Real estate is a family affair for Leslie Rouda Smith, as she, her husband, and their two children are all Dave Perry-Miller associates. But Leslie’s interest in Realtors extends beyond her own household.
Through her leadership of Realtors associations at the local, state, and national levels, she has adopted an extended network of real estate professionals, looking out for their best interests as if they were members of her family.
On Tuesday, voters in Texas and across the nation will elect new legislators, governors, and members of Congress. And when those officials take office, they’ll be hearing from Leslie and her colleagues.
Lobbyists for the Texas Association of Realtors and the National Association of Realtors read thousands of bills to look for things affecting private-property rights and homeownership. The Texas association has also lobbied against taxes on services — such as Realtors’ commissions — among many other issues.
“We’ve saved the average Realtor tens of thousands of dollars in ways they never aware of,” Leslie says.
Only 30 percent of Realtors donate to the Realtors Political Action Committee, the only federal PAC that lobbies solely for private-property rights in homeownership. But, Leslie says, 100 percent of them reap the benefits.
“If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu,” she says of the lobbying efforts. “Unfortunately, we’re at the table at all levels, but we’re still on the menu. That’s just the world we live in.”
Leslie’s involvement in Realtors associations comes naturally. The Ohio native’s late father, Harley E. Rouda Sr., was the president of the National Association of Realtors in 1991. (He also served as president of the Ohio Association of Realtors and the Columbus Board of Realtors.)
After moving to Texas in the 1980s, Leslie got a job in the relocation division of Ebby Halliday Realtors. It was there — literally at the corporate headquarters on Sigma Road — that she met Brian Smith, during an “Ebby School” coffee break. Three years ago, the couple’s children – Kristin Smith and Austin Smith – graduated from the same course.
Leslie rarely lists a property in her own name, opting for a behind-the-scenes role in the family business. But, through her leadership positions, she also plays a behind-the-scenes role in thousands of Realtors’ businesses. Her contributions led the Texas Association of Realtors to honor her with a Distinguished Service Award in September. Only one or two of these are doled out each year; recipients must have made significant industry contributions throughout their career and are also judged on their participation in local activities and civic organizations.
“I love the people I meet,” Leslie says of her work with the Realtors associations. “I love what I learn, and I love helping people.”
This is one in a series of articles about interesting aspects of our associates’ lives. The previous installment was about J.L. Forke’s work with Stand Up 2 Cancer.