Kathleen E. Condon grew up in a Boston family of six girls, all of whom were raised to believe there were no barriers to them, whatever careers they chose.
“My dad always told us we could do anything we wanted to,” she recalled.
The confidence instilled in her by her father, Jack, a pressman at the Boston Herald-Traveler, has helped Condon establish a successful career in the real estate industry.
She started out working part time in a real estate office in Dorchester Lower Mills when she was in high school, and then landed a job with the Greater Boston Real Estate Board after college. Now, she heads MLS Property Information Network, the largest MLS in New England, and one of the top 10 in the nation.
MLS PIN’s core area extends from the Bourne Bridge to the Berkshires, with additional subscribers on Cape Cod, Connecticut, New Hampshire and Rhode Island.
As MLS PIN’s president and chief executive, Condon oversees an online operation with 28,000 subscribers, 58,450 listings and a reputation as a technological powerhouse.
The real estate business has been a part of her life since high school. At her part-time gig, Condon kept busy, she recalled, “cutting FSBO ads out of the newspaper, sweeping the floor, answering the phone – doing anything a part-time high school student could do.”
Condon graduated from Fitchburg State University in 1977 with a degree in education. But, as she recalled, “Proposition 2 ½ happened, and there were no teaching jobs to be had in the commonwealth of Massachusetts.”
Her mother, Jeannette, a real estate broker, saw an ad for a clerical assistant with the Greater Boston Real Estate Board MLS. Condon got the job, partly because of her good penmanship.
All the listing information was hand-recorded in a large office journal.
“That was one of the reasons I was hired – because of my beautiful penmanship,” Condon said. “I had to take a spelling test and a penmanship test.”
Initially, the listings were sent out to brokers on 8.5 inch by 5.5 inch mimeographed sheets, and then mailed out in zones to the brokerages twice a week.
“In April 1978, when we put in the first semi-computerized system, we had a book that was published, and signed by all of the directors at that time,” she said. “The book held nine ads on each page. And we just thought we were so cutting-edge.”
Condon helped transition the listings to an online system, and rose to the position of managing director. When the Greater Boston Real Estate Board was sold in 1997 to MLS PIN, Condon was hired as director of operations, and named CEO a few months later.
Always Been Inquisitive
Condon has helped the MLS develop its own software for maintaining listings. The company, which does all its own IT, is unveiling a new version of the software this year.
“We’re adding new functionality, and new bells and whistles to the technology,” she said. For example, customers will be able to comment on houses they see in the listings, in a private dialogue with their agent.
“I’ve always been an inquisitive person,” she said. “And I try to stay up on things, but we have a development staff here; we have an extremely responsive customer support staff. We have four people that are out on the road all the time, visiting the offices, training people on the new things, training new agents and then coming back with all the feedback.”
Under her management, MLS PIN’s customer service base of real estate professionals has grown from 11,000 to 28,000. And although it’s down about 6 percent in the past three years, “We’ve pretty much been stable,” Condon said.
MLS PIN, which is privately owned by Realtor/brokers, employs about 50.