THE DEVELOPMENT OF ORGANIZED REAL ESTATE IN SAN FRANCISCO


Under all is the land.” So begins the

preamble to the Code of Ethics of

the National Association of

REALTORS®. But where was the

land? In 1905, if you were offered

an attractive deal by a sharp real estate operator

in San Francisco, a so-called “curbstoner” because

they stood out front of the offices of reputable real

estate agents attempting to snag unsuspecting

buyers before they entered, the phrase caveat

emptor should have been uppermost in your mind!

Real estate in San Francisco had proved, by

1905, to be a valuable investment. Despite

numerous major fires (no less than six between

1849 and 1851) and frequent recorded earthquakes,

the city had experienced significant

population growth. This meant that the acquisition,

subdivision, and development of parcels of

land in the city had been a profitable venture for

many.

Reputable agents had long tried to establish an

orderly market in San Francisco for real estate

investment. They offered a full range of brokerage

services to buyers and sellers, and management

services to owners of property. They published

notices of sales and summaries of activity regularly

and accurately. But effort was clearly needed to

promulgate standards to protect the public from

unscrupulous opportunists. There were no established

commission rates for selling real estate, no

generally accepted leasing rate, nor any uniform

schedule of fees for the collection of rents. A

code of ethics was needed for the industry, along

with a tribunal with powers to enforce it.

Elsewhere in California, groups of real estate

dealers had established local organizations. The

first reported Real Estate Board in the state was

formed in San Diego in 1878, although that was

dissolved in 1886, to be re-formed in 1887.

Another association of real estate agents was

formed in San Jose in 1896. The Berkeley Realty

Board was founded in 1902, and the Los Angeles

Realty Board in 1903. A preliminary meeting to

develop the idea of forming a wider association

had been held in San Francisco on April 7, 1902,

which resulted in the idea of a California Real

Estate Board to serve the counties north of the

Tehachapi Mountains. But no record exists of

any progress made by that fledgling organization.

FORMATION OF THE SAN

FRANCISCO REAL ESTATE BOARD

By 1905, the time was ripe for the creation of a

San Francisco Real Estate Board. A feeling of

buoyant optimism was in the air that year.

According to the Real Estate Circular, which

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THE DEVELOPMENT OF

ORGANIZED REAL ESTATE

IN SAN FRANCISCO

By David Parry

Thomas Magee & Sons had published annually

since 1866, sales of San Francisco real estate

ended 1905 at a record level of $74,926,065, a figure

which was not to be exceeded until 1920.

President Theodore Roosevelt had committed the

nation to building the Panama Canal, and there

was talk of mounting a World’s Fair in San

Francisco in 1915 to celebrate its opening. By the

1904 initiative of Mayor James D. Phelan, through

the Association for the Improvement and

Adornment of San Francisco, Daniel H.

Burnham, the prominent Chicago architect and

town planner, had been invited to develop a plan

for the city incorporating new boulevards, parks,

and a civic center. His associate, Edward

Bennett, was hard at work in a house on Twin

Peaks implementing Burnham’s vision, and a

report was expected to be published in 1905.

With encouragement from the Chamber of

Commerce, a group of San Francisco brokers met

twice in the Assembly Hall of the Mills Building

at 220 Montgomery Street, on the afternoons of

Monday, February 6, and Thursday, February 16,

1905. The result of the second meeting was

reported in the Call-Bulletin and the Examiner the

next day.

The oldest established companies in the city

were involved—Madison & Burke had been

formed in 1858, Thomas Magee & Sons in 1866,

Baldwin & Howell in 1885. As reported in the

Examiner, the first elected president of the San

Francisco Real Estate Board was Josiah R. Howell,

one of the principals in Baldwin and Howell.

Howell was to remain president for two years,

through 1906.

5

Real estate dealers from all over California assembled at the formation of the California State Realty Federation

in Los Angeles, May 1905. First President Francis Ferrier is in the front of the group.

Photo reprinted from California Real Estate Magazine, June 1942.

FORMATION OF THE

CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION

Three months after the creation

of the San Francisco Real Estate

Board, a group of almost 100

real estate dealers from all over

the state met at the Chamber of

Commerce on Broadway in Los

Angeles, on May 27, 1905. The

meeting resulted in the creation

of the California State Realty

Federation, to be renamed the

California Real Estate Association

(CREA) in 1917, and the California Association

of REALTORS® (CAR) in 1975. The first president

of the California State Realty Federation

was Francis Ferrier, a native of Ontario, Canada,

who was also President of the Board of Trustees

of Berkeley from 1903 to 1909, an office which

was the equivalent of Mayor. Ferrier had been

instrumental in the founding of the Berkeley

Realty Board in 1902. San Francisco’s Josiah R.

Howell succeeded to the presidency of the

California Real Estate Federation in 1907, the

first of nine San Franciscans who will have led

the state association by 2006.

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SAN FRANCISCO PRESIDENTS OF

THE CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION

1907 Josiah R. Howell

1911 Mabry McMahan

1927 Harry B. Allen

1935 Charles W. Brock

1943 Walter P. Laufenberg

1951 Willard L. Johnson

1957 J. Mortimer Clark

1961 Kenneth H. Smitten

2006 Vincent E. Malta*

* Malta is CAR President-Elect in 2005.

REAL ESTATE MEN

ORGANIZE A BOARD

--------------

First Measure Adopted by Body Is

Memorial to the Legislature in Opposition

to the Stanton Oral Contract Bill.

--------------

The local real estate dealers met yesterday afternoon in

the assembly hall of the Mills building and organized

what will be known as “The San Francisco Real Estate

Board.”

A set of by-laws was adopted providing for two classes

of membership, one an active class, to embrace all

active real estate agents and brokers, and the other an

associate-member class, intended to include property

owners and those interested in real estate in this city and

who are not engaged in the brokerage business. The

following well known firms enrolled themselves as

members at the initial meeting:

Madison & Burke, Thomas Magee & Sons, Bovee,

Toy & Co., G. H. Umbsen & Co., Baldwin & Howell,

Shainwald, Buckbee & Co., Von Rhein Real Estate Co.,

Davidson & Leigh, B. P. Oliver, David Stern & Sons, O.

D. Baldwin & Son, Hooker & Lent, A. J. Rich & Co.,

Boardman Bros. & Co., Lyon & Hoag, David Bush &

Son, Center & Spader, Speck & Co., W. H. Crim & Co.,

Hawks & Skelton, McEwen Bros., Sonntag Bros., A. E.

Buckingham, William Cranston Co., Hoag & Lansdale,

Burnham & Marsh Co., Baldwin & Stetson, George A.

Raymond, B. M. Gunn & Co., C. M. Wooster & Co.

A board of directors of nine members, consisting of

John T. Harmes, Frederick Magee, George D. Toy, H. P.

Umbsen. J. R. Howell, Samuel G. Buckbee, David Rich,

E. L. Hoag and C. M. Wooster was elected and this board

met immediately after the adjournment of the general

meeting and organized by electing J. R. Howell president,

John T. Harmes vice-president, and Samuel G. Buckbee

treasurer. B. L. Cadwalader, the secretary of the Chamber

of Commerce, was elected permanent secretary of the

organization, which will have its headquarters and hold

its meetings at the rooms of the Chamber of Commerce.

The organization is intended to promote the welfare of

the real estate men of San Francisco, to watch all legislation

affecting property rights, landlords and tenants, all

municipal ordinances concerning buildings, and, in fact,

all matters of general interest to the property owners of

this city, as well as any State legislation of the same character.

The first measure adopted by the organization was the

passage of a resolution in opposition to the Stanton Oral

Contract Bill, now before the Senate in Sacramento.

San Francisco Examiner, Friday, February 17, 1905

FORMATION OF THE

NATIONAL ASSOCIATION

At a harmonious meeting of 825 real estate

dealers from 19 different states held in Nashville,

Tennessee, in February 1891, an organization

called the National Real Estate Association

was formed. Benjamin Weil of Milwaukee,

Wisconsin, was elected as its first President.

Thomas T. Wright of Nashville was later honored

in resolutions as the originator of the idea of creating

a national association. A large delegation

from Buffalo, New York, secured the next meeting

for their city. The meeting was held in October

1892, attracting 1,500 dealers from over 30 states.

A new President was elected, W. B. Cutler of

Buffalo, and the group agreed to meet again during

the World’s Columbian Exposition in

Chicago in the summer of 1893. That meeting

was billed as a “World’s Real Estate Dealers

Congress” and reportedly drew several thousand

real estate men, mainly from the United States,

with a few from foreign countries. No new officers

were elected, those from nine months prior

being held over until the following year for a

meeting delegated to a committee that unfortunately

never acted. Federal mismanagement of

the nation’s gold reserves triggered a financial

panic in 1893 which led to an economic depression

that lasted through 1896. A quarter of the

nation’s railroads went under, 500 banks failed,

16,000 businesses declared bankruptcy, and 25

percent of the industrial work force was thrown

into unemployment. The real estate industry

could not escape the depression and the National

Real Estate Association failed to survive.

The idea of a national association was taken up

again in 1907 by members of the Chicago, St.

Louis, Duluth, St. Paul, and Minneapolis Boards.

Invitations were mailed to all known real estate

boards nationwide to attend a meeting hosted by

the Chicago Real Estate Board in the YMCA

Auditorium on South La Salle Street, May 12-14,

1908. Representatives attended from Baltimore

(the oldest continually operating real estate

board, established in 1855), Chicago (established

in 1883), Cincinnati, Cleveland, Detroit, Duluth,

Fresno, Gary, Kansas City, Los Angeles,

Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Omaha (established in

1885), Philadelphia, St. Louis (established in

1876), St. Paul (established in 1892), Seattle,

Sioux City, Tacoma, and Washington, D.C. The

California State Realty Federation was the only

state organization officially represented there, by

Leonard Merrill of Los Angeles and W. E. G.

Saunders of Fresno. The Chicago Record-Herald of

May 12, 1908, in an advance story on the meeting,

reported:

Fifteen years ago there was a national body

of real estate men. Then came the hard

times of 1893 and the organization broke

asunder and has apparently not been ready

for reunion until the present time. Twentythree

cities will join in the movement to

revive the national association.

The meeting resulted in the creation of the

National Association of Real Estate Exchanges.

General Nathan William MacChesney, then

attorney for the Chicago Real Estate Board,

supervised the writing of a constitution and a set

of bylaws. A code of ethics was anticipated by

the founders, and the bylaws mandated a standing

committee on ethics. Dues were set at $1 per year

with a membership fee of $50. However, the

membership basis was established as being city

real estate boards, to the exclusion of state associations,

a situation that Californians felt limited

their influence. It became almost impossible to

get boards on the Pacific Coast to join an organization

based as far away as Chicago. The

California State Realty Federation, through its

first full-time secretary Herbert W. Burdett, tried

to make the case, unsuccessfully at first, that if

state associations were allowed to join the national

association, then delegates could be selected to

represent the local boards.

Formally incorporated on July 2, 1908, the

National Association of Real Estate Exchanges

set up its first office in borrowed quarters—the

board rooms of the Chicago Real Estate Board.

Edward A. Halsey, who had chosen to be called

executive secretary rather than president, was the

initial driving force, promoting the association’s

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existence, quality, and potential. He had

the foresight to describe what was needed

nationwide, such as uniform state

laws relating to real estate contracts,

deeds and mortgages, and exclusive

agency. “Exclusive agency would

revolutionize our whole business,”

he stated “If we can say to owners

you must sell through some one

man or you cannot sell through

any of the members of this board,

we can make it stick.”

THE THREE-WAY

AGREEMENT

Real estate activity is multi-layered.

More transactions take

place locally than elsewhere within

a state or the country, and

therefore association with fellow

real estate agents is primarily on a

local level. At first, some local

boards operated without either state or national

affiliation. Others paid dues to the state association,

or the national association, or both. The

impact of both state and federal legislation on real

estate operations made a three-level association

of membership logical, but it was many years

before that hierarchy was formalized.

In 1926, the California Real Estate Association

ratified three-way membership to go into effect

when approved by the national association. By

1935, however, only eight state associations had

similar three-way agreements in place and the

National Association of Real Estate Boards

dispensed with such requirements. Today most

REALTORS® pay membership dues to local associations

and those local associations collect dues

for their state association and the national association

as well. But, for exceptional circumstances,

the bylaws of the California Association still

permit individuals who can make a case for not

joining a local association to join the state association

directly, and the bylaws of the National

Association still permit a local association to join

it directly, without also being part of a state

association.

The National Association of Real

Estate Exchanges became the

National Association of Real Estate

Boards in 1916 and evolved into

the present National Association

of REALTORS® (NAR) in 1974.

With 1,100,000 members, it is

one of the largest and most

respected trade organizations in

the country. The National

Association’s Political Action

Committee (RPAC), originally

called the “Washington Committee,”

supports NAR’s lobbying efforts,

which are regarded as very influential

on Capitol Hill. NAR

continues to be headquartered in

Chicago but in 2004 opened a

brand new “green” twelve-story

building in Washington, D.C., at

500 New Jersey Avenue, NW, just

three blocks from the U.S. Capitol.

The California Real Estate Association became

the California Association of REALTORS® in

1975 and currently has 160,000 members. It is

still headquartered in Los Angeles, and has a legislative

office in Sacramento. The San Francisco

Real Estate Board adopted the business name of

the San Francisco Board of REALTORS® in 1973

and revised that to the San Francisco Association

of REALTORS® in 1989, more accurately reflecting

the trade association nature of the

organization. It is regarded within the San

Francisco business community and local government

circles as a consistent advocate of private

property rights and cost-effective government.

Natural increases in the membership levels of

organized real estate were helped by virtue of two

significant changes made in 1972. The National

Association constitution and bylaws were

amended to create a REALTOR-ASSOCIATE®

classification for licensed salespersons affiliated

with a broker who was a REALTOR®. At the

same time, local associations were given the

option of granting full REALTOR® membership

8

Herbert W. Burdett of Santa

Monica, First State Secretary. Photo

reprinted from California Real

Estate Magazine, June 1938.

to sales associates. The mandatory date for local

associations to adopt one or the other approach

was January 1, 1974. In the late 1970s, with

encouragement from several National

Association of REALTORS® officers, the second

approach, called the “All-REALTOR® program,”

became the more popular. By now, most local

associations around the country have adopted an

All-REALTOR® program, and it is common for

sales associates to be elected to boards of directors

and to become presidents of their associations, a

status previously only available to the brokerowners

of companies.

THE STRUGGLE

TO ESTABLISH A

CALIFORNIA REAL ESTATE

LICENSE LAW

Early on, most reputable real estate dealers in

California came to the conclusion that the best

way to force unscrupulous operators out of business

would be to pass a license law for real estate

practitioners. Architects were successful in doing

the same thing at the turn of the century. State

licensing of architects had been in place since

1901 with legal remedies to stop unlicensed individuals

representing themselves as architects.

A real estate license law and the establishment

of a state Real Estate Commission (a government

agency to administer the law) was approved for

adoption at the California State Realty

Federation’s convention in 1911. After a great

deal of late night effort in 1913, led by Federation

president W. L. Atkinson and legislative committee

chair and past-president (1908) Dan W.

Carmichael, the California legislature passed a

license law. Carmichael was a Sacramento broker

at the time and was able to make the services of

his stenographers available for retyping amended

versions of the bill.

But opposition from within the San Francisco

Real Estate Board, some members of which

believed that the licensing law as written was not

strong enough to drive curbstoners away from the

business, caused Governor Hiram W. Johnson to

veto the bill. The secretary of the California

State Realty Federation, James G. Stafford, writing

in the Federation’s official publication Real

Estate in July 1913, however, described a great

moral victory in having at least achieved passage

of the bill through the Legislature. “One man’s

adverse opinion proves nothing, even though he

be the Governor of this State,” Stafford ventured,

promising to renew the fight in the next lawmaking

session two years later.

In 1915, a revised license law passed the

Legislature with the united support of real estate

interests in California. Unfortunately, it was

vetoed again by Governor Johnson, this time

based on opinions generated by his own legal

advisors.

In 1917, a third version of a license law was

passed by the Legislature. The new governor,

William D. Stephens, signed the bill and appointed

Assemblyman Freeman H. Bloodgood as the

state’s first real estate commissioner. Bloodgood

had been a real estate broker in Inglewood prior

to his election and he had carried all three bills

through the Assembly. Plans were made to

implement the licensing of brokers, forms were

distributed by local boards, and the law was in

operation technically for eight months. But in

1918, the California Supreme Court found that it

violated the state constitution because certain

other business professionals, such as insurance

agents and bankers, were exempt from its requirements.

Finally, in 1919, a fourth license law was passed

by the California legislature, this time based on a

model developed for use nationwide by General

McChesney of the National Association of Real

Estate Boards, who had been that organization’s

general counsel since 1908. Again it was signed

by Governor Stephens, and this time it survived

the anticipated legal challenges to become the

first real estate license law in the United States.

Other states followed soon after with similar legislation—

Louisiana, Michigan, Oregon, and

Wisconsin. The first California real estate commissioner

under the 1919 law was Ray L. Riley.

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ADOPTING A

CODE OF ETHICS

Concurrent with attempts to get license laws in

place, at a national level the need for a Code of

Ethics became a priority to differentiate reputable

real estate agents from the unscrupulous. At the

annual convention of the National Association of

Real Estate Exchanges in Winnipeg in 1913, the

first Code of Ethics was adopted, largely based on

a code already accepted by Kansas City brokers.

The title “Ethics of the Real Estate Profession”

clearly indicated the hope of industry leaders that

real estate brokerage would become a respected

profession.

The Code of Ethics has been updated many

times since to reflect the standards and terminology

of the times, but it remains vital today as the

primary distinguishing factor between a real

estate licensee and a licensee who is also a member

of the National Association of REALTORS®.

In 2001, the National Association implemented

the mandatory study and passing of an ethics class

by its members every four years.

Since the Code of Ethics was adopted in 1913,

it has been amended at the annual conventions

in 1924, 1928, 1950, 1951, 1952, 1955, 1956,

1961, 1962, 1974, 1982, and 1986, and fine-tuned

almost every year since. It has a Preamble and

three major sections: Duties to Clients and

Customers; Duties to the Public; and Duties to

REALTORS®. The preamble starts with “Under

all is the land. Upon its wise utilization and widely

allocated ownership depend the survival and

growth of free institutions and of our civilization.”

It includes the Golden Rule: “Whatsoever ye

would that others should do to you, do ye even so

to them.” Within the three main sections are a

number of Articles, and many of the Articles are

expanded upon by one or more Standards of

Practice. The full Code of Ethics is available at

www.realtor.org and it has been translated into

Chinese, Korean, Spanish, Tagalog, and

Vietnamese.

10

Cover of the first Code of Ethics adopted by the

National Association of Real Estate Exchanges in 1913.

Image courtesy of the National Association of REALTORS®.

11

DUTIES TO CLIENTS.

1. Be absolutely honest, truthful,

faithful and efficient. Ever bear in

mind that the broker is an employee,

that his client is his employer and is

entitled to the best service the real

estate men can give — his information,

talent, time, services, loyalty,

confidence and fidelity.

2. Be conservative in giving advice

and, where not reasonably well posted,

refrain from giving opinion of value.

3. Inspect client’s property, if possible,

before offering it for sale, and

always inform the buyer if that has not

been done.

4. Do not depreciate the price of

property unless the price is too high;

ask that the price be reasonable, and

tell the owner that it must be so if he

expects his agent to make an attempt

to sell it.

5. Obtain sole agency, in writing, if

it is property worthy of a special effort

to sell.

6. Advocate that the real consideration

be shown in a deed to property,

or one dollar and other valuable considerations.

7. Do not give special information

to inquiries over the telephone, or otherwise,

unless they are willing to give

their names and addresses. Let them

understand that the broker deals in the

open, and expects them to do likewise.

8. An agent should not ask for a

net price on property, unless he intends

to buy it himself, and so notifies his

client.

9. He should request his client not

to discuss price with the prospective

buyer, but persuade his client to refer

the matter to the agent, — thus

strengthening the agent’s position with

the buyer, and thus helping the agent

to make a better deal for his client.

10. An agent should always exact

the regular real estate commission of

the Association of which he is a member,

and always give his client to

understand at the beginning that he is

entitled to such and expects it.

Duties to Other Brokers.

1. An agent should respect the listings

of his brother agent, and

co-operate with him to sell, — provided

the other agent has the most

suitable place.

2. Advise an owner to renew a selling

contract with some other agent,

rather than solicit the agency, provided

the other agent has made a reasonable

attempt to sell the property during the

life of his contract.

3. Always be loyal, square, frank

and earnest in the matters that require

the co-operation of brokers, and

always speak kindly of competitors,

refusing to pass judgment on others

from hearsay evidence.

4. Advertise nothing but facts, and

be careful not to criticise by any

method a competitor’s proposition.

5. Give an honest opinion concerning

a competitor’s proposition when

asked to do so by a prospective purchaser,

even though such opinion will

result in a sale by the competitor.

6. Refuse to put a “For Sale” or

“For Rent” sign on property on which

a competitor already has his sign, provided

the placing of such sign was

through the authorization of the owner.

7. If an agent cannot efficiently

handle a proposition, he should refer

the matter to some competitor who

can.

8. Solicit co-operation of other

members of the Association in selling

Sole Agency listings, unless there is a

deal on, or there is some particular

buyer in sight, to whom a sale is

expected, and always be ready and

willing to divide the regular commission

equally with any member of the

Association who can produce a buyer

for any client.

9. Invoke friendly arbitrations by

the Real Estate Association rather than

through the courts of law, in settling

differences with other agents.

10. Do not disregard the rights of

other agents. Never refuse to work

through an owner’s regular agent, or

refuse to try to sell his property to a

live buyer unless handling the entire

deal and getting all the commission.

11. A broker will not put his name

in the newspapers in connection with a

deal unless really representing at least

one of the parties and receiving a part

of the commission, for such publicity

is a sham, and the result is to the disadvantage

of all.

12. When a sale or exchange is

handled by two agents, each agent

shall be given due credit in the report

of such sale or exchange.

13. Do not relay property, — i.e.,

do not submit to one agent or broker

that which is obtained from another

unless the case be exceptional, in

which case the third agent should

know that the property is not obtained

direct. A broker who relays represents

neither side, and is not entitled to the

same consideration as either of the

other agents.

Code of Ethics, as adopted in 1913

ETHICS

of the

REAL ESTATE PROFESSION

Adopted by the

National Association of Real Estate Exchanges

ORIGINATION OF

THE TERM REALTOR

Charles N. Chadbourn of Minneapolis coined

the term Realtor. By his own recollection twenty

years later:

One day while I was on my way to the

weekly meeting of our Minneapolis Real

Estate Board, I was annoyed by a dirty little

newsboy screaming the headlines of a scandal

sheet he was selling. “Real Estate Man

Swindles Poor Widow; read all about it!”

Investigation

proved that the

real estate man

was an obscure

shyster of no

business standing

and not a member

of our Board.

But the incident

set me thinking:

Every member of

our Board was

bespattered by

this incident. In order to be a member of

our Board we must be of good reputation

and be vouched for by reputable business

men. Then we must live up to a code of

ethics by which we govern our conduct.

Why should we not have a distinctive title

which would indicate these standards?

So the idea incubated and the result was

Realtor. Real estate is the ancient term

meaning “royal grant of land,” and realty,

real property and other combinations are in

common use. The suffix or denotes a doer,

e.g., executor, grantor, testator, etc. Hence

Realtor, one who does business in real

estate.

Twenty years ago a large delegation from

Minneapolis attended the ninth convention

of the National Association at New

Orleans and formally presented to it the

title Realtor. It was duly adopted and

defined, “a member of a real estate board

affiliated with the national association.” Its

exclusive control of the title has been confirmed

by 16 court decisions. The present

convention is celebrating the 20th anniversary

of its adoption.

The word is really a proper noun like

Englishman, Methodist and others denoting

a special Class and should always be

capitalized. It is pronounced in two syllables,

reel'-tor.

REGISTERING THE

TRADEMARK

Chadbourn’s term Realtor was

enthusiastically adopted at the

National Convention in 1916.

A “Diamond R” logo was later

developed and members of the

national association were proud

to use it on stationery and display

it in their offices. Federal trademark law dating

back to the Trade-Mark Act of 1881, updated in

1905, and again in 1920, was thoroughly overhauled

by the Lanham Act, which was signed by

President Truman on July 5, 1946. Immediately,

the National Association of Real Estate Boards

applied for registration of the words REALTOR®

and REALTORS®. The plural version was issued

as a collective service mark on September 13,

1949 (registration number 515,200), and registration

for the singular version, REALTOR®, was

issued four months later, on January 10, 1950

(number 519,789). The marks have been consistently

and strenuously protected from misuse ever

since. To this day, challenges are made that the

terms have entered into common usage, synonymous

with real estate agent. But as recently as

2004, in a decision issued by the United States

Patent and Trademark Office, the National

Association of REALTORS® successfully defended

its rights to prohibit non-members from using

12

Charles N. Chadbourn

the marks and to set standards for how the terms

are used, even in Internet domain names.

Company names or individual names can be

appended to the words, so long as those companies

or licensed individuals are members of the

National Association, but general terms such as

First, Best, or San Francisco cannot be used with

them. The serious intent of the National

Association to protect the trademarks is indicated

by its retention of the Chicago law firm Brinks

Hofer Gilson & Lione. Jerome Gilson was

declared by Euromoney magazine in 1998 to be

the “Top Trademark Lawyer in the World,” and

he was winner of the International Trademark

Association President’s Award in 2001.

The “Diamond R” logo was followed by one

that incorporated the phrase

“Under all is the land,” and

that was replaced in 1974 by

the familiar “Block R” logo,

which association members are

entitled to use, following the

National Association’s guidelines.

THE REAL ESTATE

ASSOCIATIONMERGER

In 1935, a group of San Francisco neighborhood

real estate brokers formed an independent

Real Estate Association as an alternative to the

San Francisco Real Estate Board, which was

regarded by many as a downtown brokers group.

The Real Estate Association could not be affiliated

with the state and national associations, whose

rules permitted only one Board per city, so a few

of its broker members also maintained a membership

in the San Francisco Real Estate Board. But

by 1947, it was clear to the Real Estate

Association leadership that a merger with the San

Francisco Real Estate Board would benefit all of

its members, and committees were established to

explore the idea. It would take four years to

achieve this merger.

Herbert U. Nelson, secretary of the National

Association of Real Estate Boards, and Eugene

Conser, secretary of

the California Real

Estate Association,

were highly encouraging

of the merger,

and the eyes of the

state organization

were on San

Francisco in 1951

with local broker

Willard L. Johnson

as president of

CREA. Finally, the

merger was approved

by the membership of

both groups and took

effect on July 10, 1951, creating a unified San

Francisco Real Estate Board. With 1,235 members,

it became the second largest board in

California after Los Angeles and the fifth largest

city board in the country. The 1951 presidents of

the San Francisco Real Estate Board and the Real

Estate Association, F. Burt Hulting and

Alexander Cutler, respectively, worked very hard

to effect the merger of their two organizations.

Cutler went on to be the 1952 president of the

unified San Francisco Real Estate Board, which

then had a 42-person board of directors to ensure

representation from across the city.

D. D. Watson, California Real Estate

Commissioner from 1948 to 1957 and a former

CREA president (1931), characterized the unification

as “...a significant milestone in the progress

of organized real estate, important not only to

San Francisco but to real estate people everywhere.”

He believed that “the merger of these

two fine groups should result in one of the

strongest and most prominent boards in the

nation—a board truly worthy of San Francisco.

Each of the now merged boards was outstanding

in its own right, but it goes almost without saying

that the consolidation will result in a stronger

force for the good of the San Francisco area, the

real estate investing public and the new board’s

members. I congratulate the combined membership

of the board and entertain no fears for its

unqualified success.”

13

Willard L. Johnson

STANDARD FORMS

The San Francisco Real Estate Board first

developed a standardized purchase contract form

in 1907. It was one legal-sized page (8.5 x 14

inches). It was created by the “uniform forms”

committee of the San Francisco Real Estate

Board, better known today as the standard forms

committee.

This one-page contract served the local market

for many years. In essence, it established an offer

to purchase by a buyer and an acceptance to sell

by an owner of real property, subject only to the

delivery of clear, insurable title to the property.

The payment of a commission to a broker was

recorded on the contract, with no provision for

the sharing of that commission. This one-page

form survived in San Francisco, with some revisions,

into the late 1970s. It was reproduced by

title companies which printed pads of the forms

for use by their brokerage customers.

The California Real Estate Association created

its first standard forms in 1922. Frazier O. Reed,

who was to become president of CREA in 1924,

led the effort to create the first two forms:

an Authorization to Sell, a listing agreement

providing a broker with an exclusive right to market

a property for sale, and a Deposit Receipt, a

14

Signing the merger, seated: presidents Burt Hulting and Alex Cutler; standing: secretaries Dick Harding and O.T. Peterson.

Photo courtesy of Robert Cutler.

15

The first standard purchase contract form developed by the San Francisco Real Estate Board in 1907.

contract between

a buyer and a seller

for the purchase

and sale of real

property. The

purchase contract

allowed for no

conditions, except

for merchantable

title, and provided

that the

buyer’s deposits

could be retained

by the seller as

consideration for

the execution of

the agreement by

the seller in the

event that the

buyer failed to

perform on the contract. Time was stated to be

“the essence of this agreement,” with the proviso

that one thirty-day extension would be allowed at

the discretion of the real estate agent named in

the contract. Payment of a commission to the

named agent was provided for in the contract.

The form was approved by the newly-established

California State Real Estate Department for use

throughout the state.

By 1945, CREA had seven different standard

forms in use. The first significant revision to their

standard purchase contract came in 1954. This

removed the commission paragraph from the

form, requiring an addendum to be written for

commissions to be paid to the broker(s) involved.

In 1978, a revised purchase contract form was

released by the recently renamed California

Association of REALTORS®, still as a one-page

form. In 1984, it was updated. In 1986, following

significant legal decisions, a complete rewrite

extended the form to four legal-sized pages. In

1993, the form was extended again, to six pages,

and in 1994, to eight legal-sized pages. In 1997, it

was revised to include a one-page Buyer’s

Inspection Advisory. In April 2000, the font size

was reduced and the form reconfigured to eight

letter-sized pages, with a two-page Buyer’s

Inspection Advisory. In October 2000, a separate

“Area Edition” contract was produced, aimed at

specific locales in California which were not

using the CAR form, particularly Marin and San

Mateo counties. In October 2002, a consolidated

residential purchase agreement, the RPA-CA,

was approved by the board of directors of the

California Association of REALTORS® for

statewide use, over opposition from some

Southern California brokers.

In San Francisco, successive generations of

standard forms committees have maintained a

purchase contract tailored to local legislative

requirements and business practices. The 1907

one-page contract has developed over time into

today’s seven-page form, which anticipates concurrent

use of the California Association’s Buyer’s

Inspection Advisory. The San Francisco

Association of REALTORS® is one of a small

number of associations in California that now

maintains its own private library of forms on the

forms software platform endorsed and supplied by

the California Association of REALTORS®.

Buying real estate in California has changed in

the last 100 years from a philosophy characterized

by caveat emptor, buyer beware, to one where sellers

are advised to disclose everything they know

about a property they are selling. Today, to support

the complexity of modern real estate

transactions, the California Association maintains

a library of approximately 250 standard

forms, and the San Francisco Association maintains

an additional library of 25 more, of which

the local purchase contract is just one. With the

primary distribution of standard forms being

online, the forms can be updated easily, currently

on a twice-yearly cycle, in April and October.

DISCLOSURE OBLIGATIONS

In 1963, the California Court of Appeal, in a

case called Lingsch v. Savage, found that "where

the seller knows of facts materially affecting the

value or desirability of the property which are

known or accessible only to him and also knows

that such facts are not known to, or within the

reach of the diligent attention and observation of

16

Frazier O. Reed

the buyer, the seller is under the duty to disclose

them to the buyer." A real estate licensee was

held to be equally obligated to disclose actual

knowledge they had concerning the property

being sold.

In 1984, in the landmark decision of Easton v.

Strassburger, the Court of Appeal expanded the

duty of disclosure in residential sales beyond

actual knowledge to include "the affirmative duty

to conduct a reasonably competent and diligent

inspection" of the property "to disclose ... all facts

materially affecting the value or desirability of

the property that such an investigation would

reveal."

The California legislature, with encouragement

from the California Association of

REALTORS®, responded to the Easton case by

clarifying seller and real estate licensee obligations

through Civil Code sections 1102 et seq.

and 2079 et seq. Moreover, the approved form

now in use statewide, the Real Estate Transfer

Disclosure Statement (TDS), was set forth in

Section 1102.6.

Section 2079.3 confirmed important limits

on the Easton obligation by providing that "...the

inspection to be performed pursuant to this article

does not include or involve an inspection of

areas that are reasonably and normally inaccessible

to such an inspection, nor an affirmative

inspection of areas off the site of the subject

property or public records or permits concerning

the title or use of the property."

Furthermore, Section 2079.5 made it clear

that these statutory revisions to Easton were not

intended to relieve the buyer "of the duty to

exercise reasonable care to protect himself or

herself, including those facts which are known to

or within the diligent attention and observation

of the buyer..."

Subsequent cases have further clarified the

duties of sellers and brokers; for example, as a

result of Alexander v. McKnight (1992), sellers

now have a duty to disclose non-physical defects,

including neighborhood conditions.

SFAR developed a Supplement to the TDS in

the 1990s for use with San Francisco property

sales and a General Information document (now

available in three languages) explaining the

numerous considerations that can apply in San

Francisco real estate transactions. CAR has

developed advisories for sellers to inform them of

their disclosure obligations and for buyers to

advise them of the importance of performing

their own inspections using qualified contractors.

In sum, organized real estate has progressed a

long way since the days when sellers claimed no

duty to disclose under the old philosophy of

caveat emptor.

MULTIPLE LISTING SERVICES

Multiple listing services

provide a systematic

means for brokers to

promote properties

they have listed

for sale and to

extend an offer of

compensation to

other members of the

service who cooperate

in the sale by representing a

buyer for the property.

Unlike the word Realtor, the term multiple

listing has an indeterminate origin and is not

trademarked in the United States, although its

usual acronym MLS is trademarked in Canada by

the Canadian Real Estate Association. The term

is thought to have been in general use in the

United States by 1907. However, brokers in

Cincinnati and San Diego are considered to have

operated such services as early as 1887. The San

Diego Realty Board set up a separate corporation

called the “Real Estate Exchange of San Diego.”

Members of this listing bureau agreed to list only

on a standard form providing for “exclusive agency,”

whereby a seller employs one broker only to

market a property.

Multiple listing services did not become well

accepted until the 1920s. The most successful

one in California for many years was started by

the Southwest Branch of the Los Angeles Realty

Board, which was founded on multiple listings in

17

1921. Membership in

the service included

dues to the Los Angeles

Realty Board and to the

state and national associations.

Recognizing the

potential for such

services, the California

Real Estate Association

established a Multiple

Listing Division. For

many years its chairman

was A. C. Hoodenpyle,

who worked tirelessly

helping different boards set up multiple services,

with varying degrees of success.

In San Francisco, the first such service was an

independent one, the Multiple Listing Service of

San Francisco, Inc. The 1948 president of the

San Francisco Real Estate Association, Max F.

Robinson, appointed a committee to initiate the

creation of the first multiple listing service in San

Francisco, an idea which enjoyed strong support

and got underway in 1949. Its bylaws required, as

a prerequisite of membership, that brokers be

members of either the San Francisco Real Estate

Board or the San Francisco Real Estate

Association. This point was one of the factors

that led to the merger of the two groups in 1951.

At a conference in Fresno in the spring of

1952, Frank O. Renstrom, at that time president

of the Multiple Listing Service of San Francisco

and a past president (1950) of the San Francisco

Real Estate Association, reported on the promotional

efforts to popularize the MLS in San

Francisco. “We had advertisements in about 70%

of the public vehicles of San Francisco for a period

of over three months. We circularized every

home in the city with literature. Before that people

were asking ‘What is Multiple Listing Service

and how does it work?’ Now, although we are a

long way from completing the advertising, people

call and say they want their property put into

Multiple Listing Service…. Multiple Listing

Service is to real estate what the stock market is

to stock.”

The concluding talk at the 1952 conference

was given by Irving E. Baker of the Oakland Real

Estate Board on “New and Modern Techniques in

Photographic Transfer and Equipment,” extolling

the virtues of establishing photos as an integral

part of the multiple listing operation. Multilith

equipment was demonstrated to the group, with

an operator reproducing listings and photos.

In 1949 the MLS had been founded with a

charter membership of 137 offices employing over

350 active sales people. It quickly became a very

profitable operation on fees of one dollar per listing

and one percent of the total commission if a

property was sold in-house by a broker after

putting it in the MLS, or three percent of the

commission if the property was sold by a cooperating

broker-member of the MLS.

In 1959 the MLS became a member-owned

stock cooperative, issuing one share of stock per

member, and it paid dividends. The organization

built its own office at 1532 Taraval Street in 1957

and installed its own printing plant. In December

1963, with a subscriber base of 600 offices and

over 2,000 agents, an important milestone was

reached with a sale that took the cumulative total

of sales through the service over the one billion

dollar mark. (By contrast, in 2005, more than

one billion dollars of San Francisco property sales

through the Association’s MLS will be achieved

every quarter.)

Using a Rand McNally map of San Francisco

and the northern peninsula, the MLS divided the

city into major districts for the purposes of distributing

property listing information. The

districts were as follows: Richmond, Sunset,

Parkside, Ocean Avenue, Marina, Western

Addition, Haight Ashbury, Upper Market, West

of Twin Peaks, North Beach, North of Market,

South of Market, Inner Mission, Outer Mission,

Visitacion Valley, and Bayview. Neighborhood

names familiar to us today are conspicuous by

their absence. The Western Addition embraced

Pacific Heights, and the Richmond included

Presidio Heights and Sea Cliff. Nob Hill and

most of Russian Hill were simply parts of the

North of Market area. Noe Valley was split

between the Upper Market and the Inner

18

A. C. Hoodenpyle

Mission, which also included Potrero Hill.

In 1966, the San Francisco Real Estate Board,

led by president John Ritchie, tried to buy the

assets of the MLS. A level of understanding was

reached with its president, Jack Sumski, but some

broker-shareholders within that organization were

determined to maintain its independence. At the

initiative of secretary Richard Loughlin, the San

Francisco Real Estate Board approved the creation

of its own competing multiple listing

system, which to avoid a conflict over the use of

the term MLS was called the REALTORS®

Multiple Sales Service (RMSS). For several years

the two services co-existed, but gradually the

Board-operated service gained majority support.

A lawsuit filed by the MLS of San Francisco

against the Real Estate Board alleging unfair practices

was decided in the Real Estate Board’s favor

by a directed verdict from the judge on December

18, 1978, after a twenty-day jury trial.

The San Francisco Real Estate Board used a

Thomas Brothers map to define its multiple

service districts, which, for the convenience of

the members, at first divided the city into exactly

the same set of districts as the MLS map had

done. Both maps extended into San Mateo

County, servicing Daly City, Colma, and Brisbane

principally, but also including South San

Francisco, San Bruno, Millbrae, Burlingame, and

Pacifica. The Board map went even further

south, however, to Hillsborough and Belmont on

the peninsula, and to Half Moon Bay on the coast.

Now, almost forty years later, the San Francisco

Association of REALTORS® continues to operate

its multiple listing service as a committee of the

Association, rather than as an independent operation

with a separate board of directors. The

current Association map divides the city of San

Francisco into ten districts and, within those

major districts, into as many as sixteen subdistricts.

19

In 1959 the Bay Area Multiple Listing Service became a member-owned stock cooperative,

issuing one share of stock per member.

Original stock certificate courtesy of John Dito.

The districts are referred to within the local brokerage

industry just by their numbers, while the

more than ninety subdistricts are lettered and

usually correspond to individual neighborhoods,

such as Cow Hollow, or they may group together

a few smaller neighborhoods for real estate marketing

purposes. The Association makes minor

boundary changes to its map occasionally, as

neighborhoods subtly change. The map has

become an influential division of the city, being

used as a reference, for example, when San

Francisco’s supervisorial district boundaries were

last redrawn.

SURVIVING THE 1906

EARTHQUAKE AND FIRE

Fourteen months after the founding of the San

Francisco Real Estate Board came an event that

would severely test the resolve of its members.

On Wednesday, April 18, 1906, residents of the

Bay Area were woken up at 5:12 a.m. to an earthquake,

the magnitude of which had never before

been felt in northern California. The 1906 earthquake

was recorded at ninety-six stations around

the world, and data from those seismographs continues

to be studied today. The same instrument

at Gottingen, Germany, 9,100 miles away from

the San Andreas Fault, was in operation during

both the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and the

1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, and comparisons of

those recordings lead scientists to conclude that

about sixteen times more energy was released in

1906 than in 1989. By the logarithmic scale

invented in 1934 by Dr. Charles F. Richter of the

California Institute of Technology, scientists

today now rate the 1906 earthquake at a magnitude

of 7.8. By comparison, the 1989 Loma

Prieta earthquake had a magnitude of 6.9. The

epicenter of the 1906 earthquake was much closer

to San Francisco than was that of the 1989 earthquake,

thereby causing the ground shaking to be

even more intense in the city.

As residents tried to help the injured and assess

the damage, a significant aftershock at 8:14 a.m.

caused further collapse of damaged buildings. But

as damaging as the earthquake and its aftershocks

were, the fires that burned largely out of control

for three days afterwards destroyed much more

property. With most of the water mains broken,

the city fire department had few resources with

which to fight the fires. Compounding their

problems, Chief Dennis T. Sullivan was mortally

wounded when the dome of an adjacent theater

crashed through the roof of the fire station in

which he was living on Bush Street.

The fire would ultimately destroy over 500 city

blocks before it was checked at Van Ness Avenue.

The property loss was estimated by a consulting

engineer for the National Board of Underwriters

to be eighty percent of the property value of the

city before the fire.

Many members of the San Francisco Real

Estate Board suffered a complete loss of their business

offices, since most were based downtown. In

fact, of the thirty founding companies of the

Board, no less than twenty-four had offices on

Montgomery Street, either in the Mills Building,

where the founding meeting had been held, or

within two blocks of it.

Josiah Howell, president of the San Francisco

Real Estate Board, convened a special meeting for

Sunday morning, April 22, 1906 at 1853 Fillmore

Street to discuss what assistance the Board could

provide both to its members and to local government

in the resettlement of displaced residents

and the rebuilding effort. Offers of help poured in

from real estate boards in other parts of the country.

The mayor of Oakland, Frank K. Mott, a real

estate broker and future president of the

California State Realty Federation (1909), had

already communicated with San Francisco mayor

Eugene E. Schmitz, offering Oakland’s assistance.

Mott also used his influence to stop real estate

owners in the East Bay from taking advantage of

the sudden need for accommodation.

San Francisco brokers quickly reestablished

themselves in temporary accommodations.

Baldwin & Howell opened for business in

Presidio Terrace, a new subdivision that they had

just started marketing; Boardman Bros. & Co. set

up at 1928 Vallejo; Shainwald, Buckbee & Co. at

2510 Pacific; Thomas Magee & Sons at 2550

20

Pacific; Madison & Burke at 212

Spruce; and O. D. Baldwin & Son

at 2965 Washington. The majority

of board members found office space

on Fillmore Street, which became

San Francisco’s new commercial

hub. A. J. Rich & Co. moved into

2421, Bovee, Toy & Co. into 2118,

Davidson & Leigh into 2007, Lyon

& Hoag into 1923, B. P. Oliver into

1904, Speck & Co. into 1902,

David Stern & Sons into 1845, and

G. H. Umbsen & Co., who were

able to advertise that they had

saved all of their books and records

from the fire, moved into 905

Fillmore. Within a month, Baldwin

& Howell and O. D. Baldwin &

Son were both to be found at 1912

Fillmore, Madison & Burke were two blocks away

at 2126, and Boardman Bros. & Co. had relocated

to 2325 Fillmore.

At a meeting in Madison & Burke’s temporary

office at 2126 Fillmore, the idea was formulated of

building a group office on the east side of Van

Ness Avenue between Grove and Fulton (where

City Hall is now). But the larger companies were

anxious to return to their downtown locations,

G. H. Umbsen & Co. announcing the rebuilding

of their building at 20 Montgomery Street and

Thomas Magee & Sons obtaining a permit for a

new twelve-story building on Market Street.

Daniel Burnham arrived in New York on a

steamer from Europe on April 26, 1906, and his

immediate reaction to the news of the earthquake

was telegraphed to San Francisco. “If the people of

San Francisco can only pull themselves together,”

he said, “I am confident they will have in a very

short time the finest city in the world. Courage

and work is all that is required and I believe both

will be forthcoming.”

Willis Polk convinced Burnham to reopen a

San Francisco architectural office, which Polk

then ran until July 1910.

Herbert E. Law, owner with his brother

Hartland of the Monadnock Building on Market

Street and the Fairmont Hotel on Nob Hill, both

of which were under construction

at the time of the earthquake and

fire, was keen to get started on

rebuilding. But, he said,

“We must know what the

city proposes to do in the way

of reconstruction. A new

city must rise, built with fire

barriers and capable of handling

existing traffic. It

would be penny-wise and

pound-foolish, in my judgment,

to build anything but a

fire-proof city. I believe that

if the city had been constructed

according to

Burnham’s plans we would

have gotten off with onetenth

of the loss we sustained. It is no

dream, that of rebuilding the city in proper

fashion; we’ve simply got to do it. Men

want to come here and feel that their

money is safe. There will be no trouble

about finances. If Japan can get immense

loans upon a little island where they rock

babies to sleep with earthquakes, it would

be strange if San Francisco with its incidental

earthquake should go unbacked.”

The Law brothers had adequate insurance on

the Monadnock Building, but were under-insured

on the Fairmont Hotel, which had been just

about to open. The structure of the hotel,

designed by the Reid Brothers, withstood the

earthquake, but the interior was burned out. The

Law brothers lamented the loss of William

Baumgarten, the designer of much of the interior

of the hotel, who had dropped dead in New York

on hearing of the disaster. A young architect,

Julia Morgan, supervised the repair of the

Fairmont, which opened on April 18, 1907,

exactly one year after the earthquake.

The first priority for other owners was also to

get their businesses up and running again.

Immediately after the fire, many temporary buildings

were constructed, authorized by permits

issued by the mayor. Permanent replacements

21

W.A. Magee

were commissioned and the San Francisco

Architectural Club calculated that by July 31,

1909, the value of new buildings and alterations

had reached almost $140 million, of which over

half had been spent on class

A, B, or C construction (steel

frame, reinforced concrete

frame, or masonry exterior),

the remainder on wood-frame

construction. Wood-frame

buildings were banned from

the downtown area by ordinance.

The value of the

285,000 tons of steel used in

the replacement buildings was

almost $21 million, a cost of

about $73 per ton.

Another strong earthquake

in Northern California in late

October 1909, provided a

reminder for everyone of

1906, and the Board of

Supervisors soon decreed that

all temporary buildings, of

which no good record had

been maintained, had to be

demolished or removed by

May 1, 1910.

On June 7, 1914, the

Examiner reported the achievement

of Miss Irma Coxe, who

had single-handedly completed

the task of copying

150,000 diagrams of original

real estate surveys of every lot

in San Francisco up to 1906.

The papers had essentially

been “cooked” in a safe in the

old City Hall during the fire.

Coxe painstakingly separated

the charred papers from each

other with a thin blade,

mounting each page on a

linen slate so it could be

handled. After doing so, the

pencilled survey notes and

diagrams became visible, allowing her to reproduce

them. The new volumes of restored records

were placed in fireproof vaults.

22

Menu cover for the Annual Banquet of the San Francisco Real Estate Board,

April 11, 1912, at the Palace Hotel. Image courtesy of the author.

EARLY COMMITTEES

The San Francisco Real Estate Board conducted

business through a well-developed committee

structure. The membership committee took its

responsibilities very seriously, to ensure that only

reputable real estate dealers were admitted to the

membership of the Board. The appraisal committee

implemented a Board public service whereby

any owner, for a reasonable fee, could obtain a

professional and independent appraisal of the

value of their property. The luncheon committee

had the assignment of setting times and locations

for regular luncheon meetings, which

became valuable means of exchanging information

between brokers.

One of the most important luncheons scheduled

each year was the annual installation of new

officers. The menu for the 1912 “Annual

Banquet” at the Palace Hotel displays not just a

feast which would be hard to duplicate for a realistic

price today, but a creative vision of a sold-out

earth where the future opportunities for real

estate dealers were imagined to be inter-galactic!

23

Inside of the menu for the Annual Banquet of the San Francisco Real Estate Board,

April 11, 1912, at the Palace Hotel. Image courtesy of the author.

THE PANAMA-PACIFIC

INTERNATIONAL

EXPOSITION (PPIE)

The idea of holding an exposition in San

Francisco in 1915 to coincide with the opening of

the Panama Canal had surfaced first in 1904.

The treaty with Panama to build the canal was

ratified in February 1904, but businessman

Reuben Brooks Hale had already contacted directors

of the Merchants Association in January to

explore his exposition idea. In the fall of 1906,

Hale revived his idea again, forming a committee

to promote it. In December 1906, the Pacific

Ocean Exposition Co. was incorporated. In the

summer of 1909, the idea was generated of holding

a festival to celebrate the 140th anniversary of

the discovery of San Francisco Bay by Don

Gaspar de Portolá and to show off San Francisco’s

recovery from the April 1906 disaster at the same

time. The Portola Festival, held from October

19–23, 1909, became a big success, with several

foreign governments participating. It also

became a vital precursor to the idea of holding a

much larger international exposition in 1915.

On October 27, 1909, Hale gave a dinner at the

Bohemian Club which resulted in the idea of

mailing 2,500 representative citizens to ask if they

were in favor of the endeavor. One of the signatories

to the letter was Samuel G. Buckbee, then

president of the San Francisco Real Estate Board.

Before all the replies were in, it was decided to

schedule a meeting for December 7 at the

Merchant’s Exchange. Reactions to the letter

had been positive, and a larger meeting was set for

December 29. At that meeting the phrase “San

Francisco Invites the World” was coined. The

first “booster” postal cards were produced immediately,

to be mailed to friends and relatives around

the country promoting San Francisco’s intent.

The Panama-Pacific International Exposition

Company was incorporated on March 11, 1910.

Buckbee and another San Francisco Real Estate

Board founder, Gustave H. Umbsen, became

members of its Ways and Means Committee.

Some Southern California interests were promoting

the idea of holding the exposition in San

Diego. The conviction grew that there should be

no division on the main objective of holding the

exposition in California. William May Garland,

a founder of the Los Angeles Realty Board and its

president in 1909 and 1910, writing in the Los

Angeles Examiner, said,

The Exposition, which I think will be one

of the grandest affairs ever held in this

country, and worthy [of] the support of the

three great States facing upon the Pacific,

should be held in the geographical and logical

center of the Pacific Slope, San

Francisco. All portions of the Pacific Coast

24

A Call Building postcard used to “boost” for San Francisco.

Postcard courtesy of the author.

should join hands and cooperate in making

this one of the greatest successes in the history

of the country. It will mark the

completion of the greatest commercial

achievement ever undertaken by the

United States.

The Chamber of Commerce of San Francisco

canvassed commercial organizations in the state,

and a convention was called to meet in Santa

Barbara on March 22, 1910. Delegates representing

fifty cities and almost every county in the

state resolved that San Francisco was the “obvious

and logical” place and endorsed it, calling on

the whole state to support San Francisco’s application.

A public subscription meeting was

called for April 28, 1910, on the floor

of the Merchant’s Exchange. The

eyes of the country were on San

Francisco to see if the businessmen of

the city were prepared to commit

their own money to the effort. The

San Francisco Real Estate Board

made one of the earliest pledges that

afternoon in the amount of $70,000

(equivalent to over $1.4 million in

2005 dollars). By the end of the day,

an astounding aggregate total of

$4,089,000 had been raised. The

amount electrified the community.

One of the earliest acts of the

Exposition Directorate after the subscription

meeting was to send a delegation to Washington

to begin the effort of securing federal recognition.

The members included James N. Gillett, the governor

of California; P. H. McCarthy, the mayor of

San Francisco; James Rolph, Jr., the president of

the Merchant’s Exchange, who was to succeed

McCarthy as mayor in the fall of 1911; and

William May Garland of the Los Angeles Realty

Board.

From Louisiana came a similar delegation led

by Governor Sanders advocating that New

Orleans was “The Logical Point” for the exposition,

based largely on the idea that New Orleans

was closer to a greater percentage of the U.S. population.

Sixty-five million people were said to be

within one and one-half days’

travel of New Orleans and

only six million could

reach San Francisco within

the same time.

Intensive campaigning

by personal visits to representatives

and many

postcards and telegrams resulted,

but a significant push was needed on behalf of

San Francisco. The governor of California

endorsed the Exposition directors’ call for a mass

meeting, again on the floor of the Merchant’s

Exchange, on June 16, 1910. It was reported

there that the $4,089,000 raised seven weeks

before had grown to $5,033,805,

and there were pledges for even

more. The meeting lifted the total

of public subscriptions to

$6,156,840, but the most significant

result was the idea of a San

Francisco $5 million

tax-exempt bond issue. At the

November 8, 1910, election, a $5

million state tax amendment was

approved in addition to the local

bond issue for $5 million, so that by

the middle of November the exposition

had a total of $16 million at

its disposal. These amounts proved

to be critical in obtaining the

agreement of the House and Senate, and early in

1911 victory was won. A resolution awarding the

exposition to San Francisco was signed by

President Taft on February 15, 1911.

The Panama-Pacific International Exposition

(PPIE) was a huge success in 1915, opening on

February 20 and closing on December 4. The

success was made more remarkable by the fact

that a war had been underway in Europe since

August 1914. Over thirteen million paid visits

were made to the exposition, many to coincide

with meetings and conventions of fraternal societies

or business groups. July 1, 1915, was declared

to be National Real Estate Association Day.

The central group of courts and palaces of the

PPIE was built on land leased for the duration of

25

William May Garland

the exposition in an area known then as Harbor

View, but better known today as the Marina

district. An everlasting reminder of the PPIE for

San Franciscans and visitors is the Palace of Fine

Arts and Lagoon, designed by Bernard Maybeck,

which had anchored the western end of the central

group. This soulful composition was so

widely appreciated that a popular effort ensured it

was not demolished after the exposition closed

along with the rest of what were only intended to

be temporary structures.

THE POST-WORLDWAR I PERIOD

A number of events and concerns about commercial

investments in Europe triggered the

United States entering World War I in 1917.

President Woodrow Wilson announced the break

in diplomatic relations with Germany to

Congress on February 3, 1917, and Congress formally

declared war on April 6. It would be

eighteen months before the German forces

acknowledged defeat and petitioned the Allies for

an Armistice, signed in France on November 11,

1918. Kaiser Wilhelm II had abdicated on

November 9, going into exile in the Netherlands,

in the face of a German revolution which led to

the start of the Weimar Republic.

William May Garland of Los Angeles was president

of the National Association of Real Estate

Boards (NAREB) in 1917. Both he and the

NAREB secretary, Thomas S. Ingersoll, were

drafted by President Wilson into serving the

nation and organized the cooperation of real

estate brokers nationwide to supply the government

with sites for cantonments, office buildings,

shipyards, and military housing. Garland’s work

was valued so highly that the national association

re-elected him to serve as president in 1918.

Garland was paid a nominal one dollar per year

for his service, and the industry was proud that not

a single charge of profiteering was made against

real estate brokers anywhere in the country.

In 1921, Tom Ingersoll gave up his prestigious

job as secretary of NAREB to move out to Los

Angeles, an idea that had been in his mind since

1915, when he visited the fast-growing metropolis

during the first national convention held in

California. He became secretary of the Los

Angeles Realty Board, a position he held until he

died in 1933. Both the Los Angeles Realty Board

and the California Real Estate Association had

offices in the W.

M. Garland

Building on

Spring Street in

Los Angeles.

Garland,

although not a

president of the

state association,

was one of the

first to be awarded

the title of honorary

president.

In the early 1920s,

Garland worked

diligently to

secure the 1932

Olympics for Los Angeles and continued through that

decade as president of the Tenth Olympiad organizing

committee to ensure the event’s success.

In San Francisco, the demand for housing

increased after the war as troops who had passed

through the Bay Area in 1917 and 1918 were

demobilized and decided to return to seek

employment. Rental apartments were much in

demand, and many Victorian structures in the

city were turned into boarding houses or torn

down to be replaced with apartment buildings.

Cooperative apartment ownership ventures, the

first of which had been promoted just before

World War I, became popular for residents who

preferred to own rather than rent. But for tenants,

there was no shortage of options for rental

apartments as a building boom got underway.

One architect of quality Art Deco era buildings,

H. C. Baumann, reported that in one twelvemonth

period between 1927 and 1928, he had

designed no fewer than 137 apartment buildings!

Apartment house owners competed to offer the

most up-to-date features and promoted the convenience

of having a single landlord or manager

26

Thomas S. Ingersoll

to deal with, as

opposed to several

other cooperative

apartment owners.

1928 saw the

introduction of the

San Francisco Real

Estate Board Year

Book, which was to

be produced continuously

through 1991.

The Year Book

served as a complete

reference book for

the local real estate

broker as well as a

diary in which to

schedule appointments and keep notes. The initial

price was $1.75 for members and $3.00 for

non-members. It was replaced, starting in 1992,

with a Sourcebook, which omitted the diary section.

Initial reactions from many long-time

members caused both the Year Book and

Sourcebook to be offered in 1993, but that

became the final year of the Year Book, which is

still missed by some.

In June 1928, the California Real Estate

Association, under the direction of secretary Glenn

D. Willaman, began an annual series of special

issues of its California Real Estate Magazine publication,

called the

“State Growth

and Progress

Number.” These

issues provided an

array of statistics

on population

growth, farm output,

natural gas

and petroleum

production, bank

deposits, schools

and colleges, miles

of paved highways,

and many

other subjects.

By the time of

its twenty-fifth

anniversary in

1930, the state association

was proud

to point out that

the state had a

REALTOR® governor

in office, C.

C. Young from

Alameda, elected

in 1927, and had

also provided two

national association

presidents.

Named an honorary

president of

CREA, C. C. Young

had been a teacher at Lowell High School in San

Francisco. Harry B. Allen, president of the San

Francisco Real Estate Board 1923–1924 and president

of the state association in 1927, had been

one of Young’s pupils. At the national level,

Harry H. Culver, from Culver City, had just completed

his year as president in 1929. William

May Garland from Los Angeles was still the only

individual to have served two terms as national

president, in 1917 and 1918.

THE GREAT DEPRESSION

TAKES HOLD

National association membership peaked at

almost 19,000 in 1930, but the effects of the stock

market crash of November 1929 and the resulting

Great Depression saw membership drop back to

just over 10,000 by 1935. Membership in

California, which had peaked at over 4,000 in

1929, dropped to just over 1,500 in 1933, but

recovered to almost 3,000 by 1935. California

had its second REALTOR® governor in office,

Frank Finley Merriam from Long Beach, who succeeded

James Rolph, Jr. upon Rolph’s death in

1934 and was inaugurated in 1935 for a four-year

term. Merriam was also an honorary president of

the California Real Estate Association and for

almost twenty years, until just prior to his death

27

Glenn D. Willaman

Governor C.C. Young

H.C. Baumann

in 1955, he installed CREA’s new officers at the

January meetings.

San Francisco continued to grow despite the

Depression, supported by completion of the

O’Shaughnessy Dam and the Hetch Hetchy

Aqueduct in 1934. The “outside lands” (the

Richmond and Sunset districts) were under

development, and the need for land for housing

had triggered the relocation of cemeteries beyond

the city’s southern border.

Construction of San Francisco’s two major

bridges had begun in 1933. Both set different

world records in the process for overall length and

suspension span. The Bay Bridge opened to automobile

traffic on November 12, 1936, and the

Golden Gate Bridge had its official opening day

on May 27, 1937.

Another World’s Fair was called for in the

1930s, and the voters approved the idea of the

Golden Gate International Exposition (GGIE).

Four hundred acres of land adjacent to Yerba

Buena Island were being dredged in 1935, initially

as a Works Progress Administration (WPA)

project. Later called Treasure Island, it was originally

intended to become San Francisco’s new

international airport. Instead, this man-made

island became the site for the GGIE, which

opened on February 18, 1939. The San Francisco

Real Estate Board promoted “one of the greatest

homes shows ever held in this country” during

the exposition. From May 15 to October 1, visiting

REALTORS® were invited to tour the host

home at the GGIE, followed by bus or limousine

tours to thirty architect-designed model homes in

five Bay Area counties – Alameda, Contra Costa,

Marin, San Francisco, and San Mateo. Former

governor C. C. Young was given the key to officially

open the Baldwin & Howell-sponsored host

home. The photograph on the next page with its

original caption includes Walter P. Laufenberg of

Baldwin & Howell, who was president of the San

Francisco Real Estate Board in 1935, 1936, and

1939 and would become president of CREA in

1943. The thirty-fifth annual CREA convention

was held in Oakland June 11–17, 1939, and

Tuesday and Wednesday “caravan” tours were

organized to show the model homes to

convention attendees. “REALTORS® day” at the

Exposition was designated to be June 12, 1939.

San Franciscans were beginning to feel a little

unlucky at the timing of their world’s fairs as,

once again, hostilities threatened in Europe.

Attendance at the Exposition in 1939 was not as

great as hoped, and it was decided to re-open it

for another season in 1940, from May 25 to

September 29. REALTORS® day that year was

June 28. Unlike the 1915 PPIE, the GGIE was

not a financial success, despite being open for two

seasons.

In April 1941, the Navy took over Treasure

Island and the city would not get it back until

1997. The idea of Treasure Island being the city’s

new international airport was gone, and in 1945

San Francisco voters approved a one million dollar

bond measure for an expansion of Mills Field

in San Bruno.

28

Governor Frank Finley Merriam

IMPACT OF

THE SECONDWORLDWAR

Great Britain and the Commonwealth countries

formally declared war to stop German

aggression against the rest of Europe on

September 3, 1939. During 1940 and 1941, the

United States provided material assistance to

Britain without formally engaging in the war, but

the bombing of Pearl Harbor on the morning of

December 7, 1941, led to an immediate declaration

of war against Japan, which was followed the

next day by Germany and Italy declaring war on

the United States. World War II would last for

almost four more years.

The San Francisco Real Estate Board responded

by establishing panels of experts to answer

pre-inductees’ questions, free of charge, on real

estate, insurance, banking, business, and legal

issues.

As it had during World War I, the federal government

put rent controls in place during World

War II. In 1943, the San Francisco Real Estate

Board was provoked into protesting to its congressmen

in Washington about the “socialistic

philosophy” expressed by Paul Porter, deputy

administrator in charge of rent control for

the Office of Price Administration (OPA).

According to Raymond D. Smith, Executive Vice

President of the Board, Porter had been quoted as

29

Reprinted from California Real Estate Magazine, June 1939.

saying, “It is open to question whether home

ownership should be encouraged among middle

and lower income groups,” and that “the country

might be better off if the working class were

migratory.”

The Board’s response, articulated by Smith, was

Our country is founded on home ownership.

It is not the rent control law to which

we object, but the rules and regulations and

basic philosophy with which it is being

administered. Unless we preserve the right

to property and freedom of individual

action, we will have lost the war, even if we

conquer the (enemy).

Just over sixty years later, the present board of

the San Francisco Association of REALTORS®

would probably echo those words.

In 1943, the San Francisco Real Estate Board

lost one of its greatest assets, Leslie E. Burks, who

fell ill during the

year and died on

September 30. Burks

was an attorney by

training and had

been recruited to

join the Board in

1907, becoming its

first full-time employee,

known then as

the Secretary. His

brother, Chester W.

Burks, took over as

Secretary of the

Chamber of Commerce

at about the

same time. Leslie

Burks’s stature grew, along with his experience,

first in California and later nationwide. He

became known in real estate as the “Dean of

American Secretaries.”

The title for the position has evolved over

the years. It became Secretary-Manager, later

Association Executive or Chief Executive Officer,

and now, is more commonly titled Executive Vice

President (EVP). The function is that of executing

the actions of the board of directors,

administering the day-to-day operations of an

association, managing staff, and providing continuity

for the volunteer leadership—the elected

board of directors and committee chairs. Burks

served the San Francisco Real Estate Board in

this capacity for thirty-six years. James C. Fabris,

the present holder of the position, joined the

association in 1971 and is close to equaling

Burks’s tenure.

The state and

national associations

have been similarly fortunate

in selecting and

keeping well-regarded

administrators of their

operations. California

has twice provided the

national executive officer,

with Eugene P.

Conser, state EVP from

1946 to 1955, then

serving the national

association until 1970,

and H. Jackson Pontius,

who followed him in

both roles, remaining national EVP until 1978.

The current EVP of the California Association

of REALTORS®, Joel S. Singer, has held the

position since 1989 and is regarded as one of the

most influential and highly respected people in

real estate today, nationwide.

UNITED NATIONS FORMATION

The attention of the world was on San

Francisco in 1945 when a fifty-nation conference

met in the city to establish the United Nations.

The term “United Nations” had been coined by

President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1941 to

describe the countries fighting against the Axis

powers. It was first used officially on January 1,

1942, when twenty-six countries joined in the

“Declaration by the United Nations,” pledging

themselves to continue their joint war effort and

not to negotiate a peace individually. As the war

continued, plans were made to make the “United

Nations” into a permanent organization, one that

30

Leslie E. Burks

Eugene P. Conser

would supplant the old League of Nations and be

more influential. All countries that had declared

war on Germany or Japan by March 1, 1945, were

called to a founding conference held at the War

Memorial Opera House in the Civic Center from

April 25 to June 26, 1945. The American delegates

were led by Edward R. Stettinius, Secretary

of State, and included Congressman Sol Bloom,

then seventy-five years old, who had grown up in

San Francisco. The result was a Charter which

was signed on June 26 and ratified by the required

number of countries by October 24, which is now

designated as United Nations Day. The San

Francisco Real Estate Board took pride in the

attention being cast on the city with full-page

advertisements in the California Real Estate magazine

that proclaimed that “The Eyes of the

World are Focused on San Francisco.” The city

was “The Pacific Gateway to America and the

Western Portal to the Far East.”

THE DEBATE OVER

REAL ESTATE COMMISSIONS

When real estate dealers first grouped together

in local boards or associations, to them an important

part of bringing order to the business was the

establishment of fair commission schedules for

the services provided, such as sales, leasing, and

property management. In their view, owners had

a right to be protected against exorbitant charges,

while reputable brokers with knowledge and

experience had a right to fair compensation for

the services rendered.

Although anti-trust legislation had been in

existence since the Sherman Act of 1890, it was

over fifty years after the formation of the earliest

boards that the question of publishing commission

schedules began to be viewed as

anti-competitive. The California Real Estate

Association and seventeen named local boards

and multiple listing services, which did not

include San Francisco, were defendants in an

anti-trust suit brought by the State of California.

CREA was defended by Moses Lasky, then a partner

in the San Francisco firm of Brobeck, Phleger

& Harrison. The result was a consent decree

entered into on August 21, 1962, that required

the defendants to cancel any published commission

schedules within three months and

prohibited multiple listing services from refusing

to accept listings because of the commission rate

offered. It did not prohibit individual brokers

from setting their own schedules of fees and it

allowed that boards could survey members on fees

in order to be able to respond to inquiries from

the public as to the commission fees generally

charged in the area.

Ever since, real estate firms have been careful

not to discuss what fees they charge with each

other, and multiple listing systems are designed to

show only what fee is being offered to the cooperating

broker, and not the total fee.

THE BOOM YEARS

LEAD TO CONTROLS

After the war ended in 1945, the United States

economy took time to recover, but as families put

their lives back together again, creating the generation

of “baby boomers” in the process, the

demand for housing resumed. Rent control had

been imposed under federal law in 1942, and concentration

on the war effort had meant that new

housing production had been minimal. In 1946,

Congress had acted to remove governmental controls

over prices and wages, but that did not

extend to rents. By 1947, it was apparent that the

continuation of rent control, after other price

controls were removed, was making the housing

shortage chronic and discouraging the production

of badly needed new rental units. The Federal

Rent Law of 1948 contained a provision authorizing

“Local Option” decontrol, and some states

took advantage of that. The 1950 law finally provided

for mandatory decontrol on December 31,

1951, but the war in Korea caused the postponement

of that termination date to September 30,

1952. A local council could declare a “critical

shortage,” which San Francisco did, extending

rent control in the city to June 1953, after which

it was terminated for twenty-five years.

31

In 1971, the San Francisco Real Estate Board

developed and published a public service booklet

called “Guidelines for Improved Owner-Renter

Relations,” emphasizing the benefits to be

obtained from improved communications and a

mutual respect for each other’s rights. Vacancy

rates for residential apartments seemed to be stabilized

in a range of four to six percent.

But in 1978, San Francisco’s Board of

Supervisors approved a politically popular downzoning

of residential neighborhoods. Height

limits and densities were reduced, resulting in a

virtual drying up of new apartment construction.

Supervisor Quentin Kopp (later an independent

state senator and recently retired from the San

Mateo County Superior Court) was one of only

three to vote against the plan, predicting that a

housing shortage would be created that would

drive the middle class out of the city. The results

were felt almost immediately.

By 1979, the pressure on accommodation in

San Francisco was such that tenant activists were

able to persuade the Board of Supervisors and

Mayor Dianne Feinstein that San Francisco

should reintroduce rent control. A protracted

struggle over the eviction of poor and elderly

Filipino tenants from the old International Hotel

on Kearny Street spawned a generation of tenant

activists. Further, the widespread raising of rents

by two of San Francisco’s largest landlords in

1979 caused large groups of working class and

middle class tenants to lobby local politicians for

relief. The San Francisco Board of Supervisors

first passed a sixty-day rent freeze, but before it

had even expired, on June 13, 1979, a new

Residential Rent Stabilization and Arbitration

Ordinance was signed into law.

The first finding in the Ordinance states:

There is a shortage of decent, safe and

sanitary housing in the City and County of

San Francisco resulting in a critically low

vacancy factor.

With that as a starting premise, rent control

was enacted, with protection for tenants from

eviction without cause and annual rent increase

limits in the range of four to seven percent. The

actual percentage was to be determined annually

by the Board of Supervisors. Owner-occupied

buildings of four units or less were exempt, along

with new buildings completed after the date of

enactment. An even more stringent measure

placed on the November 1979 ballot by tenant

groups, Proposition R, which included restrictions

on the rents of vacant units, was soundly defeated

by a fifty-nine to forty-one percent margin.

But since 1979, tenant groups have succeeded

in getting San Francisco voters to approve a

reduction in the permitted annual rent increase

percentage to sixty percent of the Bay Area

Consumer Price Index increase for the San

Francisco-Oakland Metropolitan Area (effective

December 8, 1992), which has meant a less than

one percent increase in recent years, and removed

the exemption from rent control of owner-occupied

four-or-less unit buildings (effective May 1,

1994).

Twenty-five years after its enactment, San

Francisco rent control is being called into question.

Studies have shown that it is not

benefitting the people it was intended to help—

the poorer families. Over twenty percent of

households in rent-controlled apartments have

annual incomes exceeding $100,000, and over

seventy-five percent of households in rent-controlled

apartments have no children. Many small

property owners prefer to keep units vacant rather

than rent them under the controls. One perversity

of the San Francisco real estate market is that

buildings are worth more with vacant units in

them when owners elect to sell, because of the

shortage of property with available units which

can be owner-occupied.

CONDOMINIUM OWNERSHIP AND

LIMITATIONS ON CONVERSIONS

One of the primary reasons for the shortage of

property to buy in San Francisco is the incredibly

restrictive limit on the number of condominium

units that can be converted each year. Since

1982, that limit has been 200 units per year, with

32

a complete ban on converting buildings of more

than six residential units. Since there are approximately

400,000 units in San Francisco, that

means only one-twentieth of one percent of the

housing stock of the city can be converted to

ownership housing per year.

Condominiums became popular in the early

1960s. Prior to that, the most common form of

multiple ownership of buildings was the stock

cooperative, introduced to San Francisco in 1912

by developer and San Francisco Real Estate Board

member William F. Chipman, who pioneered the

idea of what were then called “community

homes.” In a cooperative, the members own

stock in a non-profit mutual benefit corporation,

rather than real property. The corporation in

turn owns the building, and the members have

perpetual leases to their apartments. Following

passage of the Housing Act of 1961, the Federal

Housing Authority (FHA) announced that it

could now insure mortgages made on individual

condominium units, which opened up the secondary

mortgage market for condominium loans.

Legislation followed to enable conventional

lenders to lend on condominiums and to resell

those loans as securities.

In San Francisco, the first major building to

convert to condominiums was the highrise at 631

O’Farrell Street. Designed in 1929 by Albert H.

Larsen for the Paso Robles Realty Company, it

had started life as the Alexander Hamilton Hotel,

named after one of the Founding Fathers.

Hamilton was appointed by George Washington

in 1789 as the first Secretary of the Treasury and

he is credited with installing the basis of our modern

financial system in the United States. The

Hamilton, as the building is now simply known,

was reconfigured from over 400 hotel suites to

198 condominium units, including a spectacular

penthouse. The condominium map was recorded

on October 10, 1962, and the first sales were

recorded on March 18, 1963. A 1,000 square foot

one-bedroom unit on the fifteenth floor that cost

$31,000 in March 1963 was sold in May 2002 for

$419,000. A CPI comparison of the relative

value of $31,000 in 1963 gives $182,000 in 2002.

Condominiums are the affordable housing

component for many families and individuals in

San Francisco and have proven to be a good

investment. But with comparatively little land

available on which to build new condominium

buildings, and a prohibition on converting buildings

with more than six units, the current laws are

depriving tenants of opportunities to buy property

and build equity.

THE TECHNOLOGICAL

REVOLUTION HITS REAL ESTATE

Automation first came to real estate through

MLS systems. While the application has never

been on the leading edge of computer science and

has never had the criticality of, say, a banking system,

it has nevertheless taken advantage of

advances in computer and telecommunications

technology.

Many people still working in the profession

today can remember the distribution of listing

information on punched cards first, then in a

weekly book form, then accessible online at 300

baud through teletype machines, and gradually

advancing to the high speeds of today’s Internet

connections from a variety of devices, many of

them wireless. The search and retrieval of relevant

property data is now virtually instantaneous,

as is the notification speed to other members

when a new property has been submitted to the

multiple listing service.

Photographic technology has progressed from

simple black and white images taken by a photographer

hired by the MLS to digital photography

and virtual tours shot, sometimes by professionals

but in many cases by the real estate agents themselves.

Along the way, the San Francisco

Association of REALTORS® was the first organization

in the Bay Area to implement online color

photographs for its listed properties in 1991.

The last fifteen years of Internet development

have transformed the real estate industry. In

1990, Tim Berners-Lee conceptualized the

World Wide Web. In 1993, Netscape produced

its first browser, to be answered by Microsoft

with Internet Explorer in 1995. In 1994, Yahoo

33

developed the first online directory, including a

basic search engine, and had developed into a

recognized portal to the Internet space by 1997.

The search engine function was further refined by

Google, beginning in 1998.

The National Association of REALTORS®

launched a public Internet site, www.realtor.com,

in 1997, giving consumers an online tool to help

them perform their own property searches and

connect with REALTORS® nationwide. The

National Association of REALTORS® also made

mandatory by January 2002 the implementation

of an Internet Data Exchange (IDX) policy that

allows MLS participants to display the available

listings of the MLS’s of which they are members

on their own websites. The current debate in the

industry revolves around the concept of the

“virtual office,” the ability for a broker to establish

an online presence with which to serve an

area, without having a “bricks and mortar” office

there.

Technological developments will take us

soon into completely paperless transactions.

Transaction documents can be prepared online,

transmitted as attachments to e-mail messages,

signed by applying electronic signatures, reviewed

on a screen in image form, and archived to a CD

when completed. State legislation is already in

place to permit electronic recording in county

recorders’ offices.

THE NEXT 100 YEARS

After reviewing the past 100 years of real estate

brokerage in San Francisco in the context of

what was happening in California and in the rest

of the United States, it is tempting to try to forecast

the future. We can be reasonably sure of the

following.

The ownership and development of real estate

will continue to be an excellent investment for

many people. The need for brokers to advise buyers

and sellers on real estate investment

opportunities will continue to exist. The availability

of real estate information online will make

buyers better educated before they establish

contact with a real estate broker. Increasing

disclosure obligations will make it less attractive

for sellers to try to represent themselves. The

value of the three levels of real estate trade associations,

not just to their own members, but to

property owners in general, will be enhanced as

government regulations and restrictions on property

rights increase.

Real estate brokerage companies have evolved

in the last twenty-five years into three categories:

the national “brand” company, which operates its

own offices or franchises the name; the local

independent company, which may have multiple

offices but operates primarily within one geographic

area; and the small “boutique” office,

perhaps with just one or two principals and limited

support staff. The challenge for the trade

associations is to continue to serve each of those

categories in an equitable manner. How well they

do that will determine the shape of organized real

estate in 2105.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

David Parry has been a full-time San Francisco real

estate broker since 1986. He has served three terms

as a director of the San Francisco Association of

REALTORS®, was named REALTOR® of the

Year in 1998, and served as its president in 2002.

He is a director of the California Association of

REALTORS® and also of its business technology

subsidiary, REBT, and he represents San Francisco’s

4,500 REALTOR® members as a director of the

National Association of REALTORS®.

David has written a column on Pacific Heights

architects for the New Fillmore neighborhood

newspaper since January 2001 and uploads the

articles to his website, www.classicSFproperties.com,

after publication. He was the only person who was a

board member of both the San Francisco Historical

Society and the Museum of the City of San Francisco

prior to the merger in November 2001.

34

35

SAN FRANCISCO REAL ESTATE BOARD

PRESIDENTS 1905–51

SFREB/SFBOR/SFAR

PRESIDENTS 1952–2005

1905, 1906 – Josiah R. Howell

1907 – Edgar L. Hoag

1908, 1909 – Samuel G. Buckbee

1910, 1911 – George D. Toy

1912, 1913 – A. L. Harrigan

1914 – Samuel G. Buckbee

(resigned)

1914, 1915 – O. C. Stine

1916 – Samuel G. Buckbee

1917, 1918 – R. C. Newell

1919, 1920 – Louis H. Mooser

1921, 1922 – Colbert Coldwell

1923, 1924 – Harry B. Allen

1925, 1926 – George C. Boardman

1927, 1928 – Fred C. Boeckmann

1928, 1929 – Louis J. Pfau, Jr.

1930 – L. A. Weidenmuller

1931, 1932 – John A. Sullivan

1933 – Vincent F. Finigan

1933, 1934 – Charles W. Brock

1935, 1936 – W. P. Laufenberg

* 1936 – Chester MacPhee

1937, 1938 – W. O. Lang

* 1937 – William Traner

* 1938 – David F. Supple

1939 – W. P. Laufenberg

* 1939 – William J. Davis

1940, 1941 – Fred E. Palmer

* 1940 – W. Park Cunningham

* 1941 – Fred Braun

1942, 1943 – Vincent T. Mead

* 1942 – Mitchell E. Cutler

* 1943 – B. A. Bridges

1944, 1945 – George R. Roberts

* 1944 – Joseph Sala

* 1945 – James C. Kinard

1946, 1947 – James Hurst

* 1946 – Cleland O. Whitton

* 1947 – Walter Gordon

1948 – Willard L. Johnson

* 1948 – Max F. Robinson

1949 – Shepard S. Tucker

* 1949 – Allan F. Mori

1950 – Edward W. Arnold

* 1950 – Frank O. Renstrom

1951 – F. Burt Hulting

* 1951 – Alexander Cutler

* President, San Francisco Real

Estate Association (organized in

1935; agreement of merger with

the San Francisco Real Estate

Board ratified July 10, 1951)

1952 – Alexander Cutler

1953 – Kenneth H. Smitten

1954 – Lloyd D. Hanford

1955 – Fred Braun

1956 – J. Mortimer Clark

1957 – Peter G. Shields

1958 – Kenneth H. Smitten

1959, 1960 – Dale F. Farnow

1961 – William T. Hogan

1962 – Howard McGurrin

1963 – Mitchell E. Cutler

1964 – Richard E. Horberg

1965 – Albert Simmons

1966 – John Ritchie

1967 – Donald J. Gordon

1968 – Lincoln G. Holmgren

1969 – Richard S. Hyman

1970 – Clyde C. Cournale

1971 – O.A. (Bill) Talmage

1972 – Milton I. Mack

1973 – Michael F. McCormac

1974, 1975 – Frederic S. Freund

1976 – David F. Gallagher

1977 – Wallace Marinko

1978 – Robert H. Guggenheim

1979 – Robert C. Amore

1980 – Nicki Boberg

1981 – Ronald J. Strayer

1982 – Raymond I. Brown

1983 – Andrew H. Stone

1984 – Richard A. Bocci

1985 – Richard M. Sax

1986 – William L. Jansen

1987 – William C. Drypolcher

1988 – Grace J. Perkins

1989 – Victor G. Makras

1990 – Allen M. Okamoto

1991 – Helen Dawson

1992 – Al Clifford

1993 – Vincent E. Malta

1994 – Ronald E. Bansemer

1995 – John A. Christen

1996 – Joanne M. McEachern

1997 – Donald Q. Saunders

1998 – Charles E. Moore

1999 – Curt Cournale

2000 – Jeannie M. Anderson

2001 – Ric A. Rocchiccioli

2002 – David Parry

2003 – Timothy J. Cannon

2004 – Dona Crowder

2005 – John Yen Wong


David Parry
David Parry
Broker
2001 Lombard St. San Francisco CA 94123