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NAR raises dues, will membership numbers really drop?

NAR raises dues… yawn

Oh sure.  Lots of agents will complain and bemoan having to pay more.  But I doubt NAR will lose any members (due to the dues increase) they weren’t going to lose anyway.  There is a very interesting relationship between how many members NAR has and the average number of sales per member.  Although some members are not directly or significantly impacted by this sales-to-member-ratio, it does have an impact on the average NAR member, regardless of if they think it does or not.

The chart above, showing NAR Members VS Average Sales is from the wonderful Gary Keller book, Shift.

Looking at the chart it is pretty easy to see a pattern: that there is a relationship between the number of members and the number of sales.  And that the number of members – when falling off – lags the drop off in the market.  Notice in this second chart, NAR Members VS Available Sales Per Person that because of that lag (NAR membership is at its lowest when the perception is “the market is bad” and highest when the perception is “the market is good”) there are times when the Number of Available Sales Per Person is much better for the members in the business.

Right now is one of those times.  In my area, Phoenix, the market is on fire – with some months being record breaking months (December and February, for example).  Prices are at the very bottom – that is what is driving the buying frenzy – but the local media, quoting always behind the times local economists, are still pushing the “doom and gloom, things are awful” line.  So both agents and the public tend to believe things are awful – when just the opposite is true.

Your takeaway

  1. NAR does a lot of things wrong.
  2. They do a lot of things right.
  3. They do a lot of things that don’t matter much.

An annual dues increase of $40 would be in that last category – as far as membership retention goes. How they spend that money and how effective that winds up being with regard to accomplishing the intended objectives will determine if the results are in category 1 or 2. You’re welcome.

Update: AG Report evaluates member sentiment on the dues hike, click here to see the results.

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Written By

Russell has been an Associate Broker with John Hall & Associates since 1978 and ranks in the top 1% of all agents in the U.S. Most recently The Wall Street Journal recognized the Top 200 Agents in America, awarding Russell # 25 for number of units sold. Russell has been featured in many books such as, "The Billion Dollar Agent" by Steve Kantor and "The Millionaire Real Estate Agent" by Gary Keller and has often been a featured speaker for national conventions and routinely speaks at various state and local association conventions. Visit him also at and



  1. Joe Manausa

    March 21, 2011 at 7:10 am

    Yawn indeed Russell. In Tallahassee, the average production per REALTOR is less than two deals per year! Of course, maybe that $40 is a lot …

  2. Vedrana Haikonen via Facebook

    March 21, 2011 at 7:39 am


  3. Don Fabrizio-Garcia

    March 21, 2011 at 8:54 am

    This won’t make a difference in my area – if we want access to the MLS, we have to be members of NAR. So, if we want to work, we will pay the increased fees…

  4. Sig

    March 21, 2011 at 9:38 am

    Why are they raising dues? Is it just because they can? I’m sure they have calculated the number of people who will say enough is enough and drop out vs. the amount of increase in revenue. It always has been, is now and always will be that they don’t care what we members think.

  5. Patrick Flynn

    March 21, 2011 at 10:49 am

    I’d be interested to see the stats on States that have NAR attached to the MLS vs. States that don’t. I know in Washington, our NWMLS is NOT attached to being a REALTOR.

  6. Jim Ledsome

    March 21, 2011 at 10:52 am

    More than any other time in history, NAR, NYSAR, and GRAR (and your State and Local associations) need to nullify bad legislation. At surface level it seems an irritant or irrelevant fee. Without NAR dues….;

    ? A campaign in Florida was responsible for an incumbent losing the election, and the representative who introduced the 2nd buyer credit.

    ? Banks were kept out of selling real estate. Can you imagine competing with a huge corporation receiving all sides of a deal? Do you think your commission check would stay the same with all banks selling real estate as well as providing the mortgage?

    ? The commission protection act was installed.

    ? Even at the State and Local levels, Nar money fights the industry killing legislation.

    Here in Rochester NY we fight many issues that destroy homeowners’ motivation, and erroneous legislation. I can assure you without our National Association we would not be heard or considered.

  7. Robert Hahn

    March 21, 2011 at 12:57 pm

    Russell – I think you’re missing the point here. It isn’t the $40 dues increase that would result in a drop in membership. It’s what that $40 (along with the rest of the dues) will be used for: direct support of political candidates.

    I detail it in my post about the PSI: and frankly, I can see all sorts of negatives flowing from this. People are passionate about politics (or they don’t care at all). Just imagine for a moment that Dupnik (Sheriff, Pima County) ran for Congress, and that NAR directly supported his candidacy because he pledged to protect the MID. How many AZ REALTORS would throw a fit?

    That’s the concern here.

    • Carole

      March 23, 2011 at 11:13 am

      Rob, you are right. The whole point is being missed. The point is not about the money. The point is WHAT it is going to be used for. I am an adult and can make my own decisions about candidates to support or not. I want an organization that supports me since I pay for it. I think it’s unethical to force money out of a person for use in politics. Let RPAC do what RPAC does on a VOLUNTARY contribution level. Don’t force me – I will get stubborn.

  8. Stephanie

    March 21, 2011 at 4:12 pm

    You might say it’s a “yawn,” but several agents are angry…hear what they have to say:

  9. MH for Movoto

    March 21, 2011 at 5:11 pm

    Agree with Sig – they’ve almost certainly balanced the increase in cash flow against an expected drop in membership. And since $40 is basically a 50% increase, I’m guessing the math comes out strongly in favor of the hike.

  10. jimledsome

    March 22, 2011 at 1:50 am

    Why start a “what if” when it does not exist?
    NAR will support poeple that will improve homeownership. When they don’t we will change our leaders.
    Stay informed and educate yourself, that is our only answer.

  11. kathyhowe

    March 22, 2011 at 11:25 am

    It’s not the $40. It’s what it is being used for. I love many of the state Association benefits. What I don’t like is another Political Machine that I have to pay for when I may disagree with what NAR decides to lobby for. Next we will have our own TV format… NAR never asks me what I think and now I can pay them $40/year for them to do anything they want for lobbying… I’ve been a registered lobbyist and trust me, there is payback.

    Frankly, MLS is the big reason that many of us belong to NAR. Take away MLS from NAR and what would NAR have as a member benefit? How many members would pay the dues for COE, NAR edu, a political party … ? Be honest now…

  12. Teresa Boardman

    March 22, 2011 at 6:40 pm

    the title of this post is funny. Like we have a choice about being members and can stay in business without MLS access

  13. Kathy Howe

    March 23, 2011 at 6:15 pm

    @TBoard has it in perspective. Rob Hahn and Jay Thompson have stated the issues very well. My personal feelings are in my blog at: and one of my comments is that the real issue is “would we be members of NAR without MLS?” I’m also a registered Independent so I can vote for my person of choice.

    But, if I give to NAR, I might decide to vote for Donald Duck. NAR is espousing Mickey Mouse. I just paid NAR to cancel my vote (possibly). That is the issue.

    If a REALTOR has no choice…?

  14. Terry Miller

    March 30, 2011 at 3:47 pm

    You may know that I am a NAR Director for my company, a Big Broker, Coldwell Banker Bain. I am newly on the 2011 NAR Communication Committee and I have a role and responsibility in educating REALTORS about the upcoming initiative which the NAR Directors will vote on in May at the REALTOR Meeting in WA D.C. I have tried to wade through all of this info (think communication), provided by NAR, WA REALTORS, videos, lots of social media messages and articles and conclude that I am in favor of this $40 increase (which takes our NAR dues from $80 to $120 annually). I agree that the playing field has changed and we deserve to earn the political clout to attempt to get Homeowner’s (and our, of course), political agendas met.

    This is important and it is about increasing the dues and there are lots of conversations floating around and there has been talk of trading the Public Awareness campaign for this Initiative’s $40 a year and I think they are different issues and should not be tied together and to do so only confuses the conversation about the merits of each. I believe both are needed and are BOTH critical to our industry. The Public Awareness Campaign adds value to our members and consumers specifically by helping promote market activity (think tax credits), as well as helping consumers “get” homeownership. NAR says that this campaign has been rated as high as second, just behind advocacy, as a reason members found value in our membership. NAR also says that the cost of the Public Awareness campaign ($35.00 annually), will net more than 8 billion consumer impressions. This is NOT the time to cut back and we all KNOW this—in softer markets we should increase our spending to remind our consumers that we are and we will be there for them in any market—and this is no different but on a grander scale. And, although re-thinking this $35/year campaign has not formally been introduced as far as I know, I do not think we should cut back on this campaign. I recommend we continue to support this, too.

    And, as the EO of Washington REALTORS, Steve Francks says: We can’t sit back and not even try to fight, not even try to have influence. And let’s face it, the monetary price of political involvement has gone up. Way up. Others are playing at that level. Can we afford not to? I say we cannot!

    So, I say yes to this initiative and yes to keeping the Public Awareness Campaign safe and funded. Lastly, I would just like to remind everyone that $40 a year is $3.33/month and the cost (dare I say it), of 1 Latte. I intend to vote YES in May.

    THX for listening.

    Terry Miller, NAR Director

    • Greg

      April 29, 2011 at 2:21 pm

      Hi Terry,

      After reading what you said I still have no idea what the extra money out of my pocket will actually be used for. Obviously and respectfully, since you are the NAR Director you would have a biased opinion though.

      What about what the majority of Realtors want? Perhaps you should ask the members if they want to pay?

      Where do we find the information regarding where our hard earned dollars are going? How much of this money goes to politicians (To the political agenda) and why?

      Why should anyone in America be required to make a political contribution cart blank, to whoever the NAR decides to support? To me that is just plain irresponsible. We should not support politicians based solely on what the can do for our industry, there are far more important issues we should consider as well.

      The extra $40 which will be used for the political agenda should be strictly voluntary. (Period)

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