The history of the men and women selling real estate is dependent upon the country where they ply their trades. In the United States, real estate brokers began presenting houses for sale around 1900, and they have continued to today. In countries like Australia, the practice of real estate sales has been present, but only recently have real estate brokers and agents come together to form common associations for home sales.
The first records for home sales in the United States began around 1890 as an attempt to form a real estate association failed, but it began a process so that by 1908, the National Association of Real Estate Exchanges was founded to bring brokers and agents together to facilitate the selling of homes. Despite the presence of the association, until 1919, anyone could call themselves a ‘real estate broker’ without any professional certification or licensing. Needless to say, the practice of selling homes in this era was a dubious practice at best as brokers, known as curbstoners, placed multiple placards in front of homes trying to compete leaving homeowners to simply pick one of the multitudes.
Traditional real estate sales practices emerged out of this era as true real estate agents asked permission to gain listings to sell and earn a home seller’s trust. Single agents gained exclusive contracts in major cities such as Chicago, St. Louis, and Baltimore, and this allowed these agents to become the go-between for home-sellers and buyers were know today incorporating the practices of walkthrough and open houses used to sell homes for over 100 years.
In the 1910s, the first open house occurred over several weeks as a way to open homes to the public. The public could see new building concepts as home technology such as electric lighting and kitchen layouts improved homes making them more desirable. In 1925, the National Real Estate Journal presented the idea of presenting furnished, or ‘staged’ homes for review to give buyers a feeling of already being home. In the 1930s and 1940s, real estate agents used one open house to create sales networks of multiple homes to present to buyers. If one house was not desired, then agents could present several in their network to improve the chances of a sale. In the 1940s and 1950s, the post-World War II world saw a boom in real estate sales as soldiers coming home looked for a new place to call home and raise a family. Homes entered and exited the market in rapid time. This was the first time the term “Realtor” was used, and women became realtors in record numbers. Finally, in 1952, the use of model homes emerged in Dallas, Texas as a way to present a finished home to thousands of people representing another built unit for purchase.
In the past 70 years, the sales of homes have remained the same. Home prices doubled in the 1960s and realtors improved their craft through the creation of the Council of Residential Specialists to improve realtor knowledge about sales practices. The best way to sell a home remains to get people in the home. What has changed the real estate landscape was the Internet as a way to list, find and schedule appointments. New sites such as Realtor.com allow prospective home buyers to see homes before they actually set foot in a home giving them a better feel for areas of the home they want to focus on. The Internet has also facilitated the ability to schedule showings, and buyers can see several homes in a day rather than one or two in a day drawing out the buying process. Real estate agents were quick to adopt these innovations in order to present the best aspects of the home and improve the chances of the sale and bring their listings together in one spot.
In Australia, real estate agents were present as individual entities, but in 1981, rural real estate agents in Victoria met to create a common group to better withstand large, franchised organizations. This group agreed on four principles that real estate agents employ the latest techniques and training to improve customer satisfaction, be able to work domestically and internationally, allow members to retain levels of independence, and find the best agents. As a result, the First National Group of Independent Real Estate Agents Limited was born. Based upon the ideas of integrity with expertise, flawless reputations, exceptional service, leadership, networking, and consistent improvement of craft, the group sought to present the best possible experience to the consumer. In only 30 years, these groups of real estate agents have become the best known in Australia.