What is the National Association of REALTORS®?
Who Can Join the National Association of REALTORS?
According to the NAR website, the principal—defined as a sole proprietor, partner, corporate officer, or majority shareholder—of a real estate business must first join a REALTOR association before any other employees are eligible to join.
Conversely, if any principal eligible for membership decides not to join the NAR, none of the other employees or affiliates of the firm can join.
Although the National Association of REALTORS offers professional designations and certifications, members are not required to take an exam or present a portfolio of professional experience to qualify.
However, all members must meet the Code of Ethics continuing education requirement, which prescribes a minimum of 2 hours and 30 minutes of instruction every three years.
Real estate professionals who join a local association automatically gain membership in the state and national associations.
National Association of REALTORS Membership Costs
Annual NAR dues are $150 per member, plus an additional $35 per year “Consumer Advertising Assessment.” Dues are prorated for members who join mid-year. Membership dues are typically deductible as a business expense, but the special advertising assessment is a non-deductible expense under the 1993 Tax Reform Act provisions related to lobbying and political activities.
NAR dues give members access to various resources and tools, including research reports, housing statistics, and state and metro area data. The Realtors Property Resource (RPR) is a proprietary real estate database covering over 147 million residential and commercial structures in the U.S.; it is only available to NAR members.
The NAR Research Division publishes in-depth reports on housing market economics and state and regional home sales statistics. These reports include existing home sales and the pending home sales index, widely considered a leading indicator for the housing market.
The housing affordability index, another NAR analytical report, measures the average person’s ability to purchase a home in a particular region. A confidence report and foot traffic report broken down by location also complement NAR analyses.
Pros and Cons of Joining the National Association of REALTORS
As with any professional association, individuals need to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of membership in their career development and investment goals.
- Access to proprietary data. In addition to NAR’s exclusive market analysis and research reports, members also have access to NAR MLS listings, which are not available to non-member agents. Also, NAR listings may include property details not available in the MLS.
- Enhanced professional reputation. Only a NAR member can call themselves a realtor, which confers prestige among those in the industry.
- National professional networking opportunities. The NAR is a national organization, which means members can participate in member events anywhere in the country. Associations also foster network connections among members to help them build their business.
- Industry and professional support. NAR has a strong lobbying arm devoted to protecting the rights of real estate professionals. Members can also contact NAR representatives for advice and recommendations on legal, ethical, and other professional issues.
- Formal professional development and certification programs. The NAR and its affiliates, including the Real Estate Buyer’s Agent Council and the REALTORS Land Institute, offer continuing education and certification programs. The Graduate REALTORS Institute (GRI) designation is widely recognized in the real estate industry.
- Discounts on products and services. NAR members have access to the NAR Credit Union, discounts on insurance products, and special rates with FedEx.
- The credential is not well-recognized. Most consumers do not realize that REALTOR is a NAR trademark or recognize the distinction between a “realtor” and a real estate agent.
- Not required for MLS access. In the past, NAR essentially controlled access to MLS. However, listing information is now syndicated with sites such as Zillow and Trulia, so NAR membership is not necessary to access the MLS.
- It spends heavily on politics. NAR spends tens of millions of dollars each year on lobbying activities for issues not directly connected to its mission of advocating for real estate professionals. It also contributes to political parties, candidates, and PACs, according to Open Secrets.
Members of the National Association of REALTORs have access to proprietary data, research, and business tools that may further their careers. NAR requires that its members take continuing education in ethics and encourage them to pursue professional designations and certifications through NAR affiliate organizations.
However, these benefits come at a cost, and members need to realize that their dues contribute to political activities not directly related to the real estate industry and their professional development. Real estate professionals should consider their career objectives and local market when deciding whether membership makes sense for their business goals.
- National Association of REALTORS. (n.d.) About NAR. Retrieved from https://www.nar.realtor/about-nar
- National Association of REALTORS. (n.d.) About NAR. Retrieved from https://www.nar.realtor/narfininfo.nsf/pages/DuesTransmittalInfo
- Esajian, J. (n.d.) Realtor Vs Real Estate Agent Vs Broker FAQ. FortuneBuilders. Retrieved from https://www.fortunebuilders.com/realtor-vs-real-estate-agent/
- OpenSecrets.org. (n.d.) Client Profile: National Assn of Realtors. Retrieved from https://bit.ly/33OjwYP (shortened URL)