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How the Real Estate Industry Came to Be
September 15, 2021

How the Real Estate Industry Came to Be

by The CE Shop Team

Today’s Real Estate Professionals Uphold a Rich Legacy

You might know your way around a marketing campaign or your favorite real estate CRM, but have you studied up on the rich and lengthy history of your profession as a whole? Agents today are the result of thousands of years of societal change and continue to help facilitate one of the most important milestones in life. From nomadic tribes to established suburbs, the history behind the housing industry is sure to surprise and delight even the most knowledgeable real estate agents.

A Brief History of Real Estate

It’s no surprise that real estate agents weren’t necessarily popular roughly 12,000 years ago when nomadic tribes roamed the land. In fact, the concept of real estate as a whole didn’t come about until man shifted to agrarian societies in about 8000 BC. At that point, former hunter-gatherers started putting down roots, both literally and figuratively. Permanent residences offered protection, support, and community so, over time, towns and cities were formed, making way for kings, pharaohs, and other societal leaders.

These leaders then established a system of tenancy, distributing land to their friends and family and forcing the local peasants to pay rent and taxes. Some peasants were able to generate more wealth over time through trade agreements within their own and adjacent societies. Thus, merchants, tradesmen, and specialized laborers were born. With their newfound wealth, they built and rented out homes and shops to become the first formal landlords. While these merchants didn’t own the land itself, they were able to accumulate even greater status and wealth by renting out their buildings.

Once aristocracy died down — no pun intended — meritocracy largely assumed the role of managing real estate. Soon the concept of land ownership took hold and became political as land was sold on the free market for the first time in history. It’s important to note that while this technically opened the door for more people to purchase land, sales were still limited to those with an excess of money and status, and women and people of color were effectively barred from home and land ownership.


Real Estate Evolves

Eventually, a more modern picture of real estate began to take shape. When the Industrial Revolution commenced in the late 1700s, skills, labor, and education stratified American society into a series of classes. Citizens now found themselves in low-, middle-, blue-collar, white-collar, or high- class occupations. More and more people were able to amass the means and access to acquire a property of their own.

As wealth was gradually distributed throughout the classes, banks opted to offer higher-risk loans like home mortgages in the late 1800s and early 1900s. To help facilitate the land and homeownership process, the real estate profession emerged. Brokers first began showcasing homes in the early 1900s.

The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) was soon established in 1908 "to unite the real estate men of America for the purpose of effectively exerting a combined influence upon matters affecting real estate interests." Despite the word choice in its statement of purpose, there were never gender or racial requirements for membership — though membership was 100% male for years.

Women began joining NAR shortly after its inception, starting with Corrine Simpson. She made her mark as the first female NAR member in 1910. Slowly, female agents across the nation followed in Simpson’s footsteps, taking the real estate market by storm, joining local NAR groups, and eventually establishing women’s-specific groups like the Women’s Council of REALTORSⓇ. As time wore on, women began to make up a majority of real estate agents, and NAR became the largest and one of the most prominent professional associations in the nation.

Post-World War II, owning a home became an integral part of the American Dream. Homeownership represented success, security, and the epitome of a wholesome, nuclear family. Of course, this uptick in popularity wasn’t without issue. Redlining, racial steering, and other discriminatory housing practices have plagued the real estate industry since its inception and remain prevalent today. Doing your part to fight this inequality remains a critical part of the modern agent’s role.

Real Estate Today

In 2021, we’ve come a long way from the hunter-gatherer lifestyle. According to a NerdWallet survey, approximately 91% of Americans would now like to own a home at one point in their lives. A whopping 70% of people equate homeownership with success. For context, that percentage is more than twice as high as those who believe having children or getting married are measures of success. Furthermore, nearly 90% of adults agree that the benefits of homeownership easily outweigh the cons. Despite rapidly rising prices and narrowing inventory, homeownership remains one of the most attractive milestones for people across the nation.

Here to help are knowledgeable and capable real estate agents. Professionals like you uphold a rich legacy of knowledge, expertise, and assistance. More than 120 years since the very first Broker showcased a home, real estate agents are building businesses, growing their knowledge, and helping a diverse array of buyers and sellers across the nation. And we might be biased, but those who opt for the best in real estate education have an even greater breadth of understanding. Wherever you get your Pre-Licensing, Exam Prep, Post-Licensing, or Continuing Education, don’t overlook the fact that you’re a part of a powerful pipeline of experts spanning throughout history!

The Long and Short of Real Estate’s Rich History

The concept of land ownership stretches back thousands of years, but modern real estate practices have revolutionized the industry. Never before have Americans had such accessibility to land and homeownership. Homeownership remains a significant part of the American Dream, and real estate agents are in high demand as a result. Now, with that lesson in mind, get out there and make some history!

Ready to Make History With The CE Shop?

Whether you’re a new agent looking to start award-winning Pre-Licensing education or an experienced veteran wanting to finish your Continuing Education, we’ve got a 100% online curriculum that’s one of the most diverse and groundbreaking in the industry. And if you want to network with your peers, join our Facebook group and get connected!