The National Association of Realtors, more commonly referred to as “NAR,” is a huge trade organization that has significant influence over the real estate industry. NAR even trademarked the term “Realtor,” and only members who meet their criteria can use it. Is a real estate agent who isn’t a Realtor less competent than his peers? No, it just means he decided not to pay the exorbitant fees that go along with joining NAR.
As technology continues to revolutionize the way real estate agents do business, an increasing number of them are wondering why they should join NAR at all. If you’re asking this question yourself, here are 10 reasons why you should opt out of becoming a NAR member.
Clients don’t care much about you being a “Realtor” or not
Sure, NAR will tell you that clients look for the “Realtor” trademark to know they’re dealing with a quality agent. It’s a lie, and the public is much more savvy than NAR realizes. They know that a NAR member had to take the same courses to become a licensed agent as a non-member, and they simply want someone who is honest, has integrity, and will help make their buying or selling process more efficient.
Hop on any forum where people in need of a licensed real estate agent are commenting, and you’ll see at least half of them use the term “realtor” — note the lower case letters. They don’t care that only people who have paid tons of money in fees should be using the term, they just know they’re looking for someone with a license from the state to get their deal done.
Bottom line: clients generally don’t consider a real estate agent to be anything special just because he’s a so-called “Realtor”.
Their hold on the industry is unconstitutional
It’s terrible that in some local areas membership in NAR is pretty much mandated. However, it’s not constitutional for anyone to have to join a trade organization just to work. The same goes for how NAR tries to block non-members from accessing their location’s multiple listing service (MLS). NAR is far from a true member organization, it’s a huge conglomerate that’s set up to rule an industry for the sake of allowing its board members to prosper and profit.
NAR’s lobbying tactics have been known to be unethical
Lobbyists in general get a bad rap because they put money into politics — NAR does the same thing, and they’re not a minor player. Every year, NAR spends tens of millions of dollars on lobbying the US government to create laws that favor its preferences, most of which do not benefit real estate agents or their clients. NAR truly has the pay to play game down, and they have no shame in tossing money around to push their agenda. And what, exactly, is that agenda? To keep the real estate industry from changing too much so that their executives’ pockets stay fat.
You no longer need NAR to get access to the MLS
The MLS is essential when you’re doing business in residential real estate, and for a very long time NAR found ways to block non-members from gaining access. What this did was necessitate that people join their local NAR whether they wanted to or not, just so they could make a living. Now there are so many websites that syndicate MLS listings, such as Trulia, that you don’t need to be a NAR member to gain access. The fees to join MLS listing sites are much lower than those you’d pay to become a member of NAR.
NAR mainly benefits its board members and a few at the top
The things that NAR says it does for members can be gained elsewhere for cheaper. For instance, the organization claims to offer continuing education — you can get that on tons of websites for much less, with more options. NAR also claims to provide their members with tons of tools to give them an edge on their non-member colleagues. How so, though? They truly don’t. Here’s a question to ask: if NAR was so concerned about its members, why aren’t they allowed to vote like board members do? NAR constantly calls on its members to “help” them when it comes to writing Senators and Representatives in Congress, but just try calling on them if you need help with anything during your career in real estate. You’ll hear crickets.
NAR isn’t in support of technological advancements
The NAR agenda to stifle progress in real estate to keep its top people rich was detailed earlier, and it goes along with them shunning technological advancements. Look at the horrible tech they use for their own systems. In today’s world, being a member of NAR isn’t needed to become a successful real estate agent, and they know that. The funny thing is that if NAR put half the energy into innovation as it does lobbying and bullying, it would have been able to come up with some of the real estate tech that is revolutionizing the way agents do business today. NAR is a dinosaur that is already obsolete. If it wasn’t for its very deep pockets, NAR would have sunk quietly to the background by now.
They promote sneaky tactics to push out non-members
It’s not supposed to be legal for a real estate agent to have to join any organization to work, but NAR gets around that in every locality that they possibly can. For instance, they collaborate with the MLS in some areas to make it so that non-members get a 0 to 1 percent commission on their listings, which is absurdly low. This pushes those non-members to join NAR so they can make a decent living.
Another tactic is to literally lock non-members out of showing certain homes. In these cases, the electronic lock boxes on the homes have a code that is only given to NAR members, even though any licensed agent is supposed to be able to show the house. The result? Non-members unfairly lose business to those who have paid NAR dues.
Their rules are excessive
NAR has an impressive list of crazy rules, but the worst has to be the stipulation that member brokers must force all their licensees to become NAR members as well. Getting started in real estate is expensive enough without having to pay NAR fees on top of everything else. More and more brokerages are realizing this and are choosing to be non-member firms. The reverse of this rule is also true: if a licensed agent wants to join NAR and her broker isn’t a member, the broker has to join in order for the agent to get on board.
The fees are unfavorable
NAR membership fees are very high. In most areas, paying for your actual real estate license costs less than becoming a member of NAR. Some member dues top $1,000 per year, and even the $300 or so paid in other areas is too much for what you actually get as a member.
Member dues go towards their political affiliations
NAR is not a member organization so much as it is a lobbying organization and a slush fund. If you’re against your money going towards any particular political candidate and you just want to join NAR to help improve the real estate industry, go pick a different organization.
On a final note, NAR did something particularly slimy that many members didn’t realize not too long ago. They sold the Realtor.com website to News Corp. Why? For the money, $950 million to be exact. NAR selling back ads on its members own listings definitely doesn’t benefit the “Realtors” who have joined the organization. Before you succumb to the pressure of joining, consider these things and ask yourself if you really want to be part of such a group.