In October 1944, George Domm, a Michigan farm broker, became the first president of the REALTORS® Land Institute. Originally known as the Agricultural Institute, the new group was an affiliate of the National Association, created to represent the interests of real estate professionals specializing in farmland and rural properties. Over the next three years, Domm organized the Institute’s Board of Directors, created chapters in sixteen states, and nearly tripled the Institute’s original membership of 178.
But RLI’s story begins much earlier than 1944. By 1920 farm brokers were forming their own organizations in several different states. That year REALTOR® Wilbur Mansfield sent 7,000 invitations to other farm brokers around the country, asking them to attend the NAR convention that summer in his home town of Kansas City.
Hundreds responded and the Land Men Realtors Committee was formed. In 1923 the Farm Lands Division of the National Association was born. Before the decade was out the division would boast more than 2,000 members. But the Great Depression hit the land men hard. At the end of 1935 there were only 99 members. In 1940 the farm group became a section of the Brokers’ Division.
Still, the farm brokers felt a need for their own organization. In late 1943 a small group of farm brokers approached NAR’s Board of Directors at its meeting in Cleveland and politely suggested that they “might be interested in having a special division.” The next year, the National Association authorized the formation of the Agricultural Institute.
For more details on RLI’s story, see page 31 of the Fall 2009 issue of Terra Firma.