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Happy Bi_thday to the _EALTO_® T_adema_k!

Editor’s note: After 100 years, it’s easy to forget how important one little innovation is, especially if it’s something you use every day. Inspired by a recent Bert’s Bees campaign that publicized the plight of honeybees by eliminating the Bs in their posts, I thought a good way to draw attention to the importance of the REALTOR® “R” would be to see what life would be like without our ever-important Rs. If you enjoy what you see, tweet about it (with no Rs!) with the hashtag #ProtecttheR. —Meg White

chadbourn-1In _esea_ching the o_igins of the wo_d _EALTO_® in p_epa_ation fo_ this piece about the new consume_ adve_tising campaign was fascinating. It was a centu_y ago tomo_ _ow, on Ma_ch 25, 1916, that the man who coined this impo_tant te_m, Minneapolis _eal estate p_actitione_ Cha_les N. Chadbou_n, sold it to the association that would someday come to be known as the National Association of _EALTO_S® fo_ a dolla_. One dolla_! I mean, I know a buck was wo_th mo_e back then, but I think he was selling his genius invention sho_t.

And of cou_se he was, because his motive wasn’t p_ofit. Chadbou_n wanted to help his association as much as he wanted to help consume_s unde_stand how to find a _eal estate agent they could t_ust. In the ea_ly 20th Centu_y, consume_s had to abide by the edict, “buye_ bewa_e.” Just to give you an idea, this was a time when medicines we_e spiked with lead, a_senic, and _adioactive mate_ials that claimed to cu_e a wide _ange of ailments. So the notion of a league of p_ofessionals bound by a code of ethics was _elatively novel. Though the association had established thei_ Code of Ethics in 1913, the_e was little to distinguish those who lived and wo_ked unde_ it f_om the _est of the c_owd.

So how did Chadbou_n even come up with the wo_d _EALTO_®? He late_ _ecounted his eu_eka moment being spu__ed in late 1915, when “a news-u_chin on the st_eet th_ust a pape_ unde_ my nose bea_ing the flaming headlines, ‘_eal Estate Man An Embezzle_,’ and impo_tuned me to buy and _ead, ‘all about the big scandal in a _eal estate office!’” He late_ lea_ned that the embezzle_ in question didn’t even belong to the association. Being unde_standably f_ust_ated by the bad publicity f_om this non-membe_, Chadbou_n decided to act. He invented the wo_d “_EALTO_®” to _efe_ to fellow membe_s and late_ convinced his local boa_d in Minneapolis to begin using the wo_d to diffe_entiate themselves f_om the “cu_bstone_s, _iff_aff, and sha_ks” out the_e who we_en’t beholden to the code.

It seems wei_d today to think of a wo_ld whe_e the wo_d _EALTO_® didn’t al_eady exist. When I talk to people outside of the _eal estate indust_y about the wo_d, they just assume it’s always been a_ound, since the t_ansfe_ of _eal estate was p_ofessionalized in the United States. They’_e fu_the_ imp_essed by the fo_ethought of an o_ganization that championed this distinction befo_e t_adema_k law even allowed the _egist_ation of collective ma_ks. And they should be, as we all a_e imp_essed by the passion that lead to this c_eative outbu_st of activity on behalf of the man who would late_ become known as “Fathe_ _EALTO_®.” In his wo_ds, “Its close mental association with the wo_d ‘_ealty’ makes it easy to unde_stand and _emembe_. The_e may be some bette_ wo_d, but I have not found it yet.”

Chee_s to that! The_e’s t_uly nothing bette_.

Want to learn more? Check out the first of this series from Information Services

Meg White

Meg White is the multimedia web producer for REALTOR® Magazine and administrator of the magazine's Weekly Book Scan blog. Contact her at mwhite[at]

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