 2021

The Southwest Louisiana Association of Realtors celebrated 100 years on Aug. 26. Formerly known as the Calcasieu Board of Realtors, and the Board of Realtors for SW Louisiana, the association has operated continuously since its charter in 1921.

It began with a few local real estate practitioners who decided their mutual interests and those of their clients might be greatly enhanced if realtors would associate and share their knowledge of the industry. Today SWLAR has 753 active members.

The SWLA Association of Realtors is made up of real estate professionals from Cameron, Calcasieu and Jeff Davis parishes, according to board president Tricia Phillips. It also serves areas in Beauregard and Allen.

Phillips said the “R” that real estate agents wear is well recognized and represents a professional with national, state and local networking resources, including the Southwest Louisiana Multiple Listing Service, which is information about properties available throughout the state and information about those properties.

A special centennial presentation highlighted how real estate professionals have banded together to advocate for the community since its inception. For example, members encouraged the decision to leave the Louisiana Baptist Orphanage in Lake Charles. It adopted resolutions approving a deep-water tax during the Calcasieu Parish deep water campaign in 1921. It warned the public of the dangers of buying subdivided land by mail, solely on the basis of advertising solicitation in 1962. More recently they have supported the needs of Abraham’s Tent and been involved in Derby for Dollars and Salvation Army drives.

“Most recently, we’ve helped local schools with back-to-school supplies and gift cards,” Phillips said.  The Southwest Louisiana Association of Realtors has a proud history of cooperation among realtors and real estate companies.”

This cooperation was not only used to advocate for the good of the community, but for the good of those selling and seeking property. Singularly holding listed properties limited exposure and was not in anyone’s best interest.

Long before anyone dreamed of the ease of using a computer to search for available real estate listings, the “multiple system” of listing properties for sale by which the owner gets the benefit of many selling forces in the city instead of just one, was a topic of discussion at a 1927 conference.

Centennial Chairman and past president of the association, Tony Cornner said, “The association has been instrumental in employing many game-changing innovations. Perhaps the greatest was the Multi-Listing System, an all-member combined listings publication, which has morphed from typed lists, to a monthly picture book, to the electronic version of today.”

Homes For Sale from member real estate firms, as Pat Diamond, former president of the association, recalls, “were published weekly in the Lake Charles American Press.”

Past president Mary Kay Hopkins, still has typed, paper lists of available homes from 1976 (no pictures).

“Our industry is evolving rapidly and the Association is doing a remarkable job of keeping pace with the present and preparing for the future,” stated Steve Floyd, a past president.

SWLAR is managed by a volunteer board of Brokers & Realtors.  The current board members are Tricia Phillips, Tonya Meche, Taylor Gagneaux, Melissa Hamilton, Tim Castle, Rebecca Slone, Karen Northcutt, Jackie Myers, Debbie Holt, Josh Foster, Josh Floyd, and Kay Vaughan

“We are indebted to all those Realtor members who have gone before us and given of their time, effort, and money to ensure that the Southwest Louisiana Association of Realtors continues to be an example of how well an industry can cooperate for the good of all,” said Tonya Meche, 2021 pPresident-elect.

Membership in SWLAR is open to all real estate companies and Realtors licensed in Louisiana and doing business in the SW Louisiana market.