Ebby and M.L.S. Enter the Computer Age

Ebby Halliday Realtors, Inc. was operating for eight years when Ebby opened her second office at 8117 Preston Road on December 13, 1953. It was during this time that Ebby became an early adopter of the multiple listing service (M.L.S.) organized by the Dallas Realtor Board and was one of the brokers to handle the first home sale by the Dallas M.L.S. She recognized the benefits the system offered to realtors, buyers and sellers by sharing properties for sale across real estate companies. It allowed buyers access to the complete selection of properties available for sale and opening to sellers a wider market of buyers, all for one commission payment. The early M.L.S system was a “display book”, a binder with typed pages and later photos of houses were added.

Ebby and her company employed the M.L.S. system to the fullest extent and at the 1956 Dallas Real Estate Board luncheon Chairman Bob Hardy reported Ebby Halliday Realtors Inc. to be one of the top three firms with the most M.L.S. cooperative transactions.

Dallas Morning News, February 7, 1958

During the 1960s, Ebby was setting records in real estate, both in sales and by volume each year. In 1970, the company earned $51 million dollars in gross sales. This tremendous growth and success Ebby attributed to well trained agents and M.L.S and led her to open her eighth office in 1973 in Plano, Texas. 

Ebby approached new technologies as opportunities to better serve her customers. At a Dallas M.L.S. meeting in 1973, she said, “Technology has changed our way of marketing real estate for the better–computers, copiers, telephone systems, car telephones, fax machines and laser desktop printers. Fabulous developments making for better and quicker service to buyers and sellers and fast and accurate communication between ourselves.”

Dallas Morning News, September 27, 1970
Dallas Morning News, September 18, 1972

Around this time, the M.L.S system had transformed into a centralized database system called “RCS-Realtron ”, which was accessed via phone or “teletype machine linked with a computer’s memory”. By the early 1970s, Ebby had one of these computers in each of her offices, enabling her staff to “work around the clock for the client”. 

Ebby became renowned for her mastery of the M.L.S system and was invited to speak on her success at local M.L.S. meetings. Her collection of M.L.S speeches range from 1966 – 2002.  

Project archivist Krishna Shenoy will be working on processing the Ebby Halliday papers thanks to a generous gift of the Ebby Halliday Foundation, to preserve and make accessible the work of the first lady of real estate.

Contact degolyer@smu.edu for additional information or assistance with accessing the collections. For access to these collections or to learn more about the women of the southwest, be sure to visit the DeGolyer Library and check out our books, manuscripts, pamphlets, and photographs.