The CLEVELAND AREA BOARD OF REALTORS, originally known as the Cleveland Real Estate Board until 1971, began in 1861 with local real estate agents meeting to discuss business standards, ideas for local development, and common problems. Organized formally on 21 June 1892, the board was concerned with standardizing the profession, improving its public image, promoting local residential and industrial development, and influencing legislation affecting the real estate business. Early in its history, it formed a valuation committee to appraise real-estate values and was active as a lobbying group opposing legislation it believed would hurt its members, property owners, and building contractors. By 1920 the board had become an elite group with a special title, "realtor," used only by its members and members of other affiliates of the National Assn. of Real Estate Boards. With the development of suburbs, the board organized regional divisions which coordinated their operations and later sponsored real-estate classes and computerized multiple-listing services to benefit its members.
In the 1960s and early 1970s, the board was publicly criticized for racial discrimination in its business practices and in its membership. In 1970 the U.S. Dept. of Justice sued the board over its policy of establishing and publishing the rates its members were allowed to charge for their services, and in 1975 the state's attorney general sued the board for attempting to monopolize training programs for real estate agents. As a result, the organization opened up its membership; that same year, the Board adopted the Voluntary Affirmative Marketing Agreement, an agreement between the Realtor Association and the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development to help ensure FAIR HOUSING in the real estate industry. The agreement was updated and reaffirmed in 1992. In 1971 it became the Cleveland Area Board of Realtors, and in 1977 purchased its own building at 2829 Euclid Ave.
Celebrating its 100th anniversary in 1992, the Cleveland Board of Realtors hosted a community planning conference attended by over 200 public officials, realtors and community planning professionals. The Board also donated $29,000 to Cleveland's Habitat for Humanity. In 1995-96, the Board co-sponsored a Bicentennial Village project in conjunction with the CLEVELAND BICENTENNIAL COMMISSION. Also in 1996, the 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals upheld an earlier ruling that found that three EUCLID sign ordinances that restricted the size and placement of "For Sale" signs unconstitutionally violated free speech and property right protections. Originally designed as a way to prevent "panic selling," the decision in the sign restriction case represented a major victory for the Board and soon many other cities in the area were forced to lift similar bans. In 1999, the Board successfully lobbied the local office of the Federal Housing Administration to raise its mortgage limits for single-family homes to $208,800. The new limits more than doubled the levels set in 1996 and affected all of Northeast Ohio.
With a membership of more than 4,500 area realtors, the Board was among the largest Realtor Association member organizations in the country with a full-time staff of 17 and a $1 million operating budget in 1995. Recognizing the need for more space, the Board announced that it was planning to sell its building at 2829 Euclid Ave in 1996 and moved to a larger location in VALLEY VIEW. The move, however, proved to be temporary as the Board relocated to INDEPENDENCE in 2002. The Cleveland Area Board of Realtors is located in a newly rennovated 12,000 square ft. building (the former home of SKN Manufacturing) at 5622 Brecksville Rd.