Harcourts as we know it started out in the property business in 1888, but the company wasn’t always focused on property. Before it was in real estate, Harcourt & Co. (as it was known) was a soft goods business in New Zealand that went by the name of AP Stuart & Co.
A young John Bateman Harcourt started working for AP Stuart & Co. in 1856. He stayed on with them in Wellington for a number of years and ended up buying the company in 1879. JB Harcourt continued for another nine years running the soft goods business as Harcourt & Co., before having a bright idea.
In 1888, New Zealand had a gap in the real estate market and JB made the decision that his company should fill that gap. All of his attention and entrepreneurial skill went towards the new property services venture, and the company succeeded from day one in its new industry.
For 92 years, the company remained in Wellington, passed through to JB’s son, and then onto other long-serving employees who directed the company. It wasn’t until 1980 that Harcourt & Co. expanded to Auckland and made plans to list the company on the stock exchange.
Five years after opening the Auckland office, Harcourt & Co. was merged with Collins Real Estate – a much younger company – and the now amalgamation was called Harcourts Real Estate. 1985 was a big year for the new combined company, as Harcourts offices began popping up in more locations. In the same year, Harcourts was declared the largest real estate company in New Zealand.
Harcourts has a long history in New Zealand, but has also been in Australia for about 20 years. It was one franchisee who brought the business to Australia, and set up offices in every state – Harcourts was the fastest growing real estate company in our region of the world.
From Australia, Harcourts went on to conquer the world and now has more than 800 offices across new Zealand, Australia, Fiji, China, Hong Kong, Botswana, Zambia, South Africa, Indonesia and the USA.
The commercial arm of Harcourts, known as NAI Harcourts, is a joint effort between Harcourts and international commercial real estate company NAI. The partnership began in 2009 after the Global Financial Crisis carved out a need for improved commercial property services. Resources from both companies are combined to create a powerful force in the commercial real estate market that not only sell property, but help finance it too.
Retail, corporate, industrial and even hotel buildings are sold by the company. It can also provide financing services, marketing, strategic planning and consulting, advice, and market research for businesses who seek it when looking into commercial real estate.