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National Association of Realtors membership dips below 1 million

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Survival of the fittest

Current real estate professionals will rejoice at the news that Darwin’s theory of survival of the fittest has pushed the National Association of Realtors (NAR) membership levels below the one million mark for the first time since March 2004, down from its peak of 1,369,411 members in August of 2007, just prior to the housing crash. The bubble popped in more ways than one.

The one million mark is more of a symbolic milestone than anything, as the membership slide has been gradual in recent years, not experiencing any massive exodus in a single month.

Some will point to natural attrition while others will match declining housing performance with the declining appeal of struggling as a real estate professional. Some will blame the current administration for failing housing policies that have kept the buyer pool restricted, while others will point to a long road toward the crash that is a natural (albeit exaggerated) economic cycle.

Why NAR is just fine

NAR is in a good position, however, in that dues were increased 50 percent to fund the Realtor Party Political Survival Initiative, and while the trade group will still feel the impact of losing nearly half a million members, it has been a slow decline that the group has been bracing for.

NAR spokesperson Walt Molony told AGBeat, “Monthly membership fluctuates because local dues cycles vary, and outside of the boom years there generally has been a seasonal dip from December to January. We focus on year-end numbers.”

Annual totals for the past decade:

  • 2011 1,009,940
  • 2010 1,066,658
  • 2009 1,112,645
  • 2008 1,197,529
  • 2007 1,338,001
  • 2006 1,357,732
  • 2005 1,264,640
  • 2004 1,102,250
  • 2003 976,960
  • 2002 876,195

Molony added, “Given that most of our members are in it for the long haul, it would be safe to assume that with rising home sales it would be unlikely to see additional decline. Although we don’t publish membership projections, stabilization is much more likely in the current environment. For example, existing-home sales edged up 1.7 percent in 2011 and are projected to rise 4.5 to 5 percent this year.”

Where did everyone go?

Where did 400,000 people go that are no longer NAR members? Many are no longer Realtors but are still involved in real estate in some capacity, while a considerable number have left the industry altogether, becoming photographers, social media gurus, and tech entrepreneurs. NAR implies what many believe to be true – the thousands that flocked to the industry for what appeared to be easy money have left to pursue other means of easy money as real estate in a down cycle is more difficult to practice, particularly with consumers’ high scrutiny levels and apprehension.

For the remaining Realtors, there will be no love lost, as survival of the fittest means less competition for the survivors.

Tara Steele is the News Director at The American Genius, covering entrepreneur, real estate, technology news and everything in between. If you'd like to reach Tara with a question, comment, press release or hot news tip, simply click the link below.

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52 Comments

52 Comments

  1. Karen Rice

    February 13, 2012 at 12:07 pm

    I'm wondering how many of these former members were actually competition for the working members anyway…there are many members in my MLS who have only had 1 or 2 transactions in a year's time. They really were not my competition anyway…nor were they really anyone else's who works at real estate full time.

  2. Robert Carleton

    February 13, 2012 at 3:16 pm

    Karen, you've got to be kidding! Are you paying any attention at all to what's happening at NAR? Forced political contributions? Bloated bureaucracy? Being a member of the MLS and doing a few deals a year is not what drives people to drop REALTOR memberships. It's probably disgust with NAR and how very little difference it makes to be a member. You tie the MLS to NAR membership. Are they the same in your market? If they are tied, isn't that odd?

  3. ShortWoman

    February 13, 2012 at 4:04 pm

    I'd love to see further thinning of the herd. I know my local chapter keeps whining about how fewer members means less revenue, but I'd rather have that the least professional among us sent their licenses back to the state!

  4. Kelly

    February 13, 2012 at 10:30 pm

    Good, I was tired of doing 90% of the work for 50% of the commission anyway!!

  5. Karen Rice

    February 14, 2012 at 7:38 am

    No I'm not kidding; relax ok? In my area if you are not a member of NAR you can't be a member of the MLS. Plain and simple. Is it odd? I don't know – I thought it was pretty normal and the MLS systems that don't require NAR membership are the unusual ones. But I haven't studied it all across the country, only know what I know locally. There was some grumbling about the dues but mostly, people are leaving the business altogether cause they can't make enough money at it to support their families..or they want to retire…has very little to do with the annual dues (from my observations locally.)

  6. JimV

    February 28, 2012 at 7:13 pm

    The world will be a better place when the number of used house salespeople (Realtors) drops to zero.

  7. Vance Moruzzi

    March 3, 2012 at 7:52 pm

    The times are changing franchise brokerage closing down there is a new kid on the block full service transaction brokerages in some areas like in GA Realtors are the minority now, The Majority is now at 53% are Non Realtors.

    Board dues are being raised to make up for loss in membership this will only cause more board members to leave even more charging them for dwindling membership……
    Times are changing.

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Austin

Austin tops the list of best places to buy a home

When looking to buy a home, taking the long view is important before making such a huge investment – where are the best places to make that commitment?

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Looking at the bigger picture

(REALUOSO.COM) – Let us first express that although we are completely biased about Texas (we’re headquartered here, I personally grew up here), the data is not – Texas is the best. That’s a scientific fact. There’s a running joke in Austin that if there is a list of “best places to [anything],” we’re on it, and the joke causes eye rolls instead of humility (we’re sore winners and sore losers in this town).

That said, SelfStorage.com dug into the data and determined that the top 12 places to buy a home are currently Texas and North Carolina (and Portland, I guess you’re okay too or whatever).

They examined the nerdiest of numbers from the compound annual growth rate in inflation-adjusted GDP to cost premium, affordability, taxes, job growth, and housing availability.

“Buying a house is a big decision and a big commitment,” the company notes. “Although U.S. home prices have risen in the long term, the last decade has shown that path is sometimes full of twists, turns, dizzying heights and steep, abrupt falls. Today, home prices are stabilizing and increasing in most areas of the U.S.”

Click here to continue reading the list of the 12 best places to buy a home…

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Housing News

Average age of houses on the rise, so is it now better or worse to buy new?

With aging housing in America, are first-time buyers better off buying new or existing homes? The average age of a home is rising, as is the price of new housing, so a shift could be upon us.

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aging housing inventory

The average home age is higher than ever

(REALUOSO.COM) – In a survey from the Department of Housing and Urban Development American Housing Survey (AHS), the median age of homes in the United States was 35 years old. In Texas, homes are a bit younger with the median age between 19 – 29 years. The northeast has the oldest homes, with the median age between 50 – 61 years. In 1985, the median age of a home was only 23 years.

With more houses around 40 years old, the National Association of Realtors asserts that homeowners will have to undertake remodeling and renovation projects before selling unless the home is sold as-is, in which case the buyer will be responsible to update their new residence. Even homeowners who aren’t selling will need to consider remodeling for structural and aesthetic reasons.

Prices of new homes on the rise

Newer homes cost more than they used to. The price differential between new homes and older homes has increased from 10 percent traditionally to around 37 percent in 2014. This is due to rising construction costs, scarcity of lots, and a low inventory of new homes that doesn’t meet the demand.

Click here to continue reading this story…

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Housing News

Are Realtors the real loser in the fight between Zillow Group and Move, Inc.?

The last year has been one of dramatic and rapid change in the real estate tech sector, but Realtors are vulnerable, and we’re worried.

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zillow move

Why Realtors are vulnerable to these rapid changes

(REALUOSO.COM) – Corporate warfare demands headlines in every industry, but in the real estate tech sector, a storm has been brewing for years, which in the last year has come to a head. Zillow Group and Move, Inc. (which is owned by News Corp. and operates ListHub, Realtor.com, TopProducer, and other brands) have been competing for a decade now, and the race has appeared to be an aggressive yet polite boxing match. Last year, the gloves came off, and now, they’ve drawn swords and appear to want blood.

Note: We’ll let you decide which company plays which role in the image above.

So how then, does any of this make Realtors the victims of this sword fight? Let’s get everyone up to speed, and then we’ll discuss.

1. Zillow poaches top talent, Move/NAR sues

It all started last year when the gloves came off – Move’s Chief Strategy Officer (who was also Realtor.com’s President), Errol Samuelson jumped ship and joined Zillow on the same day he phoned in his resignation without notice. He left under questionable circumstances, which has led to a lengthy legal battle (wherein Move and NAR have sued Zillow and Samuelson over allegations of breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, and misappropriation of trade secrets), with the most recent motion being for contempt, which a judge granted to Move/NAR after the mysterious “Samuelson Memo” surfaced.

Salt was added to the wound when Move awarded Samuelson’s job to Move veteran, Curt Beardsley, who days after Samuelson left, also defected to Zillow. This too led to a lawsuit, with allegations including breach of contract, violation of corporations code, illegal dumping of stocks, and Move has sought restitution. These charges are extremely serious, but demanded slightly less attention than the ongoing lawsuit against Samuelson.

2. Two major media brands emerge

Last fall, the News Corp. acquisition of Move, Inc. was given the green light by the feds, and this month, Zillow finalized their acquisition of Trulia.

…Click here to continue reading this story…

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