Duluth meeting sets stage for the founding of the National Association

ThisMonth0607JUNE 2007 – In the summer of 1907 members of seven Midwestern real estate boards gathered in Duluth, Minnesota, where Edward S. Judd, soft-spoken President of the Chicago Board, suggested forming a national real estate association. A century later that idea is known as the National Association of REALTORS®.

Hearing Judd’s speech were members of boards from Chicago, St. Louis, St. Paul, Minneapolis, Milwaukee, and Superior, all having accepted the Duluth Board’s invitation for a banquet and tour. A year later twenty real estate exchanges, inspired by Judd’s words, gathered in Chicago for the first convention of the National Association of Real Estate Exchanges. The Association’s 100th annual convention will be held in Las Vegas in November.

Much of Judd’s 1907 speech is transcribed below:

“I wish to call your attention to the possible desirability of the formation of state, interstate and national organizations of real estate men. If the idea of a national organization – or even a Central West organization- should meet with the approval of the seven associations here represented and of such other organizations as might care to join in the movement, it may be possible to have a gathering at, say Chicago, another year.

“Such a meeting might result in ultimate good to the individual members of the different organizations and to the thousands of men actively engaged in the real estate business throughout the United States.

“There is a movement on foot looking to the formation of such association. When the Real Estate Association of Portland, Maine, attempted to have a convention of real estate men from all over the United States in that city last month, the replies to their invitation indicated a marked interest in the national organization idea. But the distance to Portland was given as a reason for many of the organizations not attempting to send delegates.

“The Portland people have now taken up the matter of formation of a state organization for Maine, and suggest that some city centrally located take up the matter of a national organization.

“…At a gathering of real estate men from different cities and states such matters might be discussed as advertising both in newspapers and by circulars and signs. The handling of real estate by exclusive agency to the benefit of seller, buyer and agent might well be discussed.

“Questions of state legislation affecting the interest of real estate dealers could be looked into; as, for example, the measure before the last legislature of the state of Illinois requiring an agreement to pay commissions to be in writing to entitle the agent to collect, a burden which is not required of any other class of brokers, and which bill was, thanks to the efforts of the Chicago Real Estate Board, defeated. The question of licensing of real estate brokers might produce an interesting discussion and there are many other topics which the active minds of men engaged in the real estate business would suggest for mutual consideration.

“Aside from any practical money advantages from such conferences, it occurs to me that they would be well worth while for the cultivation of good fellowship.

The real estate men from Maine to California are, for the most part, among the leaders in the communities in which they live. The successful real estate man is a born optimist, and it is that spirit of belief in better things to come which encourages effort and which has contributed so much to the splendid growth of your city (Duluth) and all the urban communities of the United States.”

“…The calling of the real estate man should rank with the so-called learned professions of the ministry, medicine and the law. The real estate man who efficiently represents the interests of his clients has occasion to be as keen a judge of men and of motives as is the lawyer who tries cases before judge and jury. He has to meet and settle many problems of right and wrong and can exercise a power for good equal to that of many eloquent pulpit orators. The minister deals with affairs of the spirit, the lawyer with matters of reason, the doctor with questions of bodily health, while the real estate man has to do with the very framework of things, the earth or land, without which the practice of all professions and human life even would be impossible.

“There is something about the permanency and stability of land which should give like traits of character to the real estate man.”

View selections from the 1907 Duluth Meeting photo album in the NAR Archives.