Welcome to the OMCAR blog, a brand-new resource for our members and our community created in celebration of our Association’s 100th anniversary. In this space we’ll work to provide information and stories that aim to educate, keep everyone up-to-date, and occasionally, just entertain! For our first entry, let’s take a look back at the birth of OMCAR – and celebrate how far we’ve come.
The year is 1922. America is at peace after the devastation of World War I. The Roaring Twenties are just getting underway, and everybody is learning the Charleston and the Lindy Hop as the Jazz Age takes hold. Families are glued to their radios every evening, enjoying the newfangled invention that’s only recently become a household staple, and flock to theaters to see Charlie Chaplin on the big screen in silent films. Women have just won the right to vote, and cars are starting to replace horses as the country’s main mode of transportation. It’s a period of hope and prosperity for Americans – and here in Ocala, the Board of Directors has just chartered the Marion County Real Estate Exchange, marking the start of what would evolve into our own Ocala/Marion County Association of REALTORS® (OMCAR).
A century later, OMCAR has evolved into the trusted voice of real estate for North Central Florida. More than 2,000 members strong, OMCAR provides the tools, training and advocacy they need to lead passionate, productive, lifelong careers, while harnessing the power of our profession to create a positive impact within our community. This spring we marked a century of service to our members and our community with a Centennial Birthday Celebration lunch featuring past presidents’ remarks on their tenure.
“What an amazing day!” said President Virginia Wright. “We’re so proud of this Association and all its REALTOR® members. It was wonderful to get together and celebrate our past leaders, and look forward to the future of our association. Our members are the heart of our organization, and we owe that success to them and to the progressive leadership of our past presidents, committees and board of directors.”
That Was Then
What was it like to be a REALTOR® in 1922? In some ways, not that different. Buyers were still interested in things like oak floors, good schools and of course, location, location, location. That said, they also got excited about things we now take for granted – indoor plumbing and electricity, for instance. As late as 1940, a third of American homes still lacked a flush toilet, and hot water was a luxury. Houses were much smaller, and asbestos shingles were a selling point due to their “fireproof” qualities. Similar to today, there was a housing shortage, and they found a unique fix: Sears Roebuck & Co began selling build-your-own kit houses – about 75,000 of them over 30 years. The average cost of a house in the 1920s was $6,296 – about $77,339 in today’s dollars.
The buying process itself was very different. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the protections that are now in place didn’t exist yet. The 30-year mortgage wasn’t established until the creation of the Federal Housing Administration in 1934. There were no inspections and no requirements for sellers to disclose problems in the house. There were also no buying agents – it wasn’t unusual for the buyer’s broker to also serve as their insurance agent, appraiser, lender or even their builder. The primary marketing vehicle was a brief ad in the classified section, so Realtors® turned to guerilla marketing, networking at every community gathering and handing out branded items like rulers and pencils.
Here in Florida, the 1920s were considered a land boom – our first real estate bubble. America was enamored with the idea of life in the Sunshine State, and much like today, they moved here in droves. In 1926, the Marion County Real Estate Exchange became the Ocala Real Estate Exchange; and in 1933, we hosted the 17th annual convention of the Florida Association of Real Estate Boards at the Marion Hotel, which was new at the time and will soon be restored to its former glory. The convention drew more than 125 Realtors and non-members from all over the state and featured then-Governor David Sholtz as keynote speaker at the event’s President’s Banquet – clear evidence of the influence our organization already held.
The National Real Estate Journal featured an article about the convention and waxed eloquent about the local group’s planning efforts:
“Ocala Realtors have been untiring in furnishing entertainment to the delegates of the 17th annual convention. Beginning with a buffet supper and dance on Friday, something was doing every moment for everyone … the delegates were given a complimentary luncheon out of doors at Silver Springs, five miles from here, where a special fish chowder for which the chef is famous was served under palmetto thatches. After lunch the delegates were taken for a trip in the glass bottom boats … Decorations for the president’s banquet were most artistic, consisting of yellow chrysanthemums in large baskets, and branches of golden kumquat fruit surrounding silver candlesticks with yellow candles.”
This Is Now
Not much has changed in that respect … OMCAR still loves a good chance to get together and support one another and our community, and we’re still incredibly proud of this beautiful place we’re lucky to call home.
In 1941, the Board of Directors approved a name change to the Ocala Board of REALTORS®, marking the first adoption of the official trademark term. And in 1990 we officially became the Ocala/Marion County Association of REALTORS®.
Times have surely changed, but many things remain the same: we’re still the trusted voice of real estate in North Central Florida and we’re still investing, elevating and advocating for the more than 2,000 members who call Ocala/Marion County home. We still serve buyers and sellers through educational resources, and our members’ commitment to the REALTORS® Code of Ethics and continuing education opportunities. We work to ensure North Central Florida’s REALTORS® are among the best in their profession, striving to serve their clients with integrity and innovation. In more ways than one, our organization is dedicated to the advancement of our members and surrounding communities. We are proud of our rich history of deep involvement in the Ocala/Marion County community. From our “Stuff the Bus” program that provides local children with everything they need to go back to school, to our ongoing partnership with Hillcrest School, every year our members raise thousands of dollars and donate hundreds of volunteer hours in support of worthy local organizations.
Although much of real estate has become digitized as technology continues to advance, OMCAR retains the same spirit as day one. We’re proud and excited to continue this journey with you; here’s to the next 100 years!