We proudly and professionally champion those we serve!
We Will: Advocate for real property rights, homeownership, real estate investment, economic development, fair and attainable housing, and a strong economy.
We Will: Foster cooperation, inclusion, and business relationships by offering networking and community involvement opportunities.
We Will: Provide relevant educational resources and uphold ethical standards and professionalism to accelerate knowledge, expertise, and industry excellence.
The Birmingham Association of REALTORS® (BAR) is the premier resource for real estate information and education in Birmingham and Central Alabama, serving as the “Voice of Real Estate” since 1911, issuing statistical analysis of market conditions, offering legislative support to its more than 5,000 members and the industry at large.
BAR is part of the National Association of REALTORS®, which is America’s largest trade association, representing more than 1.5 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.
Our history begins as far back as 1890, when a group of real estate men would meet whenever their mutual interest needed representation in some unified way. Birmingham had only 38,000 residents at that time, but there were already many real estate salesmen–each going his separate way, giving little thought or cooperation to his competitors. “No one dared drive his horse and buggy along 21st Street, then called Real Estate Row, with a prospect, for fear of recognition by a competitor who would most likely seek him out and attempt to sell his listing. No special training was considered necessary, and no one required capital or experience. The public recognized these conditions and looked with disfavor on the real estate profession and those engaged in it.”
From this environment, the Birmingham Real Estate Exchange was organized on January 17, 1911, marking the first step toward the (publicly disfavored) real estate industry’s proper operation. R. P. McDavid served as the first president until the Exchange incorporated on October 20, 1914.
The Board Begins
The Exchange adopted a new name in 1920: Birmingham Real Estate Board. In 1926, a local member, Robert Jemison, Jr., served as President of the National Association of Real Estate Boards (only one other individual from Alabama has ever served as President of the national organization).
During the Great Depression, the Board fell on hard times, and membership dwindled to almost nothing, but by 1941 the Board was back as a thriving institution; there were 63 member firms.
The post World War II years introduced the most dramatic change in the real estate profession up to that time — women’s emergence in real estate sales. One of the Board’s most significant accomplishments during the 1940s was assisting in forming a Builders Institute, a forerunner of the Greater Birmingham Home Builders Association.
The Multiple Listing Service (MLS)
The creation of the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) in 1958 was perhaps the most significant event in the Board’s history in terms of its impact on membership growth. Initially, many firms within the Board were skeptical of the need and refused to participate. The MLS was formed by 16 brokers who invested $100 each to start the program. Firms paid $25 a month for the service; sales associates didn’t have any fees! The early version of the MLS “book” was a 3-ring binder of mimeographed pages. MLS staff made changes and sent them out by mail, and members inserted the page changes and threw away the outdated ones.
The Board’s administrative offices moved from the old Jackson Building (Jefferson Federal Building) to the Comer Building (City Federal Building) in 1962. By the end of the decade, the organization had a new name: Birmingham Board of REALTORS®, Inc.
Birmingham Association of REALTORS®
In 1973 the Board bought a building of its own on Arlington Avenue. The current location, 3501 Independence Drive, was purchased in 1991. The building was renovated and occupied in 1993.
The 1970s were the times of most remarkable membership growth: from 651 licensees in 1961 to an all-time high of 3,300 by 1979. But the economic recession of 1980-82 (prime interest rates climbed to 21 percent, mortgage rates to 18 percent!) caused membership to decline by over 1,100.
The late 1980s and the 1990s were times of adaptation and growth. Changes in the industry accelerated beyond most members’ imagination, from fax machines to mobile phones to voice mail, electronic lockboxes, laptop computers, and the Internet.
In December 2017, the Bessemer Board of REALTORS® merged with the Birmingham Association of REALTORS®, welcoming new members into our family! Many exciting, uncharted waters await the Birmingham Association of REALTORS® in this new century. What is its future? BAR continually embraces new ideas, methods, and concepts. In partnership with its dedicated cadre of involved members, leadership will see that the Association continues to promote professionalism and ethical conduct and provide an environment that fosters a spirit of cooperation among our members and helps them become more knowledgeable, profitable, and successful.