Recently, the managing broker at my employing agency made the decision not to join the local Realtor association board. When this happened, my Realtor status changed from member to non-member quicker than you can recite the date of your next closing.

  • The tangible benefits of being a Realtor have faded over time.
  • The general public continues to think that all real estate agents and brokers are Realtors.
  • The younger demographic of agents and brokers do not see the value -- or need -- to join their local NAR boards.

Recently, the managing broker at my employing agency made the decision not to join the local Realtor association board. When this happened, my Realtor status changed from member to non-member quicker than you can recite the date of your next closing.

I had been a Realtor since first getting licensed a few years ago and had mixed feelings (and unanswered questions) after involuntarily losing my ability to continue as a member of my local association board.

Would I be able to finish an online National Association of Realtors (NAR) certification class that I had started, but not finished? Would my peers (or worse yet) my clients, look down their noses at me? Would I be able to remain a Realtor without having to change agencies?

I soon discovered that the answer to all of the above was “no,” which made the parting of ways, even if not my decision, a blessing in disguise.

In hindsight, I realized I had slowly transitioned from being mildly disgruntled about what NAR was — or was not — doing, to questioning the value and benefits of being a Realtor for the following reasons:

1. The majority of homesellers and buyers do not know the difference between a real estate agent (or broker) and a Realtor

Just as the word Kleenex (a brand of facial tissue) has become a noun in our everyday vernacular, so has Realtor. A common question (or response) from the general public, as well as by newly licensed agents is: Aren’t all real estate agents Realtors?

No, there are about 2 million active real estate licensees in the U.S. of which only 1.2 million are members of NAR.

2. The Code of Ethics doesn’t have the power one might think

I have often heard, and read online, many comments by Realtors who proudly proclaim that the Code of Ethics means that members conduct business at a higher standard than non-members.

Those of us who have been working awhile in the field know that an outward designation like the “R” badge will not stop agents and brokers from partaking in shady affairs, ethics be damned.

This includes co-operating agent/broker stated sales compensation problems, something that can be mediated through local or state real estate license and regulatory agencies, or in my area, through our local MLS, a service that I am charged an additional $5 on top of my monthly MLS access fee.

3. The benefits aren’t all they’re cracked up to be

Many of the membership perks and benefits (discounts on cell phone service, rental cars, etc.) can easily be obtained elsewhere.

Ditto on industry education classes: there are many ways to learn online via webinars, at title company classes, from gurus, etc.

When NAR announced that the .Realtor domain name would be available, I quickly discovered it has specific terms involved including including the exlusion of team names, a hindrance for those that who want to use that URL as a team branding opportunity.

My Costco membership has given me a higher return on investment over the years.

4. Our ‘voice’ falls flat

Our representation to local, state and federal government(s) as a collective voice (a political action committee) to lobby for pro-housing laws, friendly regulations and low interest rates can be done as citizens through our legislators, so long as we regularly communicate and hold them accountable.

Some have argued that the sole hiring of a professional lobbyist group would be less expensive and provide better results. But, does the Federal Reserve really need to hear from a paid industry group or lobby when they contemplate whether to raise interest rates? No.

5. Listing data isn’t being handled properly

Lastly, and perhaps most important, is how unhappy many agents are with how their listing data is handled and the lucrative profiteering off it (a full topic for another day).

Then there are local board membership dues, which can be costly (California), especially to new agents. Because many MLSs are partially, or fully, owned by their respective local boards, there are strict rules about access, policies and usage, all of which can vary from one locality to the next. And the list goes on.

According to NAR, the median age of all Realtors is 58. Seasoned agents and brokers who fall into that demographic might still cling to the old talking points that being a Realtor makes a difference. But many Gen Xers and millennials say — not so much.

Agents just want to professionally assist their clients and make a decent living without shelling out hard-earned money to pay for the provenance of wearing the blue “R” lapel pin.

Many industry trade organizations have suffered the fate of becoming irrelevant; NAR will be no different. It’s time to #Realexit, folks!

E.J. Footer is a broker associate for Carrington Real Estate Services in Denver, Colorado. Follow him on Facebook or Twitter

Email E.J. Footer

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