Our History


The firm that is now CBRE traces its roots to San Francisco in 1906. By the 1940s, that firm grew to become one of the largest commercial real estate services companies in the western United States. In the 1960s and 1970s, the company went public and expanded both its service portfolio and geographic coverage to become a full-service provider with a growing presence throughout the United States.  In the 1980s, the firm was owned by Sears, Roebuck. 

The next major milestone occurred in 1989 when employees and others acquired the company's operations from Sears to form CB Commercial. Throughout the 1990s, CB Commercial moved aggressively to accelerate growth and cultivate global capabilities to meet client demands. The company acquired leading firms in investment management (Westmark Realty Advisors—now CBRE Global Investors, 1995), mortgage banking (L.J. Melody & Company, 1996) and property and corporate facilities management, as well as capital markets and investment management (Koll Real Estate Services, 1997).

CB Commercial achieved significant global expansion with the 1998 acquisition of REI Limited, the international arm of Richard Ellis, which traces its roots to London in 1773.  At this time, the company changed its name to CB Richard Ellis, or CBRE.

Soon thereafter, CBRE announced the acquisition of London-based Hillier Parker May & Rowden, one of the top property services firms operating in the United Kingdom. With this development, CBRE became the first real estate services firm with a platform to deliver integrated real estate services—through one commonly owned, commonly managed company—across the world’s major business capitals.

In 2003 CBRE acquired Insignia Financial Group and became the leading real estate services firm in New York and London.  In June 2004, CBRE completed a successful initial public offering and began trading its Class A Common Stock on the New York Stock Exchange, and was added to the S&P 500 in 2006.

In late 2006, CBRE acquired Trammell Crow Company to create a real estate services firm with unprecedented scale, scope and service offerings. In particular, CBRE became the global leader in the provision of outsourcing services to major occupiers, including corporations, healthcare organizations and public sector institutions. The company has been consistently ranked the #1 provider of real estate outsourcing services by the International Association of Outsourcing Professionals.

In 2011, CBRE attained leadership in another key business segment acquiring the majority of the real estate investment management business from Netherlands-based ING Group, N.V. The acquisition created an enterprise with approximately $90 billion of investment assets under management.  The company also changed its name to CBRE Group Inc. that year in order to better align its identity with its industry-leading brand.

In 2013, CBRE significantly enhanced its occupier outsourcing services platform in Europe with the acquisition of Norland Managed Services Ltd, the leading provider of building technical engineering services in the U.K. and Ireland.

In 2015, CBRE acquired the Global Workplace Solutions business unit of Johnson Controls (JCI) – a leading global provider of integrated facilities management services – merging it with CBRE’s existing Occupier Outsourcing business, to create CBRE’s Global Workplace Solutions business (GWS). Total revenue exceeded $10 billion for the first time. In addition, CBRE was ranked #2 (out of 500 companies) in financial growth and performance by Barron’s.

In 2017, both Forbes and Fortune named CBRE one of America’s best employers for diversity and inclusion, and Euromoney voted CBRE the global real estate advisor of the year for the sixth consecutive year.

In 2018, Fortune named CBRE one of the Most Admired companies in the real estate sector for the sixth consecutive year and The Lipsey Company ranked CBRE the top real estate brand for the 17th year in a row. In addition, CBRE changed its symbol on the New York Stock Exchange to “CBRE.” CBRE ascends to #207 in the Fortune 500.

CBRE is the first—and only—commercial real estate services company included in the prestigious Fortune 500, ranking at 387 in 2013. CBRE has been voted the most admired real estate services company in Fortune's annual survey for four consecutive years, Euromoney's global real estate advisor of the year for two consecutive years, and Lipsey's leading real estate brand for 13 years in a row.


Company Timeline