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Realtor Roll Call: National Association of Realtors Sees Membership Slide For First Time In A Decade



The National Association of Realtors (NAR) saw its membership decline for the first time in more than a decade in 2023.

NAR membership dropped by 1.7% — more than 26,000 members — in 2023, according to the organization’s historic membership report. NAR had 1.55 million members at the end of 2023, down from 1.58 million at the end of 2022.

Among the companies leaving NAR are Redfin, Anywhere, Re/Max and Coldwell Banker Danforth, a Seattle-based Coldwell Banker franchise.

Between antitrust lawsuits, a challenging housing market and a shakeup in leadership, 2023 was a difficult year for NAR.

After losing a class-action lawsuit over agent commissions, NAR announced that CEO Bob Goldberg would retire on Nov. 20 — a year earlier than anticipated. In addition to losing the federal court case, Goldberg was under fire over concerns of sexual harassment that were first reported by The New York Times, which led to the resignation of President Kenny Parcell in August. Parcell was accused of sexual harassment and fostering a toxic workplace. He has denied the allegations.

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In October, a federal jury in Missouri ruled that NAR, HomeServices of America and Keller Williams were guilty of conspiring to keep commission rates high in the real estate industry. Jurors awarded the plaintiffs $1.78 billion in damages.

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The plaintiffs accused NAR of using its control over multiple listing services (MLSs) to inflate commissions while fixing commission rates at a certain amount. Only brokers who are affiliated with NAR or a local Realtors’ association that has agreed to operate by NAR’s rules have access to the MLS. The MLS won’t list properties where the selling agent doesn’t agree to a commission split set in the listing information.

For decades, U.S. homeowners have paid agents between 5% and 6% to sell their homes, while in other countries like the U.K., Spain and Australia are in the 2% range. Before the internet, the MLS was the only place selling agents listed properties before the internet and the only place buyers’ agents looked for them. To gain access to the MLS, selling brokers must agree to split their commissions with buyers’ agents.

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