Ken Libby, the broker/owner of Stowe Area Realty Group, Keller Williams Vermont-Stowe, has received the National Association of Realtors’ 2019 Distinguished Service Award. The honor is presented yearly to no more than two of NAR’s 1.4 million members. Winners were recognized at the NAR’s annual conference in San Francisco. Williams is only the second Vermonter to receive this award.
“I’m incredibly honored to have been selected to join the highly qualified individuals who have come before me. The award is recognition for continuous service to our industry. It signifies that my peers have recognized this effort, and for that I am most proud,” Libby said.
NAR established the award in 1979. It is the highest honor an NAR member can receive.
Libby, who is entering his 41st year in real estate, has lived through boom and bust. Concerning the crash of 2008 he said: “Needless to say all business was impacted. Stowe was no different than the rest of Vermont. We learned how to handle foreclosure sales and short sales, which were new to the market at that time.”
The market is strong now, at least in Stowe, he said.
“In general, the market is strong still in our area, but that is not true in every section of Vermont. The biggest challenge is the lack of inventory across the state. This is caused by a number of factors, but a major factor is the many years of limited construction of new homes. The new inventory historically has allowed folks approaching middle age to step up out of their starter homes to a larger one. This lack of mobility creates a lack of homes available for first-time home buyers to find something they can afford,” he said.
“One of my agents is a developer, and the biggest obstacle he faces is the restrictions within Act 250 that limit the number of homes he can build over a five-year period without going through the major permitting process of Act 250.” The rule, he said, can “push construction costs out of the affordable category.”
“Locally, there is discussion about the energy rating of homes at the time of sale. We are concerned that this could unfairly stigmatizes many of our older homes that may not be able to meet today’s green-energy requirements,” he said.
At the national level, one of the biggest concerns is the future of Fanny Mae & Freddy Mac, which were created by Congress to provide liquidity, stability and affordability to the mortgage market.
“These entities are critical to the 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage program, so (they) must survive in some form as Congress looks to revamp their structure,” he said.
Libby grew up in Freeport, Maine, and moved to Stowe in 1968. He was the Stowe chief of police from 1969 to 1976 and again from 1982 to 1992. In 1975 he was hired as director of the Vermont League of Cities & Towns’ Law Enforcement Technical Assistance Project. The project’s focus was writing policy-and-procedures manuals, organizing record-keeping systems, developing the first computerized incident-based reporting system in the country, and assisting 38 local and county departments to modernize their offices and practices.
Libby joined the Marines in 1956, and was a member of the White House presidential guard under President Eisenhower at Camp David and at the summer White House in Newport, Rhode Island.
“Ike spent the fall of 1958 and 1960 at the summer White House in Newport. In 1960 I was assigned to a desk in his office when on duty. I have a photo of myself, Ike and General Lewis Norstad, the commander of NATO, on the wall at home. I also spent a fair amount of time on security for Jackie Kennedy after President Kennedy died. She lived in Georgetown for about eighteen months, and I was stationed in Georgetown at that time,” he said.
Libby was a member of the Marine Corps Silent Drill Team and Burial Detail at Arlington National Cemetery. He served as a police officer in Washington, D.C., for seven years and was the executive director for the Vermont Sheriff’s Association from 1994 to 2005. Additionally, he was president of the Green Mountain Council of the Boy Scouts of America, where he continues to serve as past president and vice president of development.
Libby has held numerous leadership positions with NAR, including Region One vice president, (Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont). He served on the Executive Committee from 2010 to 2013 and as a liaison to the Global & Resort and 2nd Homes Committees and was also Realtor RPAC trustee in 2009 and chaired the Commercial Leadership Forum in 2008.
In Vermont, he served on the Vermont Commercial Investment Board of Realtors from 2000 and 2003 and on the Vermont Association of Realtors (VAR) Executive Committee and Board of Directors from 2006 to 2012. He has the unique distinction of being named president of the VAR twice, first in 2003 and again in 2016, while also being awarded the VAR Realtor of the Year twice, in 2007 and 2012.
Libby coached Stowe High School softball for seven years and Stowe’s 13 to 15-year-old Little League team for over 20 years. During that time the Stowe High School won two state championships, and the Lamoille County All-Stars won 10 straight Vermont championships and played in the New England Regionals for the national tournament in Michigan. He also coached basketball for Stowe’s middle school level, junior varsity and varsity.