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.
- CBRE acquired Insignia Financial Group and became the leading real estate services firm in New York and London.
- In June, CBRE completed a successful initial public offering and began trading its Class A Common Stock on the New York Stock Exchange.
- CBRE was added to the S&P 500 in 2006.
- CBRE acquired Trammell Crow Company to create a real estate services firm with unprecedented scale, scope and service offerings.
- CBRE became the global leader in the provision of outsourcing services to major occupiers, including corporations, healthcare organisations and public sector institutions.
- 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. in order to better align its identity with its industry-leading brand.
- 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.
- 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.
- CBRE was ranked #2 (out of 500 companies) in financial growth and performance by Barron’s.
- Forbes and Fortune named CBRE one of America’s best employers for diversity and inclusion.
- Euromoney voted CBRE the global real estate advisor of the year for the sixth consecutive year.
- CBRE changed its symbol on the New York Stock Exchange to “CBRE.”
- CBRE’s total revenue exceeded $20 billion for the first time.
- CBRE reorganised its global businesses into three segments – Advisory Services, Global Workplace Solutions and Real Estate Investments.
- Fortune named CBRE the Most Admired real estate company; its seventh year on the list.
- CBRE acquires Telford Homes, publicly traded multifamily developer in the UK; inaugurates international expansion of TCC’s development business.
- CBRE organised its largest ever global fundraising campaign in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Fortune named CBRE the Most Admired real estate company for the second year in a row; its eighth time on the list.
- CBRE was named a World’s Most Ethical Company for the seventh year in a row and was ranked the top real estate brand for 19 consecutive years by The Lipsey Company.
- CBRE ascended to #128 on the Fortune 500.
- CBRE was named to Bloomberg’s 2020 Gender-Equality Index.
- Dallas becomes CBRE’s global headquarters city.
- Fortune named CBRE the Most Admired real estate company for the third year in a row; its ninth time on the list.
- CBRE acquires significant minority interest in Industrious, a provider of premium flexible workplace solutions.
In 2014, CBRE acquires psm Center Management AG to further expand their retail real estate capabilities. In 2015, the business domain Global WorkPlace Solutions (GWS) of Johnson Controls has been taken over by CBRE.
In 2017, CBRE strengthened its position in the Western part of Switzerland with the opening of the third office located in Lausanne and in 2018 its forth office in Basel.