GBREB History

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.

GBREB Highlights

Total Membership exceeds 11,000 Real Estate Professionals

The Eastern Middlesex Association of Realtors joins the Greater Boston Real Estate Board, and their Reading Office becomes a Realtor Training and Service Center for GBREB.

The Greater Boston Real Estate Board Celebrates its 125th Anniversary

GBREB commissions a study with noted environmental economist Robert Staivins of the Kennedy School at Harvard University to evaluate the effectiveness of building Energy Efficiency Ordinances in commercial and residential buildings.

  • REFA celebrates it’s 25th anniversary.

GBREB walks with Battered women's groups to support the Domestic Violence Preservation Bill. GBREB awards 30 scholarships to urban/suburban students to attend college.

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.

A ballot question to repeal MGL 40B, the state Affordable Housing Law, is defeated by a 20% margin.

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.

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.

GBREB defeats rent control in Boston once again.

  • GBREB is selected as a member of Governor Patrick’s Zoning Reform Task Force.

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 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.

GBREB launches website, allowing members to have online access to real estate forms and being the first online forms website in the state.

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.

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.

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.

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.

May 1991
Beloved CEO, Andy F. Hickey retires after 30 years of service to GBREB.

Commercial Leasing Committee of BOMA Boston was created to support the need for representation of the commercial broker’s community.

GBREB Housing Production Task Force announces the winner of its Boston Homes for “Boston Neighborhoods” affordable housing design competition: CityDesign Collaborative, Inc.

GBREB announces completion of mandatory fair housing education of its more than 5200 Realtors.

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 establishes an independent Government Affairs Department.

July 1982
GBREB opens suburban office in Wellesley.

GBREB MLS members are given the ability to access on-line MLS.

April 1978
GBREB Multiple Listing Services (MLS) is computerized.

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 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.

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 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.

GBREB plays prominent role in the "New Boston" promotion.

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.

Arthur Wilcox, another past president of the Board ( 1949-1951), is elected president of NAREB- National Association of Real Estate Boards.

Early 1960's
GBREB leads a successful effort to reform City of Boston assessing practices.

The Boston Real Estate Board is given its present name, the Greater Boston Real Estate Board.

August 1955
The Board’s Multiple Listing Service (MLS) is established by a small group of members.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

April 1, 1925
Charles Lee becomes the organization’s first full time executive secretary.

February 1924
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.

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.

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 Exchange in renamed the Boston Real Estate Exchange.

January 1915
The Exchange joins the National Association of Real Estate Boards, now the National Association of Realtors.

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."

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.

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.

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.

March 22, 1889
The Real Estate Exchange and Auction Board is incorporated, received its charter from Oliver Ames, Governor of the Commonwealth.

Upcoming Events

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2024 BOMA Boston Golf Tournament
Pinehills Golf Club
Real Estate Professional Ethics Webinar
Emerging Leaders- Property Tour & After-Hour
100-112 Western Ave