Edward R. Briggs, 70, a realtor and a former president of the Northern Virginia Board of Realtors, died in Northern Virginia Doctor's Hospital Saturday after a long illness.

At the time of his death, Mr. Briggs was serving his second term as director of the National Association of Realtors.

In 1969 Mr. Briggs received the Realtor of the Year award from the state of Virginia. He was also one of seven realtors responsible for introducing the state's first multiple listing service for properties.

As chairman of the housing committee of the Northern Virginia Board of Realtors and later as the group's president, Mr. Briggs was involves in a controversy over open housing laws.

In 1967, Mr. Briggs said in a letter to board members that the board of directors was opposed to any open housing statutes. "We feel that legislation is not going to solve social problems." Briggs wrote at the time "We're advocating voluntary integration."

The board instituted a program to place black military servicemen find homes on an integrated basis.

A native of Atlanta, Mr. Briggs came to the Washington area as a young man. He was active in many groups, including the Arlington Citizens Participants Council, the Advisory Committee ot Fairfax County, the Arlington County Chamber of commerce, and the Virginia State Chamber of Commerce.

In 1971, he served as president of the Virginia Association of Realtors.

A member of the Memorial Baptist Church in Arlington, Mr. Biggs served as the chairman of the board of deacons. He was a member of the Cherrydale Lodge No. 442, A.F. & A.M. He was also a former member of the Arlington Optimists Club.

He is survived by his wife, Elsie R., of the Arlington home; a son, Edward R. Jr., of Arlington; and one grand-daughter.