New York brokers organize the first local real estate exchange

APRIL 2007 – In the early 19th Century New York, like much of the country, was rapidly growing. By 1830 it had passed Philadelphia as America’s largest city. Tons of traffic was freighted on the Erie Canal. Railroads fed into the continent and fast trans-Atlantic packet ships sailed for Europe. Banks and jobs flourished and the demand for real estate was high.

In 1847 some of the leading brokers of the city organized the New York Real Estate Exchange at 111 Broadway. NAR historian Pearl Janet Davies suggested that it may have been inspired by the New York Stock Exchange, “but the whole theory of real estate exchange,” she wrote, “had to differ from that of a market for securities or for grain, because of this primary fact: each piece of real estate is unique.”

The exchange would only exist for about a year, leaving a void that would last for a generation. As Davies noted, “This first board exerted a strong influence for good real estate practice. So much was it missed that, says Harpers, ‘For many years, the project of a real estate exchange was discussed.'”

In 1885 another exchange was formed. Later the Board of Real Estate Brokers would become the Real Estate Board of New York, Inc.

(Read Pearl Janet Davies’ account of New York City and the Real Estate Exchange of the 1840s.)