Since my annual dues bill has been sitting on my desk, I've been looking at what my office as a whole pays to be a Designated Realtor® office through the Greater Boston Association of Realtors®. Portions of these membership fees also go to the Massachusetts Association of Realtors® and the National Association of Realtors®. Now the dues structure is such that for every agent in the office who opts out of paying $423/year, I as Designated Realtor® pay a higher fee. So they will get the full $3,168 for my office, whether from the agents themselves (who would then at least get membership benefits) or from me as the Designated Realtor® (DR).
Here's the spreadsheet:
Although I'm not sure why, our local MLS (MLSPIN) doles out punishment for non-Realtor offices in the form of higher quarterly fees.
The net cost to my office overall is over $2000 per year. What does membership provide to my office for this amount? The Boston Association explains benefits of membership as follows: "professional development courses, standard forms, legal reports and updates, brokerage counseling, legislative and regulatory representation, ethics, mediation and arbitration services, as well as recognition awards. REALTORS® subscribe to the strict Code of Ethics of the National Association of REALTORS®."
Taking these points one by one:
- Professional development courses. Yes, we pay to attend them and the last one attended was very marginally worthwhile. With so much learning in forums such as ActiveRain, this opportunity has diminished in importance since it can be readily substituted for elsewhere.
- Standard forms. Yes we use them. I suppose I could purchase a set for something less than $2000 so this alone isn't a compelling reason for membership.
- Legal reports and updates. I'm trying to recall if I've read any legal reports or updates from the Association this year. Information I can get elsewhere? Probably.
- Brokerage counseling. Really? Like what?
- Legislative and regulatory representation. I am usually at odds with the narrowly self-interested and short-sighted stances taken by NAR so I really would rather not be bank rolling these lobbying efforts.
- Ethics. I think they must mean the Code of Ethics (see below)
- Mediation and arbitration services. Fortunately my office hasn't needed any for the past five years. Might we need to call on these services in the future? Not if I can help it.
- Recognition awards. ???
- Realtors® subscribe to the strict Code of Ethics of the NAR. It is true that the Code of Ethics is a comprehensive and very high standard by which Realtors® agree to abide. Anyone, in fact, is free to practice business according to its terms. Non-Realtor agents and brokers are free to adopt these same guidelines for themselves. In fact, my agents agree to adhere to the Code of Ethics in our Independent Contractor agreement, regardless of their membership standing.
How might we use this $2,076 elsewhere? We could sponsor Hopkinton little league teams, the HPTA, or the Hopkinton Education Foundation; support the Hopkinton Music Association or the Cultural Arts Alliance here in town. We could fund a scholarship for a local student or purchase supplies for local families in need through Project Just Because. Giving back to our local community may be a better investment, and may well provide more valuable benefits to my firm and my agents.
What are your thoughts? Is the Realtor® designation worth the cost?