Did NAR Just Raise Dues By $10 To Compete Against Its Own Members?

Inman has the story:

The 1.5 million members of the National Association of Realtors will see a $10 increase in their yearly bill from the trade group next year for its consumer advertising campaign.

The trade group’s special assessment for the ad campaign started as $15 in 1999, went to $20 in 2002, $30 in 2007 and $35 in 2009, remaining unchanged since then.

“With escalating media costs paired with emerging media channels, and an increasingly crowded real estate category, the committee feels that increasing the per member assessment $10 is the best way to generate the funds needed,” the Consumer Communications Committee said in its rationale for the change in a packet distributed to the board of directors.

That’s all fine and dandy, and $10 a year can’t be much of a hardship when inflation is north of 8%. But there was something else in this story that caught my eye:

“With ad spend expected to rise nearly 50 percent over the next several years in a crowded category all competing for the same mindshare, we need to remain competitive with our investment that we have made,” he told directors, while showing a slide with the names of several “new entrants” in the industry, including Compass, Opendoor, Knock, Homie and HomeLight.

Included with that statement was this image:

Am I crazy or does that slide include a few companies who are actual members of NAR?

  • Zillow is a REALTOR member.
  • RE/MAX is a REALTOR member.
  • Compass is a REALTOR member.
  • Opendoor is a REALTOR member.
  • Offerpad is a REALTOR member.
  • Redfin is a REALTOR member.

I can’t make out all of the logos, and I don’t know if Ribbon, Flyhomes, Knock or HomeLight are REALTOR members or not. These companies have tens of thousands upon tens of thousands of REALTOR members as agents.

So the proposition here is what? That NAR will charge Compass agents, RE/MAX agents, Redfin agents, Opendoor agents, etc. etc. to promote a brand that directly competes against their own brands? Sure, this has always been the case with NAR’s consumer advertising campaign, but this is the first time I’ve seen it spelled out so clearly, that NAR considers these other real estate brands as competition.

I mean, I guess if they’re all cool with it, then it’s all copacetic. But having been a veteran of the whole “MLS public facing website” battles of the past, I can’t help but wonder how this is all going down.


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Rob Hahn

Managing Partner of 7DS Associates, and the grand poobah of this here blog. Once called "a revolutionary in a really nice suit", people often wonder what I do for a living because I have the temerity to not talk about my clients and my work for clients. Suffice to say that I do strategy work for some of the largest organizations and companies in real estate, as well as some of the smallest startups and agent teams, but usually only on projects that interest me with big implications for reforming this wonderful, crazy, lovable yet frustrating real estate industry of ours.

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8 thoughts on “Did NAR Just Raise Dues By $10 To Compete Against Its Own Members?”

  1. Completely agree Rob. There are so many reasons why I am supportive of NAR and believe there are many ways it brings value to our industry and members, yet this is not among them.

    First, the campaigns themselves have been lackluster at best, and the effectiveness often defended by the public’s knowledge of the word Realtor which is ubiquitous. Since when has any top agent found him or herself actively competing with agents who aren’t? To your point, is this meant to convince people to pursue the historically normal transaction path vs. Ibuyers or alternatives? If so, it totally misses the mark and does raise questions due to the memberships you reference.

    This goes in the bucket with association and MLS run websites, etc. Stop attempting to level the field among all real estate practitioners, and allow the entrepreneurial, capitalistic nature of our business to run its course by leaving the marketing and promotion up to individual companies and agents. For most, it only matters if they are the one who wins the business.


  2. Competition for members? Does NAR now sell homes? NAR lost its way many years ago. I see billboards all over town advertising the local mls website for home search. Why are local mls and NAR adverting to consumers? They can advertise and build websites but can’t seem to improve their software and experience for members. NAR needs to decide who their customers are. Focus 100% on their members. Quit trying to be everything to everyone. Consumers don’t know or care what a Realtor is or why is matters to them.

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