The National Association of Realtors (NAR) is facing its first year-over-year decline in membership since 2012 (when it fell under 1,000,000 members), with nearly 6,000 members leaving in November alone. That’s after years of steady growth. Colorado, Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Washington State experienced the biggest drops in membership. That is concerning for an organization that boasts itself as the “nation’s largest trade association.” NAR membership is unlikely to reach its 2022 level of 1,580,971.
- NAR membership dropped from 1,578,077 in October to 1,572,093 in November. NAR membership is unlikely to reach its 2022 level of 1,580,971.
- The decline is attributed to a combination of factors, including:
- Commission lawsuits: NAR has faced legal challenges regarding its commission structure. Many members have expressed their dissatisfaction with NAR’s response to the legal challenges, which could’ve been handled better with a better outcome.
- Leadership changes: The organization has undergone leadership changes following revelations about a “culture of fear.”
- Tough market conditions: High interest rates and low inventory have impacted the housing market and presented difficulties to many realtors. NAR is not perceived by many of its members as adapting to the new market conditions.
- Dues increase: NAR increased its annual dues in May, further straining members in a moment when, maybe, it was time for some relief. Some requirements and fee restructuring may be necessary while rebuilding trust and proving its worth to its members.
- High-profile withdrawals: Redfin and Coldwell Banker Danforth have left NAR, and settlements with Anywhere and RE/MAX no longer require NAR membership.
- Lack of turnover: The challenging market may be discouraging some individuals from pursuing careers in real estate brokering.
- Seasonal Fluctuation: While a slight seasonal decrease in membership is typical, especially in November, the current magnitude is unusual.
These combined factors paint a picture of an industry in flux, with NAR facing questions about its direction and relevance. As the leading organization for realtors, NAR must address these concerns and adapt to the changing landscape of the housing market before it loses the grip and growing dominance enjoyed in recent times. That could itself revolutionize the real estate industry.