In the spring of 1889, a small group of businessmen, headed by Frederic H. Viaux, came together because of their mutual interest in a growing real estate market and its impact on the industry and the community. Thus was born the Real Estate Exchange and Auction Board.At the Board’s first meeting in 1890, presided over by Henry M. Whitney, the man responsible for the first electric trolley car in Boston, the organization already had a membership of more than 100, “including the best know real estate men of the city,” according to a newspaper account of the time.
In less than 25 years, the Board had achieved such prominence that the Boston Post, in a 1914 article, called it “second to none in the United States with regard to the influence of its membership.” In 1917, the name was changed to the Boston Real Estate Exchange, in 1944 to the Boston Real Estate Board, and finally, in 1960 to the Greater Boston Real Estate Board.
The Board has undergone many changes, but the principles on which it was founded a century ago remain intact. The Board continues to foster and promote high ethical standards in all real estate transactions,monitor and comment upon legislative measures affecting real estate, protect private property rights, administer an arbitration process for settling business disputes, and provide outstanding continuing education for its membership.
The Greater Boston Real Estate Board is the oldest real estate trade association in America, with over 7,000 members engaged in all sectors of the real estate industry. GBREB is considered unique nationally due to its varied membership base. The Board is made up of five divisions:
BOMA: Building Owners and Managers Association, provides owners and managers of commercial real estate, other industry members and the companies who support them the best professional knowledge and networking opportunities in the market.
CBA: Commercial Brokers Association, represents over 300 members in the commercial brokerage community throughout Massachusetts. CBA is deeply committed to educating, promoting professionalism and encouraging the sharing of ideas and knowledge.
REFA: The Real Estate Finance Association, is the industry leader in bringing together the best people and information in real estate finance. REFA provides quality education programs and networking opportunities for real estate professionals throughout the Greater Boston area.
RHA: Rental Housing Association, is an affiliate of the National Apartment Association, and consists of over 525 members who own, manage, develop or supply goods and services to multi-family properties in Massachusetts. RHA is the industry leading trade association, providing effective advocacy, education and networking opportunities for its members.
GBAR: Greater Boston Association of REALTORS®, represents over 5,000 residential real estate professionals throughout the Greater Boston and Eastern Massachusetts area and is one of the local boards of the National Association of REALTORS® – the largest trade association in America. GBAR provides professional development courses, standard forms, legal reports and updates, brokerage counseling, legislative and regulatory representation, ethics, mediation and arbitration services, as well as recognition awards. REALTORS® subscribe to the strict Code of Ethics of the National Association of REALTORS®
March 22, 1889
The Real Estate Exchange and Auction Board is incorporated, received its charter from Oliver Ames, Governor of the Commonwealth.
May 29, 1889
The first meeting of the organization’s incorporators in held at the Equitable Building in Boston and is adjourned due to the lack of a quorum.
The Exchange establishes the Arbitration Committee to settle business disputes. This Committee is still recognized as one of the most important services provided to members by the Board.
At the request of William Lincoln, then president of the Boston Chamber of Commerce, the Exchange takes part in high-level conferences regarding reforms in Boston City Government.
May 24, 1914
The Boston Sunday Post says the Exchange is “ the most influential real estate organization in the country,” and notes, “As real estate in Boston pays over four-fifths of the city’s income from taxes, it may be fairly said that the interests of real estate are paramount and that no commercial or other property interests stand in greater need of a strong alliance through association for betterment and defense than the manifold and varied land interests…Real estate deserves and requires a strong and virile alliance for the general welfare.”
The Exchange joins the National Association of Real Estate Boards, now the National Association of Realtors.
The Exchange in renamed the Boston Real Estate Exchange.
The World War I Years
The Exchange raises an ambulance fund. Supports Liberty Loan Drives, and is extremely active in efforts to alleviate the effects of the tremendous coal and oil shortages caused by the war.
The Early 1920s
The Exchange is active in manners of the state’s new zoning code, statewide height limitations of new buildings, tax rates and tax limitations, street widening, education, and traffic and planning problems.
After having been in six different locations in 35 years, the exchange moves to Water Street, where it is to remain for more than 40 years, until moving to 24 School Street.
April 1, 1925
Charles Lee becomes the organization’s first full time executive secretary.
An innovation at the Annual Banquet in the admittance of women for the first time, but they are only allowed to sit in the balcony and are not invited to eat dinner.
Due to the effects of the Great Depression, membership figures of the Exchange sink to an all-time low of 471, from the 1926 peak of nearly 700 members. It is not until 1946 that membership levels will again reach the 1926 mark.
The Exchange is re-named the Boston Real Estate Board, and during this year the Board registers a strong protest against staggering increases in assessments of commercial and apartment property in Boston, since the incomes from apartments have been frozen under rent control for two years.
Post World War II
One of the Board’s first efforts after the war is to seek removal of war-time restrictions on home building.
Ray Hofford is named Executive Officer for both the Board and the Massachusetts Association of Realtors (MAR). In these positions, he unified loose federation of rental housing professionals into the Rental Housing Association, one of the Board’s present five divisions., and developed a national reputation as a man of vision for the industry.
Joseph Lund becomes the first Boston Realtor to serve as president of the National Association of Real Estate Boards. Lund was the 1948-1949 president of the Boston Board.
The Board’s Multiple Listing Service (MLS) is established by a small group of members.
The Boston Real Estate Board is given its present name, the Greater Boston Real Estate Board.
Lucy Davenport Boyd, founder of the Weston Firm, L. Davenport Boyd, becomes the Board’s first woman director.
GBREB leads a successful effort to reform City of Boston assessing practices.
Arthur Wilcox, another past president of the Board ( 1949-1951), is elected president of NAREB- National Association of Real Estate Boards.
GBREB provides the bulk of the funds for the “Paint-up Project” in the Washington Park urban renewal area of Boston. GBREB records also note “intense activity in the field of Civil Rights and Fair Housing” during this year.
GBREB plays prominent role in the “New Boston” promotion.
GBREB and MAR Executive Officer Ray Hofford, who served in that capacity for 22 years, resigns. He is replaced by Andrew Hickey at GBREB and by former GBREB President Milton Shaw at MAR.
Massachusetts Governor, John Volpe signs the first bill in the country to provide home-ownership opportunities to low-income families. The bill was a direct result of an article written for GBREB’s Realtor Magazine.
GBREB becomes the first Realtor Board in the state and one of the first in the nation to sign the Voluntary Affirmative Marketing Agreement with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, an agreement to extend equal housing opportunity.
Margaret “peg” Carlson becomes the first woman president of the Board, and in so doing, is the first woman to sit on the Boston Coordinating Committee, better know as “The Vault.” In 1982, she becomes the first woman elected president of MAR.
GBREB Multiple Listing Services (MLS) is computerized.
GBREB MLS members are given the ability to access on-line MLS.
GBREB opens suburban office in Wellesley.
GBREB establishes an independent Government Affairs Department.
The Real Estate Finance Division is incorporated as the Board’s fifth division, joining the Building Owners and Managers Association, the Marketing Institute, the Multiple Listing Service, and the Rental Housing Association.
GBREB announces completion of mandatory fair housing education of its more than 5200 Realtors.
GBREB Housing Production Task Force announces the winner of its Boston Homes for “Boston Neighborhoods” affordable housing design competition: CityDesign Collaborative, Inc.
Commercial Leasing Committee of BOMA Boston was created to support the need for representation of the commercial broker’s community.
Beloved CEO, Andy F. Hickey retires after 30 years of service to GBREB.
GBREB Foundation is established as a way to help those in need throughout Massachusetts by contributing donations to local charities.
- A ballot question repealing rent control is approved by voters.
GBREB’s Center for Professional Development is granted its license to be recognized as a Real Estate School, allowing GBREB to be a one stop shop for education and membership benefits.
The Multiple Listing Service merges with the Bay State Multiple Listing Service as a result breaking away from GBREB to become an independent participant owned system.
The Commercial Leasing & Investment Committee is established as a free standing division of GBREB and shortly after the division changes its name to the Commercial Brokers Association.
GBREB launches www.formsforrealestate.com website, allowing members to have online access to real estate forms and being the first online forms website in the state.
GBREB is selected as a member of Governor Mitt Romney’s 40B Task Force to further explore the development of more affordable housing in the Commonwealth.
- GBREB defeats rent control in Boston.
- As a direct result of GBREB’s efforts, legislation granting residential landlords the ability to sub-meter water and sewer becomes law. The historic achievement was a great benefit not only to property owners but ultimately the environment in the form of water conservation.
The permit streamlining and judicial reform act, allowing developers to expeditiously obtain permits, prevent frivolous abutter lawsuits, and provide a special permit section of the Land Court focused entirely on land use and environmental appeals becomes law.
GBREB negotiates sweeping new regulations governing the installation of carbon monoxide detectors, after supporting the passage of Nicole’s Law in 2005 which mandated their installation after the tragic death of a 7-year old Nicole Garofalo.
GBREB defeats rent control in Boston once again.
- GBREB is selected as a member of Governor Patrick’s Zoning Reform Task Force.
BOMA launched a Green Committee to encourage sustainable building operations, including the first TOBY Earth Award. BOMA also wins the BOMA International Best Practices Award in Marketing and Communications.
- REFA introduced a new class of membership for full time undergraduate and graduate students, a first at the Board.
- GBREB supports an abandoned and foreclosed property ordinance in Boston.
After many years of contentious debate, GBREB introduces legislation giving owners the right of first refusal on so called “expiring use” government subsidized rental properties. Major components of the GBREB bill are incorporated into a law passed on November 23, 2009, MGL C. 40T.
A ballot question to repeal MGL 40B, the state Affordable Housing Law, is defeated by a 20% margin.
The Greater Boston Real Estate Board establishes a Scholarship Program to serve college bound students of high academic ability and in financial need. The Scholarship is established through the GBREB Foundation.
GBREB walks with Battered womens groups to support the Domestic Violence Preservation Bill. GBREB awards 30 scholarships to urban/suburban students to attend college.
GBREB commissions a study with noted environmental economist Robert Staivins of the Kennedy School at Harvard University to evaluate the effectivness of building Energy Efficency Ordinances in commercial and residential buildings.
- REFA celebrates it’s 25th anniversary.