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I Will GLADLY Pay My NAR Dues. It’s a no-brainer!

I don’t know if you noticed, but fellow Agent Genius Bill Lublin wrote a post that started an interesting debate about the National Association of REALTORS.

Barry Cunningham, host of Real Estate Radio USA, and blogger in his own right, posed an interesting question towards the end of his show on Wednesday. He asked the following:

If, tomorrow, you could access the MLS anytime you wanted to, and you never had to pay NAR dues again, would you?

Well, Barry, I’m glad you asked!

My answer: HECK YES!

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Breaking Down My Dues

Barry’s question got me to thinking. Even though my gut response was “yes,” I wanted to check into things a bit more, make sure that the value I thought was there, was actually there. I had to break down my dues, the first thing I had to determine was, “what are my dues paying for?”

FIRST: NAR DUES ARE SEPARATE FROM MLS ACCESS FEES. The dues I pay to NAR DO NOT give me MLS access. The NAR has nothing to do with my MLS. I pay a separate fee to my local association in order to be able to access the MLS. In some areas, one doesn’t even need to be a REALTOR in order to access the MLS. In some areas, local REALTOR membership is required. It varies everywhere. In my case, local membership is required for MLS access, so I gotta be a REALTOR. NAR makes no rules with regard to MLS access. That is entirely the purview of individual MLS systems, some of which are owned by local REALTOR associations. (Interestingly, my father is a property manager, and a REALTOR. He needs MLS access, so he had to become a REALTOR, even though he didn’t really want to. When in Rome. . .)

SECOND: I pay dues to 3 associations. I pay to the Charlottesville Area Assocation of REALTORS, the Virginia Association of REALTORS, and NAR. My dues breakdown for 2008 is as follows:

CAAR (local): $320

VAR (state): $133

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NAR: $110

Grand Total: $563

NAR DUES ARE A STEAL!

Look at the figures above for just a second. . . notice something? NAR DUES ARE THE LOWEST OF THE THREE FIGURES. In fact, there are additional assessments rolled into those fees. The base membership fee of NAR is only $80. The other $30 is my share of the much-maligned national public awareness campaign. VAR base membership fee is $90, still slightly higher than NAR.

$80– are you kidding me? That is PEANUTS. Even when you throw in the public awareness campaign, $110 is a deal. Just for reference, I am also a member of the National Association of Sports Officials, my annual dues are $94. Membership dues at the National Society of Accoutants— $189. The American Bar Association— $125.

NAR dues look a little different now?

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Why the Dues are a No-Brainer

I don’t pay dues to NAR for MLS access (obviously). I pay my dues to the NAR because I know that the collective power, influence and resources of the organization is much greater than that of any one individual member. I don’t give money to RPAC (that’s another issue), but one cannot deny the power of the NAR lobby. The NAR gives REALTORS a voice that I could never have by myself (even with a blog).

NAR exists in part so that REALTORS from all over the country can share their individual resources and help each other tackle issues that might exist in their individual or state markets. When something is happening in Maine, NAR is able to put together people from the other 49 states so that problems can be solved and issues can be resolved.

NAR also aggregates more data than any housing research source on the planet. If you want to know what is going on in the housing market anywhere in the country, NAR has the data. When the Federal government needs housing market data, guess whose phone rings? No on else has the power or resources necessary to compile all the sales data from all of the local markets around the country. Heck, I would pay $110 a year JUST for this information. The Swanepoel Report costs $150. Oh, by the way, NAR data is critical to the Swanepoel Report.

REALTOR.org is a site that is chock full of resources for REALTORS. Is it hard to navigate? Yeah, it is, sometimes. But, the resources are there. The information is all there. LOTS of it. Economic data, a library, REALTOR Magazine, legal information, it’s all there.

It’s not All Kittens and Cotton Candy

If you want to argue that an organization that takes in well over $100M dollars a year in dues could spend it better, that’s fine. Heck, I’ve made such an argument on this very blog.

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If you want to argue that your state association is costing you too much, go ahead. I would NEVER argue that. The Virginia Association of REALTORS is incredible, and their dues are also an awesome value.

If you want to argue that local association dues are too high, you might be right. I know that, I certainly took notice of how high mine are.

It is much harder to argue, however, that the $110 NAR dues are a waste of money. But hey, I’m always willing to listen.

Barry Cunningham Did Me, and NAR, a HUGE Favor

Barry’s question got to me, admittedly. I knew the answer to his question, but I’m glad that he asked it, because it forced me to evaluate the dues that I pay, and what I receive in return.

NAR should have to establish in the minds of its members the value offered in return for their $110 investment. That is always one of the roles of paid-membership organization. NAR could probably do a better job of this. I sincerely hope that they do, because if members don’t see value in their organization, it just creates unnecessary tension and potential problems. Questions like Barry’s provide the perfect opportunity to address the question of value.

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There is always going be criticism of NAR, that is the nature of such a large and visible organization. Asking questions and answering criticism is also a critical part of trying to establish a more vibrant organization going forward.

Thanks, Barry.

Written By

I'm a REALTOR, basketball referee, happy husband, and Community Manager (in no particular order). I have a passion for the real estate industry and officiating, a passion that I try to turn into inspiration on my blog, The Real Estate Zebra. I am also the Community Manager at Inman News. When I'm not blogging here on AG or the Zebra, you can usually find me on Twitter.

43 Comments

43 Comments

  1. Barry Cunningham

    May 1, 2008 at 8:06 am

    Not to sound like an Active Rain comment..but great article Daniel..let’s see how it plays out..I will post as well so we have some fodder for today’s show!

  2. Benn Rosales

    May 1, 2008 at 8:32 am

    I still fall back to how I felt about NAR before all the disruption- NAR is good in that it keeps us all on the same operational page. You can be as creative and expansive in your business as you wish to be so long as you follow the guidelines laid out by all members involved. Every rule is in place for a reason, maybe not a good reason, but a reason none the less. It means that at some time somone violated someone and a rule went into play to avoid problems in the future. When I call another broker I know I’m going to be treated fairly and earnestly and our sellers and home buyers value that regardless of how sloppy a PR campaign may be.

    I honestly believe the folks that run the NAR have huge hearts, sons and daughters, family and friends out in the market and realize that every time they make a decision- what they do and say have real consequences. I sincerely doubt that many that complain about NAR know anything about the internal workings of such a large organization. Can it be better? It already is because folks like Daniel Rothamel, Jim Duncan, Jay Thompson, Greg Swann, myself, and you are involved. We are the agenda for the next 10 years and are on the leading edge of the vision we see for NAR.

    Barry mentioned in the previous comments how much fantastic Realtor participation he had on his radio show, and that too gives me hope. If Barry uses just 1/3 of his amazing voice to encourage and ask those that join his discussion what they’re doing to improve the NAR and encouraged them to get involved in such a passionate cause as Consumer Expericence using the NAR as a vehicle, the cause to make sweeping changes would be well underway.

    I’ve said in the past that I would be out if I could access MLS without NAR, but my hope has grown in the past several months. I’ve seen some great changes, hands reached out, and some eager ears. Folks like Ben Martin also encourage me on the local level as he takes on the challenge of modernizing his local board for this era.

    I’m in because of all of you, even Barry. If his sincerity is real, then I’m happy to stand on that front line with him too.

  3. Matthew Rathbun

    May 1, 2008 at 8:41 am

    It’s as relevant as one wishes to make it. Total dues are usually less expensive than a decent color ad in the newspaper. I think that some of the campaigns could be better and some politics could improve; but NAR’s successes tend to be secret and their failures public.

    Realtor.org has a huge amount of information and resources that can be very helpful if utilized. The Local and State Associations are very active in most agent’s day to day business.

    At some point, we have to just meet half way and have benevolence for all involved. It’s ever changing and difficult to keep up with.

  4. Cyndee Haydon

    May 1, 2008 at 9:30 am

    Thanks for raising NAR’s perceived value in my mind – why aren’t they doing a better job of communicating that to their members! They should hire you!

  5. Bill Lublin

    May 1, 2008 at 10:32 am

    Daniel;
    I started to comment because I thought your post articulated so well what so few people knew- and I thought – Man I really need to get a Zebra here in Pennsylvania

    Then I saw Barry’s post – got a chuckle from the AR reference and thought – Wow what a great venue this is where we have his ear to this message – and how great it would be to have his voice added to our organization’s thought process

    Then Benn’s post made me feel validated – you know that I’m recent here, and that Benn and Lani have been very kind inviting my participation, but what you might not know was that I found Agent Genius only because of an NAR meeting where Jim Duncan came to speak to our committee about blogging and reaching our members in this arena. It was during his presentation there that agentgenius was mentioned. I started reading, and then started writing –

    And of course, as always Matthew has gotten here before me saying something I would have said if I was faster 🙂

    I wish we had a campfire to sit around! 🙂

  6. Benn Rosales

    May 1, 2008 at 10:35 am

    Bill, I am not playing the guitar nor singing, but I will drink your beer at the campfire.

  7. Barry Cunningham

    May 1, 2008 at 11:50 am

    I am sensing a revolution bubbling up here…let’s do something! I’m listening..never one to tune out change!

  8. Scott Brunner, VAR

    May 1, 2008 at 9:27 pm

    Hey Daniel…Your VAR dues are actually only $90 plus a $10 Issues Mobilization Fund contribution. They’re not $133 as you posted. So now you have $23 extra bucks…to use to take your favorite state association of REALTORS® CEO to lunch, right?

  9. Bill Lublin

    May 2, 2008 at 2:50 am

    Benn;
    In your honor I’ll bring the Shiner 🙂

  10. Daniel Rothamel, The Real Estate Zebra

    May 2, 2008 at 12:10 pm

    Scott,

    Hmmm, that was the data that I got from CAAR. They included $33 for the “VAR Building Assessment.” I like the building :-), so if it’s in there, fine by me. If I DIDN’T pay that, than I will gladly take the “bow-tied one” out to lunch.

    VAR is awesome! I would pay the VAR dues no-questions asked. I don’t mean that as hyperbole. I firmly believe that I am in the best state association out there. Someone would have to work very hard to convince me otherwise.

  11. Genuine Chris Johnson

    May 4, 2008 at 4:00 pm

    The NAR Dues are a rip off.

    Why? Well, everything the NAR does is either insipid or against everything that I stand for. From market distorting legislation to the premise that somehow Realtors(r) are the only ethical ones out there, to the backwards technology they push on is, the NAR needs to be starved to death.

    Agents–those people that had the balls to strike out their own path and give it a go? They need to be supported. Unfortiunately the NAR supports its own existance at the expense of its members.

  12. Bill Lublin

    May 4, 2008 at 6:26 pm

    @Genuine Chris;
    Help me understand what you wrote so that I can try to provide you with a little more information then you might have at this writing.

    From market distorting legislation

    I just don’t understand what market distorting legislation is – I do know that NAR, the State and Local Associations have fought for legislation that enables us do do business –

    to the premise that somehow Realtors(r) are the only ethical ones out there

    Ok, Here i can give you an answer. There is no premise that Realtors at the onyl ethical ones out there, but there are several factual points;
    The REALTORS Code of Ethics does provide the consumer with the comfort of knowing what a REALTOR’s obligations are under that code. It also provides a low cost venue for settling commission disputes through the mediation or arbitration processes pioneered by our organization.
    A quick history can be found at in a article The Golden Thread
    I would suggest that if you knew more about what the National State and Local Associations do, you might feel a little different –

  13. Genuine Chris Johnson

    May 4, 2008 at 8:13 pm

    Bill-
    You’re kidding, right? EVERYTHING THE NAR STANDS FOR distorts the market. The MLS false wall, the state legislative efforts… you’re seriously messing with me, right?

  14. Barry Cunningham

    May 4, 2008 at 8:25 pm

    Bill wrote..”The REALTORS Code of Ethics does provide the consumer with the comfort of knowing what a REALTOR’s obligations are under that code”

    C’mon Bill…I understand that you may find some degree of comfort in this but I would not feel so confident that the consumer finds any great comfort in this.

  15. Brian Brady

    May 4, 2008 at 8:30 pm

    Dave Phillips should thank you, Daniel. This has got to be the best “valuations” I’ve ever seen. I echo Barry’s Active Rain comment- Nice work

  16. Brian Brady

    May 4, 2008 at 8:32 pm

    “If you want to argue that local association dues are too high, you might be right. I know that, I certainly took notice of how high mine are.”

    Oops. You might be in trouble with Dave.

  17. Teri Lussier

    May 4, 2008 at 9:19 pm

    Daniel, it’s nice that you get some warm fuzzies from the NAR, but here’s why I disagree:

    >NAR exists in part so that REALTORS from all over the country can share their individual resources and help each other tackle issues that might exist in their individual or state markets.

    I think the internet has replaced the need for an organization to aggregate or pull resources, and this will continue exponentially.

    >REALTOR.org is a site that is chock full of resources for REALTORS. Is it hard to navigate? Yeah, it is, sometimes. But, the resources are there. The information is all there. LOTS of it. Economic data, a library, REALTOR Magazine, legal information, it’s all there.

    Again, I think the internet has replaced the need for an organization to aggregate or pull resources.

    >No on else has the power or resources necessary to compile all the sales data from all of the local markets around the country

    Now that so many across the country are connected via internet, all you have to do is check a blog or ask.

    >NAR DUES ARE THE LOWEST OF THE THREE FIGURES.

    That still doesn’t make it worthwhile. To me that would be similar to buying something you don’t need, simply because it’s on sale. All the perceived benefits of the NAR that we pay for, are free on the internet.

    >The NAR gives REALTORS a voice that I could never have by myself.

    A voice for what? Their awareness campaigns are woefully inaccurate and I’d argue counter-productive. The voice of individuals taking responsibility for their own actions is always more powerful than a outmoded organization that stands in the way of productive change.

  18. Bill Lublin

    May 5, 2008 at 2:39 am

    @genuine Chris I’m not messing with you, but its really difficult to respond to sweeping statements that don’t have speak to an issue – I don’t see the MLS as a false wall, I see it as a tool developed by an industry for use by its members. And in any case NAR DOESN’T OWN THE MLS So its hard to blame NAR as an organization for that –

    As far as legislative stuff, we ought to talk specifics – I can tell you that in my marketplace REALTOR Asociations fought illegal transfer taxes leading to a huge class settlement returning tons of money to the buyers and sellers of real estate, they fought unconstitutional laws forbidding the use of sold signs in Philadelphia, and on and on and on…
    I would be more then glad to discuss point by point any issues you have with NAR, but lets not keep it so general that we can’t discuss it – And no I’m not messing with you 🙂
    Great picture of your kids on your site BTW – Congrats

    @Barry –

    I understand that you may find some degree of comfort in this but I would not feel so confident that the consumer finds any great comfort in this.

    I’m really disappointed that you make a statement like that without supporting information. I make my statement based directly upon my experience with consumers and not as an opinion of my own.

    I run a company that has done somehwere in the vicinity of 35 to 40,000 transactions in the past 25 years. When I have dealt with consumers who were upset about a transaction or the actions of an agent , they have often expressed to me that they felt protected by the existence of the REALTOR Code of Ethics, and the ability to have their concerns addressed by an impartial panel of real estate professionals .

    As a participant in the GPAR Consumer hotline for a number of years, consumers rcalled in with problems that needed resolution.They egularly expressed their desire to seek redress under the Code of Ethics, and indicated that they were pleased that they could do so without spending money on attorneys to determine if they had been treated improperly.

    As a member of local , state and national Professional Standards committees for 30 years. I have reveiwed hundreds upon hundreds of complaints from consumers, and have sat on or chaired hundreds of Professional Standards Hearing Panels involving consumers. In almost every instance they have thanked the Association for their ability to participate in the process, So after hearing hundreds of consumers tell me that they felt comforted by the existence of the Code of Ethics and the Porfessional Standards process, I have personal experience which validates the statement that consumers are comforted knowing that REALTORS have obligations under the code –

    Do you have similar factual experience that you can base your opposing opinion on? Or do you think that you might base your low opinion of the process on your prejudgement of the REALTOR movement and a lack of experience with the Professional Standards Process?

    Come to Washington for the Mid Year Meetings and on Thursday May 15th, come to the Professional Standards Forum and then the meeting of the Professional Standards Committee – I’ll even buy lunch (but we have to eat early – I attend both meetings and Chair the second one) and if you want, you can join my wife and me for dinner after and we’ll talk about your perception of the process then 🙂

    BTW, I did catch a little of your show, but I missed Daniel (had to leave the office before he got on) –

  19. Matthew Rathbun

    May 5, 2008 at 6:18 am

    I am on travel this week, so I won’t have a lot of time to be active in AG; but I want to poke my head in here for a second. I say that so that you don’t think I am ignoring responses to what I am going to say…

    Just because some members don’t get NAR doesn’t make it irrelevant in and of itself. I see the folks who are speaking against NAR in here and honestly, it resonates where I was 6 years ago. I get you!

    However, the difference is, that I took the time to get involved and try to understand. The further involved I got, the more respect I had for those who are making the Association more relevant and are improving what it does.

    The three largest MLS’ in Virginia that cover almost all of the state’s transactions do not require members to be Realtors (sorry, still can’t capitalize the whole word – I agree that’s dumb). Anyone of the members can go to Home Depot and get a combo box and off they go!

    However, of the 40,000+ Licenses in Virginia 30,000+ are Realtors. They DO NOT HAVE TO BE. Do their Broker’s require it? Sure! Why?!?!? The Brokers see value.

    I see Teri’s point about the internet providing information, since I feel that being a Realtor requires appropriates application of knowledge. However, the internet’s also making the need for a Listing Agent irrelevant as well. Don’t agree? Look at the NAR’s own 2007 stats – of the tools found valuable during a real estate transaction, the respondents said that the internet was useful 78% of the time and the agent only 70% of the time. I don’t think that this means that NAR or Realtors are not essential, I do think that we need to be more relevant.

    If I follow Teri’s conclusions than we will never need an attorney as an advocate because we can find everything an attorney knows online, as well. Matter of fact WebMD is an awesome site. However, without contextual application of information being aggregated, all of that info is wasted. If I’m in need of real medical care, I don’t pull out the steak knife, some baby wipes and WebMD, while sitting at my kitchen table.

    I say this to both Bill and Teri – NAR has survived for a 100 years because of it’s ability to re-invent itself. I don’t argue that it’s becoming antiquated in some regards – but EVERYTHING is. It desperately needs to reinvent itself, just as practitioners do.

    Teri, I do need to argue one point. I don’t agree at all, that an agent should depend on blogs to tell them how to practice real estate. Hello? Have you read some of the unbelievable crap that is put on ActiveRain? ActiveRain in format and theory is a great site, but if the right attorney would go read those sites, he could be a millionaire in two years – tops!

    NAR is “ok”; but a well ran local and state association, like VAR are not replaceable. VAR has embraced the need for change and in my opinion, are setting the pace for the drive back toward relevance that we desperately need.

    Realtor.com could be a gold mine for all agents, if it were better managed. I will say this to anyone from NAR that is listening: The step toward allowing more information without a “premium” service is a good step, but that system should be “premium” for all dues paying members, in good standing. You want to be relevant, fix that.

    Genuine: I would bet that you’re just not a conformist and are pretty anti-establishment 🙂 I get that, I am there with you. I have spent tons of energy in church, my past offices and the association trying to get folks to be fluid and change to the times. However, just because religious institutions or associations aren’t relevant to me, does not say that they don’t have a purpose. The biggest lesson I have learned is to not discount or negate the value of someone who finds purpose in those things that I do not.

    In regards to NAR’s campaigns – simply put; they missed the mark. NAR tried so hard to counteract the media’s attacks that led to self fulfilling prophecy that they over-reached. The effort was counter productive and I think they get that. We’ll see what changes in the future. Who among us hasn’t made a mistake before?!?!

    Lastly: Until someone comes up with something better, it’s what it is. You don’t survive a 100 years without some warts and skin spots. However, with that time comes some knowledge and hopefully wisdom.

    It’s not beyond fixing; but so long as a civil wars stands between the members we all suffer and no one wins. If the energy and influence that bring people like those in this debate together could be used to find a “better” way of doing things; I am sure we’d all be better off for it!

    Great conversation, I also enjoy seeing respectful and well voiced debates!

  20. Barry Cunningham

    May 5, 2008 at 6:19 am

    Bill..I don’t have the time to debate you on this. I believe in this instance that you are being quite obtuse. Sometimes one has to look beyond their own personal experiences and look at the world.

    Too often I will write something and I get responses that amaze me. I’ll get comments like..”it’s not like that here”..similar to what you wrote. Just becasue you have not experienced it does not mean it is not the case.

    I don’t use viagra but I know it is a real and measurable issue that some men just have problems raising the flag. I don’t need to be personally afflicted or know someone who is. I can read various studies and research on it.

    Realtors (‘Some”) need to begin running “Businesses” not mom and pop shops tuned out to the real world.

    Do I have knowledge to the contrary of what you are saying ..of course I do! I have written about many times. Step outside yourself and start looking around. There are plenty of studies out there for you to peruse.

    However, that’s up to you to do on your own. I find it hard to believe that in 25 years of selling real estate you have never taken the time to seek out data beyond that which the NAR puts out.

    You also wrote..”you might base your low opinion of the process on your prejudgement of the REALTOR movement and a lack of experience with the Professional Standards Process?”

    1. My opinion of the so-called professional standards process is based upon the oxymoron that it has become. The Realtor movement???

    2. The opinion is substantiated on a daily basis.

    there are a million plus agents out there. The accepted axiom is that 5% are the top producers, that indicates there are plus / minus 50,000 very good agents out there…but it also means that there are nearly a million not so good agents out there.

    It would be foolish of one to believe that there is not an overwhelming amount of subpar performers out there injuring the industry on a daily basis doing all sorts of things that never get reported to some complaint phone number.

    I could start again by providing statistice relative to how many call versus how many experience bad service or worse yet…unprofessional conduct, but it does no good it seems in this industry as most don’t believe the sky’s blue most of the time.

  21. Teri Lussier

    May 5, 2008 at 6:48 am

    >If I follow Teri’s conclusions than we will never need an attorney as an advocate because we can find everything an attorney knows online, as well. Matter of fact WebMD is an awesome site. However, without contextual application of information being aggregated, all of that info is wasted. If I’m in need of real medical care, I don’t pull out the steak knife, some baby wipes and WebMD, while sitting at my kitchen table.

    Cute.
    Last time I checked, being a realtor did not require the same extensive education and training process as being a doctor or attorney. Why does always come up? If you would to compare realtors to doctors or lawyers, then require the same amount of education prior to practice.

    Matthew, reread what I wrote: I didn’t say that an agent should “depend on blogs” for information! Hell no. But, the access to information, and contacts, and sources is now available in places that it wasn’t before. As we know from the stats you quoted re/ consumers finding valuable information on the internet.

    Things are changing. The difference is this: Some of us see the changes as positive and healthy and good for the consumer, and would like to not be held back by the group think of the NAR. Moving as a group is…Well, honestly Matthew it’s horrible. It’s horrible for everyone, and the consumer suffers most because they are already ahead of the group in their minds. They are already thinking of ways to work around or without the group… sigh. We’ve hit a nerve…

  22. Bill Lublin

    May 5, 2008 at 6:54 am

    Barry:
    Sorry you didn’t have time to debate me, and I’m not being obtuse, I disagree with you (and thanks for making me younger, but Ihave been in real estate for 37 years, I have operated a real estate firm for 25 years, and since we’ve been listed for the past 9 years as one of the nation’s largest companies by Rismedia and RealTrends, I’m not sure we would be considered a “Mom & Pop” operation) And the only “real world” I’m not tuned into is on MTV.

    I agree that one would need to look outside their own experience in making this type of judgement. I gave you my experience with consumer reactions to the Code and the presence of the REALTOR Organization because it was empirical evidence that your position was not accurate. My experience could easily be multiplied by the thousands of people who have done similar work with consumers and their local associations. The statements do not reflect the ‘it’s not like that here” position you impute, but they speak to your initial statement which was “I would not feel so confident that the consumer finds any great comfort in this.”

    Being involved in Professional Standards on local, state and national levels, and having taught Professional Standards in different states for many years, I see a much larger picture then my local market. And though I am pretty well read (contrary to your expressed opinion) and am familiar with lots of studies in the industry, I would be interested in what study or studies you refer to that would trump 30 years worth of empirical evidence. And studies regarding consumer confidence don;t address the Code, because they can’t show what the consumer’s responses would be if that Code did not exist.
    You also wrote ;

    The opinion is substantiated on a daily basis.

    there are a million plus agents out there. The accepted axiom is that 5% are the top producers, that indicates there are plus / minus 50,000 very good agents out there…but it also means that there are nearly a million not so good agents out there.

    It would be foolish of one to believe that there is not an overwhelming amount of subpar performers out there injuring the industry on a daily basis doing all sorts of things that never get reported to some complaint phone number.

    I could start again by providing statistice relative to how many call versus how many experience bad service or worse yet…unprofessional conduct, but it does no good it seems in this industry as most don’t believe the sky’s blue most of the time

    I don’t disagree with much of what you write here. Too many people in the real estate industry don’t meet the standards that they should. But when I read this, it seems to me that you are reinforcing the importance of the Code and the Professional Standards process. In your conversation with Daniel, you mention Stae Licensing laws, but you seem not to know that many of them were based upon the Code of Ethics adopted in 1913, which pre-dated almost all of the state licenising laws and served as a model for many of them, And while I agree with you that there are probably many people that don’t use the Grievance process, or some that don;t have confidence in it, it doesn;t eliminate the many people that do have confidence and turn to the process to address their issues.

    And even so, none of your staement abouve addresses the initial issue.

  23. Barry Cunningham

    May 5, 2008 at 7:04 am

    Only reason I respond..again..is to let you know I was not referring to YOU as a mom and pop. notice the parentehtical “Some”.

    beyond that, I don’t care to engage in any form of debate about the NAR. It’s a useless argument. If it works for you then so be it.

    I for one am not going to spend any additional time discussing the NAR beyond what already has been discussed.

  24. Teri Lussier

    May 5, 2008 at 7:05 am

    Bill-

    >Too many people in the real estate industry don’t meet the standards that they should.

    I’d love to say you are wrong, but I can’t. So we agree. However, when I see statements like this, I wonder then, how effective are those standards? They truly do not seem to be protecting consumers. Perhaps because of standards, consumers have some process to address their issues, but what about preventing issues from ever happening in the first place? Isn’t that the true reason for having standards in place?

    Not trying to be contentious, simply stating a different view of the same thought.

  25. Bill Lublin

    May 5, 2008 at 7:09 am

    @ Teri I would suggest that there are a number of things that you might consider as benefits of the NAR, State and Local Association memberships that may not be immediately obvious
    1. They are the only organizations working in your interest politically on all three levels.
    2. The Professional Standards process allows you to arbitrate commissions effectively and inexpensively. They also provide an arena for consumer complaints that do not require you to appear in court and hire an attorney. In both cases the members of the panel are real estate professionals who are more likely to be familair with the realities of the business then an attorney or judge.
    3. Mediation programs run by the three organizations allow Brokers and Consumers to resolve their issues in a non adversarial manner.
    4. Local Associations or State Associations with more limited resources receive support from NAR in many of the administrative aspects of operating , including the RCE designation for Association executives.
    5. NAR acts with the input of the State and Local Associations to help create a larger voice for our industry.
    6. NAR has provided financial support for State and Local Associations who have been the target of litigation that could negatively effect the real estate practitioner
    7. NAR develops and supports educational programs, risk management programs, and designations, without a commerical agenda that would be present in any private provider.
    8. While there are other organizations that do research on real estate, NAR does it really well.
    There’s a lot more, but I need to get to work 🙂
    I wish you would believe me when I tell you that the more you learn about NAR, and the more you get involved, the more you will value it.
    Matthew said it really well

    Just because some members don’t get NAR doesn’t make it irrelevant in and of itself. I see the folks who are speaking against NAR in here and honestly, it resonates where I was 6 years ago. I get you!

    I get you too – and I think if you knew more about everything the Associations do – you would get them also!

  26. Bill Lublin

    May 5, 2008 at 7:10 am

    Teri;
    I agree with you , and I wish you and I could go to everyone’s house and drill into their heads what they should know 🙂
    But failing that, I think having the Code so they can seek protection is a real benefit o the Association –

  27. Bill Lublin

    May 5, 2008 at 7:14 am

    matthew;

    I say this to both Bill and Teri – NAR has survived for a 100 years because of it’s ability to re-invent itself. I don’t argue that it’s becoming antiquated in some regards – but EVERYTHING is. It desperately needs to reinvent itself, just as practitioners do.

    I agree – we are a work in progress – and leadership is trying also

    Lastly: Until someone comes up with something better, it’s what it is. You don’t survive a 100 years without some warts and skin spots. However, with that time comes some knowledge and hopefully wisdom.

    It’s not beyond fixing; but so long as a civil wars stands between the members we all suffer and no one wins. If the energy and influence that bring people like those in this debate together could be used to find a “better” way of doing things; I am sure we’d all be better off for it!

    Once again I agree –

    Great conversation, I also enjoy seeing respectful and well voiced debates!

    Once again, I agree, and that may be how we get to bring the Association forward –

  28. Teri Lussier

    May 5, 2008 at 7:36 am

    Bill-

    >and I wish you and I could go to everyone’s house and drill into their heads what they should know

    Here’s the thing. Move in close and I’ll whisper it into your ear: You and I don’t have to go to everyone’s house, the internet is already doing that.

    And it’s doing that for us or against or with us or without us…You either see it or you don’t. The NAR no longer holds the keys to the kingdom.

    But, yeah, it’s been pleasure. Work calls. 😉

  29. Matthew Rathbun

    May 5, 2008 at 7:48 am

    Teri: I rarely use the Doctor and Attorney reference, but wanted to use the extreme thought for this issue. It was the only on-line professional reference that I could come up with at the time. I agree that the real estate profession is not on the same level of those services, but the consumer mentality follows those lines.

    Do I think that technology is the answer to the consumer’s needs? No, I think it’s a means to provide better customer service. Getting to sit down with a client and make a personal connection is the best thing a practitioner can do. Interacting with people on their preferred mode of communications is vitally important and I don’t think the internet can do that. However, the internet used as a tool to provide good client centric customer service is the silver bullet, so to speak.

    Barry….. You’re not coming back? You know I’ll be saddened! You NEED to continue to debate issues with us, it gives you material for your radio show 🙂 And, I never took you for a guy would rather voice your opinion just on the show and not come back and debate facts. I mean, that’s rather one-sided isn’t it? I don’t believe for a minute that you’ll not return to this topic at some point!

  30. Barry Cunningham

    May 5, 2008 at 7:58 am

    Hey Matt…I will be back on other AG articles..it’s just this one that’s a dead horse. Bill is the poster boy for the NAR and I and many others want to play taps for it.

    Too much of divide, never going to bridge that gap..so it’s time to move on in this regard.

  31. Bill Lublin

    May 5, 2008 at 8:18 am

    Barry – Thanks – I never thought anyone would put my face on a poster! 🙂
    And me, I’m all about building bridges –

  32. Scott Brunner, VAR

    May 5, 2008 at 8:32 am

    I’m interesting that the focus of this discussion seems to be solely on NAR and its faults, and not so much on states and locals. It suggests (maybe?) that the closer we are to an organization – the activities of states and locals touch members much more frequently than does NAR – the more likely we are to feel a connection with or appreciate for or served by that organization.

    It’s easy to see NAR as the far-off villain, out of touch, ineffectual, basking in past glories, slow to change, unenlightened, and tired. And in certain contexts, those adjectives absolutely apply (and apply to some state and local assns, too). Yet I don’t exactly think the patient is quite ready to be euthanized just yet.

    While I get (and agree with many of) Barry’s and Teri’s points, I’m troubled by the seeming lack of appreciation for (or maybe I mean awareness of?) the monumental success your National Association of REALTORS has achieved in helping create the orderly marketplace that so many of you — even those who are cutting edge in your real estate practice — enjoy today. It’s sort of like looking at your middle-aged mom, with her wrinkles and graying hair and increasingly stodgy ways, discounting all she’s done for you, and deciding she’s somehow worth less because she can’t keep up with you as well as she used to.

    I’ve never sold real estate but I’ve been in REALTOR association management for 20 years now (and I’ve stayed in far too many Holiday Inn Express’s to count), and I can tell you that your association is only as good as those who engage themselves in its processes. Time was when REALTORS saw it as being in their enlightened sell interest to get involved, even storm the gates from time to time, to effect change and encourage progress…for the GREATER good. I’m not hearing a lot about greater good anymore. Instead, I’m seeing far too much of the arrogance of the tech-empowered, hyper competent…as if railing against all we don’t like about the profession will somehow magically make incompetence (and organized real estate) immediately disappear. Good luck with that.

    We can rant about the nincompoops in this profession. But the fact is, for the near term…and ‘near-term’ always seems to be longer than anyone expects…those are the same folks sitting across the closing table from you. Might it not be better to work collectively to lift their competence so that they’re not wreaking havoc in your transactions? THAT’S enlightened self-interest.

    And we can rail against NAR (sweet, dull, dear old Mom). But we may be missing the extraordinary power she represents. It’s that power that can change many, many of the things that are wrong with the profession today (including some of the messaging we’re seeing from NAR, but aslo much more). NAR is led by folks who step up to the plate. They may not always be the brightest folks, but usually they are. The point is, they see it in their enlightened self-interest to engage and lead the association.

    If you don’t like where your associations are headed, perhaps you’re not considering your enlightened self-interests?

  33. Benn Rosales

    May 5, 2008 at 8:33 am

    I wonder though, is he the poster boy, or the guy that can carry the debate? It’s been so easy to tear down something when everyone agrees, but walk away when the flip side to that coin appears. Very telling.

  34. Matthew Rathbun

    May 5, 2008 at 8:58 am

    Benn; Absolutely! The point worth making, over all the other rhetoric, was established above in three sentences. Unfortunately, people with passion are sometimes regarded as sycophantish. I prefer to think of them as world changers. Who better to engage in debate than someone who believes in creation or modernization versus destruction and dissolution? Only an architect can design and create, anyone can destroy.

  35. Barry Cunningham

    May 5, 2008 at 9:10 am

    Benn and Matt…you guys seem to think there is a debate woth having here, While much on AG is worth debating, this subject..is a dead horse and the divide is too great. There’s no “walk away” from debate…it’s been had and it’s done.

    As you write..Bill is “passionate” about the NAR, and I for one am not. It’s not about walking away. I find the NAR utterly useless and void of any substance. If I haeld the same passion as Bill did in any regard for the NAR there would certainly be cause for debate. Unfortunately I do not have that passion. I am completely indifferent to the NAR.

    there is no intent to destroy it, they do a good enough job of that on their own IMO, I just could care less about the NAR.

    Doesn’t make Bill right, and it certainly does not mak him wrong. It’s just that it does not matter in the slightest to me and whether the NAR is here, lives on in a diminished capacity, or goes away completely would not have any consequence on my ability to exist and prosper in real estate.

    I am not in a position to debate what Bill feels, I respect his opinion, but I am completely indifferent as to the NAR. Others can choose to champion the NAR cause. It’s a free will choice.

    My question..which began this post by Daniel was well responded to and accordingly, I rest..most if they did not have to, would not be NAR members.

    That was my sole reason for being here as to this post. I thought the initial question was about fostering change and I was all for that!!

    Yet, somehow this whole thing turned into an NAR pep rally..which I chose to exit from.

  36. Teri Lussier

    May 5, 2008 at 9:29 am

    Mattthew
    >but the consumer mentality follows those lines.

    No. It. Doesn’t. Consumers do not click onto WebMD and self-perform prostate surgery.

    Scott-

    The focus of the discussion follows the title of the post. There is no conflict w/subject matter. My concern here is with my clients. The End.

    Don’t bring my mama into this! 😉
    And I don’t know about your mom, but my mom is very happy and proud that she raised a daughter who has the brains and drive to push as hard she can do the best she can for her clients. She raised me to soar, and is thrilled when I do that. The NAR, if it’s my mom, will respond the same.

    While Barry needs no defending from me, my thoughts about this debate:
    Creative people grow through conflict. Only conflict can create change, we do not change when things are stagnant. Barry is, first and foremost, a real estate consumer. He buys real estate. His voice should be heard, and paid attention to, regardless of whether you like the tone of this particular consumer’s voice or not.

    And I have to agree with Barry “…it’s been had and it’s done.”

    See ya on Twitter, Matthew!

  37. Teri,

    Hey, good to see you! Or, read you, or comment with you, whatever 🙂 Good points. I didn’t fully address them in the post for the sake of brevity, but since you brought them up, I’ll expand a little bit here. This comment isn’t directed specifically at you, per se, but I’ll use your points as a framework.

    First, the Internet can do a lot of great things, it cannot, however, replace the need for pooling of resources. This is especially true in the pooling of national resources. The Internet can certainly make the process more effective, and reduce the need for as many phone conversations, letters, and meetings. The Internet can make the meetings that do happen much more effective by enhancing the ability to exchange information beforehand, but it cannot replace the need for people to sit down with each other and discuss certain issues face-to-face.

    The Internet is also not necessarily the most effective way to actually implement certain plans of action. It can always enhance them, but it cannot replace the power of actual, face-to-face interpersonal relationships. Whoulda thunk it?

    ——

    The power of NAR’s research department is overlooked. When the Federal Government needs housing sales statistics, they go to NAR. When foreign governments need data on the American housing market, they go to NAR. When private equity firms need data on the American housing market, they go do NAR. NO ONE has a source of data that is even remotely as reliable or up-to-date as NAR. Look, people may not always agree with their forecasts or data interpretation, but the fact of the matter is, when you hear data on the American housing market, regardless of where you hear it, that data probably exists, either in part or in whole, as a result of the efforts of the NAR research department.

    Can you imagine how EXCRUCIATING it would be to poll every locality in AMERICA for housing data? Just try and call my county office. They’ll tell you to come into the deed book room and go through them for yourself. Oh, and the deed book will be a few weeks behind, too.

    Even in areas that don’t have an MLS, the bulk of data still comes from the local REALTOR boards and their member brokers.

    Without NAR, housing market research in America would be a very different world.

    —–

    The issue that I see with most arguments about the irrelevance of NAR is that come from a vacuum perspective. That is, they exist RIGHT NOW, about RIGHT NOW, and from very narrow perspectives.

    Just as a baseline, the practice of real estate would not be where it is today without NAR. One cannot just ignore the last 100 years because they believe that NAR runs a bad public awareness campaign. The concepts behind companies like Trulia, Zillow, et al. are what they are because of NAR. Let’s not forget that the first entity that put all the listings in one place was, in fact, NAR. Now, you can most certainly argue that a better job could have been done, but until REALTOR.com existed, no one had ever done that before.

    Look, I think that REALTOR.com is a rip-off, but it is a rip-off because of its success. Competition from other sources will improve sites like REALTOR.com, which is still the closest thing the country has to being able to find all the listings in one place. And, with all due respect to the various competing Web 2.0 property and data aggregators, they are all still very young. I like many things about them, they have their own issues, but only time will tell if they are truly viable alternatives. When they start turning a consistent profit and are able to stick around for a few years, then we will have something. Until then, it’s just a popularity contest in search of the next VC funding commitment.

    As far as NAR’s technological prowess is concerned, NAR is far more technologically advanced than I think most people give it credit for. NAR has multiple blogs, the staff of NAR are very aware of what goes on in the blogosphere and Web 2.0. The executives know what time it is, people. They are not stupid.

    Are their obstacles to doing what NAR would like to do, of course. It is a large organization. If I want to do something today, I can start on it tomorrow. NAR simply can’t do that, for better or worse. There is inertia that must be overcome. That doesn’t mean that NAR is oblivious, or worse, intentionally ignorant. Things are most certainly changing there on a daily basis, its just that it might not be as fast as we would expect. But then again, I’m responsible to/for one person. NAR, on the other hand. . .

    ——-

    As far as consumer benefit is concerned, consumers have most certainly benefited from the efforts of NAR, whether or not they know it. Fair Housing, RESPA, urban planning, zoning, affordable housing, all of these have had, at one time or another, the input and influence of NAR. That’s what I’m talking about when I talk about the voice of NAR. Sure, Daniel Rothamel can talk all he wants to about the benefit of Fair Housing. So can Teri Lussier, but putting those voice together along with those of so many others, and speaking with a clear voice is something that NAR is much better equipped to do than any other organization.

    ______

    Humans are social animals. Despite what we may think, or want to believe, we run in packs. If NAR disappeared tomorrow, SOMETHING would take it’s place, you can be sure of that. You cannot have over 1 million people doing something without them wanting to do that something together. We all know this, the success of sites like AG and BHB are a testament to the desire of people to gather with others and share, learn, grow, and act together. Otherwise, we would all just write on ideas on paper, stick them in drawers or closets, and live in solitude. You can say whatever you want about individual will, and the people “thinking for themselves,” but in the end, people want to come together.

    _______

    I’m glad NAR is around (even though I think it could be better). I’ll say it. Call me a shill, call me a lackey, call me naive, whatever. I know what I am. I also know that at the very least, without NAR, I can think of more than one of you I might never have met, or maybe that I would have met too late.

    That fact, in and of itself, is worth $110 to me.

  38. Teri Lussier

    May 5, 2008 at 4:23 pm

    Hi Daniel-

    I was done! 😉

    But since you addressed me by name, I’ll add that you’ve done a fantastic job of expanding your thoughts here and I appreciate that. You’ve not changed my mind, but I am inspired to write my own post about this subject.

    And if the NAR is reading- you might consider the Zebra for your PR machine! 🙂

  39. Teri,

    I’m ALL ABOUT inspiration!

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