Company 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.

Company Timeline

1773—William Ellis sets up as an "upholder and appraiser," in London.  A few years later employing his nephew, Richard Ellis as his apprentice. The Ellis family continuously ran and expanded the firm until 1938.

1906—Colbert Coldwell founded Tucker, Lynch & Coldwell in San Francisco, CA.

1995—Acquisition of Westmark Realty Advisors. Expands investment management capabilities, now known as CBRE Investors.

1996—Acquisition of LJ Melody & Co. Becomes a major originator and servicer of US commercial mortgages. Now known as CBRE Melody.

1997—Acquisition of Koll Real Estate Services. Becomes a leader in property and facilities management.

1998—Acquisition of Richard Ellis operations outside the UK. Name changed to CB Richard Ellis. Operations in 29 countries. Acquisition of Hillier Parker in the United Kingdom.

1999—CBRE operates in more than 250 local markets. CBRE forms partnership with Ikoma, establishing CBRE presence in Japan.

2001—Management Buy-Out takes the company private.

2003—Acquisition of Insignia. Becomes the industry’s premier service provider, with leading operations in New York and London. Reunites CB Richard Ellis global brand name.

2004—CBRE launches initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange as “CBRE.” Revenue surpasses $2.0 billion.

2005—CBRE enters Fortune 1000 list at number 676, and is added to Russell 1000 index.

2006—CBRE celebrates its 100th anniversary. CBRE named to S & P 500. Acquisition of Trammell Crow Company.

2007—CBRE named to BusinessWeek’s 50 Best in Class Companies. CBRE named one of Fortune’s 100 Fastest Growing Companies.

2008—CBRE becomes first commercial real estate service provider included in the Fortune 500.

2011— CBRE acquires ING’s real estate investment management business in Europe and Asia and its listed securities business. CBRE ranked real estate industry’s top outsourcing company by IAOP. Changes its name to CBRE Group, Inc.

2012—CBRE is the first real estate services firm ranked among top five outsourcing firms across all industries by the International Association of Outsourcing Professionals.

2013 – CBRE acquires Norland Managed Services Ltd, the leading provider of building technical engineering services in the U.K. and Ireland. Acquisition boosts occupier outsourcing business in Europe. CBRE voted Euromoney’s global real estate advisor of the year for second consecutive year.

2015CBRE acquired Global Workplace Solutions (GWS) from Johnson Controls. GWS is a leading provider of integrated facilities management solutions on a global basis. Total revenue exceeded $10 billion for the first time.

2016 – Forbes named CBRE America's 15th Best Employer.

2017 – Euromoney voted CBRE the global real estate advisor of the year for the sixth consecutive year. 

2017Forbes and Fortune named CBRE a top company for diversity.

2018CBRE has been voted the industry’s top brand by The Lipsey Company for 17 consecutive years.

2018CBRE named a World’s Most Ethical Company for fifth consecutive year. 

2018Fortune named CBRE a Most Admired Company for sixth straight year.