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December 4, 2017 Newsmakers

Q&A with Holly Callanan, incoming CEO, Greater Hartford Association of Realtors

Holly Callanan

You won't see Holly Callanan showing houses, but she will be representing a lot of people who do when she takes over Dec. 11 as the new CEO of the Greater Hartford Association of Realtors (GHAR).

GHAR has 614 Realtor offices and 4,100 members. You could say Callanan has upsized her work home, a challenge she readied for during a four-year stint as CEO of the Ridgefield Board of Realtors, which has 300 Realtor members, 40 affiliate members and 20 member offices, all based in Ridgefield.

Callanan has always been interested in the industry — her first job was in mortgage lending — but in real estate, she has worked on the association management side. Callanan, who holds a Realtor Certified Executive (RCE) designation, said she has focused on serving members and creating programs and education to benefit Realtors. Among her roles, she'll work with members and volunteer leaders and be responsible for all GHAR programs and services, and she plans to create relationships with community leaders to help create positive change for communities in Greater Hartford.

What's the biggest challenge you face in your new job?

Getting elected officials to recognize the power of the Realtor, helping them understand we represent homeowners, small-business owners and many individuals related to the real estate industry. We are the voice of real estate and work hard to protect the industry and the rights of homeowners in Connecticut.

What's the biggest opportunity you face in your new job?

Helping our members understand the importance of their role in the community. Realtors can be an influential group and they need to know that they have the power to effect change in this state.

What's your take on the health of the Greater Hartford residential real estate market?

It depends on the town. Towns have characteristics that drive the market. Consumers are looking for specific traits, they are more picky. They want things like a walkable downtown or 2-acre zoning. Some towns fit that bill, some don't. I think the Greater Hartford market is strong and diverse enough to please every buyer.

How would you describe the competitive landscape among Realtors or real estate agencies in Greater Hartford?

Competition is healthy. It makes individuals strive to be their best. If my members are competing with each other in these tough times, it means the consumer wins.

Tell us something about you many people don't know.

I was a small-business owner from 2004 to 2014. I built Sycamore Stationers, a home-based stationery business in Ridgefield, from the ground up. I produced stationery and invitations for individual and corporate customers who wanted specialized attention to detail. It made me realize the value of customer service.

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