Nancy Hubble loves gourmet cooking, renovating old homes and collecting portraits of Napoleon. She delves into politics and tours old Baltimore mansions for fun.
And guided by a small, lavender leather calendar and daily "to do" lists, she's been a whirlwind in the local real estate industry.
"She's very 'Type A'. Rumination doesn't exist in her vocabulary," says Karen Hubble Bisbee, Mrs. Hubble's ebullient 34-year-old daughter and real estate colleague.
But some of her hobbies will likely have to be put on hold, as she takes over as president of the Greater Baltimore Board of Realtors, which represents 4,200 real estate professionals. She was installed Wednesday at the board's annual convention.
The board has just started a new weekly newspaper, is broadening ownership of its main marketing tool, the Multiple Listing Service, and is grappling with a host of other issues that could change the way homes are bought and sold.
"When I entered real estate in 1957, the sales contracts were a page in length. Now, we measure them in inches," jokes Mrs. Hubble, a 55-year-old principal of W.H.C. Wilson & Co., the Roland Park-based real estate brokerage. The difference these days: contract provisions on issues ranging from radon to home inspections.
Among the other concerns of Realtors: Maryland's high closing costs, the education of real estate agents and the advent of buyers' brokers and dual agents. Dual agents can represent both buyer and seller, presuming both are given full disclosure.
Many of these issues will be resolved in the state legislature, where real estate professionals say Mrs. Hubble will be effective.
"She moves very fluidly in political circles and can easily approach politicians on issues affecting real estate. Annapolis is like a second home to her during the legislative session," says Gail Briscoe Wilson, sales manager for Otis Warren Real Estate Services, a Northwest Baltimore County firm.
Mrs. Hubble entered the real estate business in 1957, two years after she married into the Hubble family -- which had already been in the business for four decades. She joined her father-in-law's Baltimore-based firm, L. L. Hubble, which specialized in the sale of farms and estates throughout Maryland.
In 1959, she launched her own residential sales boutique -- known simply as "The Hubble Company." The firm, with as many as 35 agents at one point, was a powerful force in such Baltimore neighborhoods as Charles Village, Roland Park, Homeland and Guilford.
Although the firm thrived, Mrs. Hubble decided to merge with the well-established W.H.C. Wilson Co. in November 1991. The idea was to spend more time selling homes, her first love, and less time managing the business.
"I always thought the merger of Nancy's firm into Wilson was a natural," said Arthur Davis III, the newly elected president of the Maryland Association of Realtors and head of another Roland Park firm, Chase Fitzgerald & Co. Inc. Although Mrs. Hubble's firm was strong in the north-central neighborhoods of Baltimore City, Wilson was stronger in the central swath of Baltimore County to the Pennsylvania line, he said.
The most devastating event to hit Mrs. Hubble came in 1979 when her 23-year-old son, John, was killed in a motorcycle accident in downtown Baltimore. In the years since the accident, Mrs. Hubble says, she dealt with her grief by throwing herself into her work with "more vigor and fierceness."
The death of the young Mr. Hubble -- who had been expected one day to take over the family business -- also changed the career plans of his sister. An art history major in college, Mrs. Hubble Bisbee set aside plans to become a museum curator in order to join her mother's firm.
For the last four years, the women have worked as a team, sharing home listings. Initially, the arrangement was designed to give Mrs. Hubble Bisbee, who was pregnant, more flexibility in managing her work. But the two women have found the team concept a perfect fit.
"We're exactly alike," Mrs. Hubble Bisbee says.
Both women are known for their energetic, bubbly personalities. Both get excited about the houses they list -- especially grand, older properties with high ceilings. And both are history buffs who love antique furniture.
Mrs. Hubble has collected Napoleonic antiquities for 30 years -- including letter holders, coins, statues and 50 prints from different stages of the French emperor's life.
"Napoleon was a brilliant strategist and he lived at a very romantic time in history," she said.
Married for 38 years to John Delaney Hubble, a real estate developer and condominium converter, Mrs. Hubble and her husband share a love for the renovation of fine old homes. Together, they have owned 15 homes -- most of them in the city neighborhoods of Guilford and Roland Park.
But four months ago, the couple -- anxious for an in-ground pool and a little more space to stretch out -- moved to their first Baltimore County home, a Williamsburg Colonial tucked away on a woodsy 2 1/2 -acre lot a couple of miles off Falls Road in Lutherville.
Currently, Mrs. Hubble is overseeing the renovation of the 10-year-old property -- including installation of a virtually all-white kitchen, where she'll be able to make her specialty, crab imperial. The home also will feature extensive built-in cabinetry, a double garage and English gardens.
She says simply, "I love people and I love houses, too."