REALTORS® Land Institute Celebrates 70th Anniversary
Frederik Heller, our manager of Library and Archives here at NAR is an invaluable resource for answers about just about every historical aspect of the real estate business. I’m happy to say Mr. Heller has contributed a fascinating article about the REALTORS® Land Institute and I’ll be posting it here at The Source in a mini-series. Here’s the first installment of “70 Years Of The REALTORS® Land Institute — Plus 24 More” – WG
The REALTORS® Land Institute (RLI) is celebrating 70 years of serving and representing the country’s land professionals. In January 1944, the National Association of REALTORS®’ Board of Directors met in Chicago and approved the formation of an Agricultural Institute, to meet the “growing demand for a strong national association of all farm brokers.” By June, the Institute had already established its first two chapters (Michigan and Iowa), changed its name to the Institute of Farm Brokers, launched its newsletter service, and was busy recruiting members.
But although RLI as a national organization got its start in 1944, their story actually began many years earlier. And that story doesn’t just tell how RLI came into being — RLI’s story also tells how the real estate industry came to look the way it does today. Land professionals and RLI played a vital role in shaping the real estate landscape and in the development of the REALTOR® organization.
To find out how the idea that evolved into RLI originated, we have to set the time machine back a few more decades. It’s important to understand first that when the National Association of REALTORS® was founded in 1908, real estate was a completely different world than the one you enjoy now. There was no 30-year mortgage, no real estate license laws, no Code of Ethics, the term REALTOR® didn’t exist, and even written contracts and multiple listing were relatively new concepts.
The job of a real estate broker was also much more all-encompassing than it is today. In 1908, real estate professionals didn’t refer to themselves as residential brokers, or commercial property specialists, or farm brokers. A real estate broker’s job often included work with all types of property, along with appraisals, mortgage finance, zoning, subdivision development, and other duties that we consider separate professions today. Property specialties and niche marketing were not recognized concepts at that time. If your job was concerned with any aspect of the transfer of real property from one owner to another, you were a real estate broker. The National Association of REALTORS® was organized in 1908 to give a unified voice to the general real estate broker, no matter what aspect of real estate they dealt in.
Right after World War I, however, that generalized notion of the real estate broker began to change, and it was farm and land professionals who first brought about that change. The majority of NAR’s first members came from urban and suburban areas, but it was the brokers in rural areas who first set themselves apart as a specialized branch of real estate practice. They came to understand that their businesses and clients were different from those of real estate brokers in the cities. They dealt primarily with farm and ranch land, and their clients were mostly farmers and others who lived and worked on the land.
Watch for the next installment of Fred Heller’s “70 Years Of The REALTORS® Land Institute — Plus 24 More” right here at The Source