It may come as a surprise to many Americans (we’re really the only one’s that use the term) that the word we define the profession of real estate agent, “realtor,” is actually a trademark. Additionally – have you ever wondered why so many agents describe themselves with the all-cap REALTOR®? Turns out that, according to NAR (the National Association of Realtors), that is the only proper way to post the term (reserved for members only). Now that that’s been acknowledged I’m not going to worry too much how it’s presented in the rest of the article – fair use right?
In order for an agent to call themselves a realtor they must be a member of NAR – the organization that trademarked the term way back in 1949. The story begins earlier though when the then-chairman of NAR C.N. Chadbourn proposed the term in 1916. As part of the trademark case that established ownership of the term decades later, the organization was able to demonstrate that the word “realtor” has simply not existed until that point.
Thanks to the magic of Google Book’s Ngram Viewer you can see how usage took off after 1916 and you can even see the drop off after the 1929 peak as the industry dealt with the Great Depression.
In time, the term became has become so ubiquitous that unless you are a part of the industry you could be forgiven for thinking it’s always existed but that’s not the case as this video from NAR would like to remind you.
So there you have it! The history of the term REALTOR® – hope you found it informative and hope you connect with a great agent or REALTOR® on Relola soon!