Real Estate History: Chronical of Trends
1800 - 1959      |       1960 - 1989      |       1990 - TODAY      |       Home
Real Estate History: 1800 - 1959


Baird and Warner is formed.


First local Realtor® Board is formed in Maryland - The Greater Baltimore Board of Realtors®.


The first documented event where agents begin to share property listings in San Diego, California.


The first attempt to start a national real estate association fails.


Plessy v. Fergusonbecomes a landmark United States Supreme Court decision approving racial segregation in public facilities.  In Plessy v. Ferguson, the Supreme Court established the "separate but equal" doctrine for railway travel. The doctrine was soon adapted more broadly to race relations and was used by some real estate practitioners to justify steering homebuyers to certain neighborhoods.


Seventy-five percent (75%) of urban Americans live in rented apartments or flats.


The first ranch homes are built in Pasadena, California.


Colbert Coldwell forms Tucker, Lynch and Coldwell commercial real estate in San Francisco after devastating earthquake. In 1913 Benjamin Arthur Banker joins the company that was later to become Coldwell Banker.


The National Association of Real Estate Exchanges is founded with a mission “to unite the real estate men of America for the purpose of effectively exerting a combined influence upon matters affecting real estate interests.”

The Los Angeles City Council passes the "Residence District Ordinance;" the first major land-use zoning law in the United States.


The Federal Reserve Bank is created.

The National Association of Real Estate Exchanges adopts the first Code of Ethics.

The current income tax system is established by Congress under the Revenue Act of 1913, which includes provisions for the home mortgage interest deduction.

The Federal Reserve System is established to create control and bring better stability to the nation’s banking system.


First long distance telephone service is established between New York and San Francisco.


The National Association of Real Estate Exchanges changes its name to the National Association of Real Estate Boards.

The term Realtor is coined “to identify real estate agents who are members of the National Association of Real Estate Boards and subscribe to its strict Code of Ethics”.

In Brooklyn, NY, Sunset Park is established by Finnish immigrants. It is now the oldest existing co-op in the United States.

New York City becomes the first US city to adopt a comprehensive, citywide zoning law.


In Buchanan v. Warley the US Supreme Court begins to reverse the Plessy v. Ferguson decision of 1896 by outlawing racial segregation ordinances.


The first real estate licensing law is enacted in Michigan.


The University of Michigan grants the first master’s degree in real estate business administration.

In Village of Euclid, Ohio, v. Ambler Realty, the US Supreme Court upholds the right of a municipality to adopt a comprehensive zoning ordinance.

The Florida real estate craze causes one of the greatest real estate crashes in history.


The largest stock market crash sparks the great depression and the collapse of real the estate market.


The Institute of Real Estate Management is founded.


The National Housing Act is enacted, creating the Federal Housing Administration. The mortgage insurance program included in FHA's mission spurs the creation of fixed-rate mortgages.


The Federal National Mortgage Association - now Fannie Mae  - is chartered by the federal government.

The Women’s Council of Realtors is founded.


The Society of Industrial and Office Realtors is founded.


An organization of mostly black real estate professionals, the National Association of Real Estate Brokers (the “Realtists”), is founded.


In Shelley v. Kramer the US Supreme Court decides that racially restrictive covenants aren’t legally enforceable.


The term Realtor® is approved as a registered trademark by the US Patent & Trademark Office.

The first national real estate franchise, Gallery of Homes, is established.

Dale Rector founds Realty Executives in Phoenix, introducing the 100 percent commission concept.

Under the 1949 Housing Act, the federal government undertakes its landmark mission of providing "a decent home and a suitable living environment for every American family".


The International Real Estate Federation (FIABCI) is officially established, although the first meeting with an international presence occurred in 1946.


California Association of Realtors® creates Certified Property Exchanger (CPE).


First America Real Estate Solutions is formed. In 1997 it is sold to First America Corporation and with the 2001 acquisition of TransAmerica’s property business becomes the largest provider of real estate information in Northern America.


In one of the earliest agency disclosure cases, Hughes v. Robbins et. al., an Ohio court decides that a broker can operate in a dual agency capacity but only with the full disclosure and consent of all parties.

Late 1950s

Condos begin appearing after developers bring the idea from Puerto Rico.

This history of the residential real estate brokerage industry was compiled by Stefan Swanepoel, thirteen-time author of real
estate books such as Real Estate confronts Reality (1994), Real Estate confronts the e-Consumer (1999),
Real Estate confronts
the Future
(2004) and the Swanepoel Trends Report (2007). Stefan is CEO of the

RealtyU Group, the largest career development company in the real estate industry.  He blogs regularly at RealBlogging and can be reached via email. To provide updates or corrections to the history complete the online form.  © 2006.