The “History Room” of Allen Realtors’ office in Lakewood is stocked with mementos and reminders of the company’s deep roots in the South Sound.
There’s the black-and-white photo of its original location in Downtown Tacoma, where Harold Allen Sr., established the company on Oct. 1, 1940 under the banner of “Allen’s Finer Homes.” In another picture – the small Lakewood branch the company opened eight years later. Patterned among the pictures are recognitions from groups like the Washington Association of Realtors, “thank you” letters and other reminders that Allen Realtors has been in Lakewood since shortly after the end of World War II.
One face sticks out more than others in the company’s historical exhibit – that of Harold Allen Jr. After attending Stanford University, enlisting in the Navy and serving in the war, Allen Jr., joined the company in 1946 and took over management duties three years later. It was Allen Jr., who recognized the future of Lakewood and suburban Tacoma.
“Harold Allen Jr., was the face of the company for seven different decades,” explains President/Designated Broker Mike Larson, who’s also Allen Jr.’s son-in-law.
What exactly happened? Allen Realtors became one of the most successful and longest-running realty companies in the South Sound. On Oct. 1, 2015, Allen Realtors will celebrate its 75th anniversary. It has created a legacy built on its strong relationships – both with customers and the company’s employees who cater to them.
It also the reason the City of Lakewood is proud to recognize Allen Realtors – a Lakewood institution as much as its distinctive red and white signs – as the City’s Business Showcase.
Within a few years of Harold Allen Sr., establishing the company in Tacoma, it was already recognized as an industry leader. In 1945, however, the company’s namesake passed away. His widow, Martha Albertson Allen, was in charge of the company.
At that point, Harold Allen Jr., the oldest son, decided to return home to work direct sales before taking over management. A few years later, the company made one of its milestone decisions by moving from urban Tacoma to suburban Lakewood.
“Lakewood, at the time, was still the place you went to vacation,” Larson recalls. “It was good foresight on Harold Allen Jr.’s part to recognize that the market would be shifting to here … I would say our bread and butter has always been Southwest Pierce County.”
In 1953, Allen Realtors moved into its current (and iconic) location on Gravelly Lake Drive. It has been part of the Lakewood landscape for six decades, as have many of the tens of thousands of properties that have passed through the company’s friendly hands.
Look around Lakewood and you’ll see them. Homes and mansions on Gravelly Lake. Smaller homes for military families.
The Oakbrook neighborhood? “Harold Allen Jr., is largely responsible for brokering the deal to acquire the land,” his son-in-law said.
The company manages 500 or so rental units – work that “kind of floated our boats during the tough times five years ago.”
“We are proud that we have survived, literally, half a dozen housing busts,” he said.
Harold Allen Jr., also became an industry leader in Lakewood and beyond. Over the years, he had appointed State of Washington's Real Estate Commissioner (the youngest in state history), served as President of Washington Association of Realtors, two-term President of Tacoma-Pierce County Association of Realtors and two-term Director of the National Association of Realtors. .
At 72, Allen Jr., earned the Realtor Emeritus Award in recognition of 50 years as a Realtor, and 10 years later was recognized for 60 years of distinguished service by Tacoma-Pierce County Association of Realtors.
In 1997, after some 50 years of managing the company, Harold Allen Jr., handed those duties over to Larson. Fifteen years later, Harold Allen Jr., passed away.
“A lot of his name is here. A big part of who we are is community relations, industry relations and giving back,” Larson said. “His thumbprint is the largest of what has happened here.”
More Than Sales
|The City of Lakewood thanks Allen Realtors for being a great business in our community|
Operating a successful business for 75 years is about more than home sales, managing properties and adhering to the bottom line.
Bigger to Allen Realtors’ longevity is its relationships in Lakewood and beyond.
“We have had people who said, ‘My grandparents bought a home from you, my parents bought a home from you, and they said I should buy a home from you,’” Larson said. “People appreciate and share with their family and friends, hopefully, when they feel you’ve been treated right.”
“If there’s any doubt with what way we should go, I’m always leaning toward helping the person,” he added.
Another ingredient to its success is its team of 30 brokers and four full-time employees that work for customers. “Clearly, the underlying ingredient the past 75 years is the people who work here. We are one big family. There is no pretense. If you’re new, people will jump in and help.”
Come Oct. 1, Allen Realtors’ will celebrate 75 years’ worth of success with past, present and most likely future friends, colleagues and customers during a community open house. The best part? They’ll be celebrating in Lakewood, where almost all of its history took place.
“Lakewood is where we’ve been almost all of our 75 years, and that’s not by coincidence,” Larson said. “We love it here. Our headquarters are always going to be in Lakewood.”
Allen Realtors is located at 9805 Gravelly Lake Dr. SW, Lakewood. Learn more about this iconic Lakewood company by visiting haroldallen.com.