The precursor to NAR: A National Association in Nashville

ThisMonth0703MARCH 2007 – In 1892, sixteen years before NAR was born, over 800 men gathered in Nashville to organize a national association of real estate men. J. C. Bartholf,, editor of Milwaukee’s Real Estate News, predicted the meeting would be “the forerunner of a permanent and powerful organization of the almost measureless real estate interests of the republic.”

The National Real Estate Association’s constitution called for “a central body of reference” for its members, and to “preserve and disseminate valuable information appertaining to real estate.” They also wanted “to influence and direct legislation in reference to laws touching the transfer of realty.” Not least was the goal “to establish a high standard of ethics among real estate men.”

Later that year 1,500 agents gathered for a second meeting in Buffalo, but the NREA’s delegates refused to approve hiring paid staff. The financial panic of 1893 caused a real estate depression that lasted into the 20th Century and ended any hope of the young association’s survival. Not until 1907 would real estate agents try again to organize nationally. “In the meantime” NAR Vice President R. Bruce Douglas would recall, “there was no organization to formulate ethics or form rules of conduct or to gather together information on how to run a real estate business.”