Is Realtor® Designation worth $2000 per year?

By
Real Estate Agent with STAR REALTY Hopkinton

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:

Realtor® Cost 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?

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Rainmaker
597,093
Jim Hale
ACTIONAGENTS.NET - Eugene, OR
Eugene Oregon's Best Home Search Website

I can't believe your association charges you more if your agents don't pay up.  Yes, I'm responsible for seeing that my brokers pay...they pay or their license goes back to the state.  Not a REALTOR= not a member of MLS.

Nov 30, 2009 04:52 PM #1
Rainer
16,073
Kathleen Buckley
STAR REALTY Hopkinton - Hopkinton, MA
Hopkinton Specialist

So for you Jim, it's a forced membership?

Nov 30, 2009 04:57 PM #2
Ambassador
2,223,615
MichelleCherie Carr Crowe Just Call...408-252-8900
Get Results Team...Just Call (408) 252-8900! . DRE #00901962 . Licensed to Sell since 1985 . Altas Realty - San Jose, CA
Family Helping Families Buy & Sell Homes 40+ Years

Kathleen, I respectfully note that the NAR lobby has done an excellent job this year in getting legislation thru to benefit underwater homeowners as well as encourage new homeownership, and the latest development, transitioning ownership with the tax credits. I agree it always seems like too much to pay. However, I think the alternative is much more expensive for everyone.

Nov 30, 2009 05:39 PM #3
Rainer
67,073
Alexandria Virginia
Featuring Susan Craft, CRS, REALTOR® - McEnearney Associates - Alexandria, VA
Real Estate Editor

I think the NAR lobby has done a lousy job at addressing the problems and a great job at providing misleading numbers that have made the problems we face to day much worse. 

Nov 30, 2009 10:04 PM #4
Rainmaker
217,380
No Longer Active
Real Estate - Fallon, MT

My integrity would not change a bit if the REALTOR® designation was removed from my card but unfortunately the organization has a monopoly on the business.  In our area the MLS is run by the board and unless I misunderstand the rules we are “required” to be a REALTOR® to participate.

Nov 30, 2009 10:55 PM #6
Rainmaker
1,076,952
Bill Gassett
RE/MAX Executive Realty - Hopkinton, MA
Metrowest Massachusetts Real Estate

Sadly most of the fees that are paid to most of the Real Estate boards do not seem to provide much benefit.

Nov 30, 2009 10:58 PM #7
Rainer
16,073
Kathleen Buckley
STAR REALTY Hopkinton - Hopkinton, MA
Hopkinton Specialist

@Michelle--It's precisely their latest lobbying efforts at extending and expanding the homebuyer tax credits that has really turned me off to NAR.  I feel like it's not good for the country as a whole (the cost in lost tax revenues far outweighs the benefit in increased activity at the margins) and that it's an artificial stimulation for short-term benefit that sacrifices the longer term health of the housing market.

@Susan--That "great time to buy" campaign really did us in, didn't it?

@Dan--I feel the same about integrity and wonder if it is outlandish that Realtor® membership be required to join an MLS.

@Bill--If that's the case, why do we continue to pay these dues year in and year out?

 

Dec 01, 2009 02:50 AM #8
Rainmaker
87,478
Lesley Lambert
Park Square Realty serving Western MA - Westfield, MA
Real Estate Agent - Realtor - Westfield, MA - 413-

Kathleen, I was JUST having this discussion with Maya and Diane today.  I am staring at my large bill (always due near the holidays...brilliant strategy) and wondering what I am getting in ROI on that one.  I came up with NOT MUCH.

I am getting my 20 year REALTOR pin next week:  maybe it is diamond studded?  Doubt it.

Dec 03, 2009 03:20 AM #9
Rainmaker
1,279,572
Jay Thompson
Zillow - Seattle, WA

At least you have a choice Kathleen. Unless I want to do without the MLS, I **have** to join the NAR.

Regarding the Code of Ethics -- No piece of paper is going to teach people how to act. My parents did a pretty decent job of that. I think my personal CoE has far higher standards than anything anyone could write.

And please don't get me started on the tax credit. Good for agents, maybe. Good for the market, highly doubtful. Good for the country? I dunno, ask our grandkids who will be paying for it....

Dec 03, 2009 03:25 AM #10
Rainer
16,073
Kathleen Buckley
STAR REALTY Hopkinton - Hopkinton, MA
Hopkinton Specialist

@Lesley--I'm thinking I'm not going to pay that bill.  I'll give a year without membership a shot and see if I feel differently next December.

@Jay--Is it simply disgraceful or more along the lines of scandalous or extortionate that your participation in the local MLS is contingent upon joining a national political lobby?  Outrageous. #shouldbeoutlawed

Dec 03, 2009 03:32 AM #11
Rainmaker
87,478
Lesley Lambert
Park Square Realty serving Western MA - Westfield, MA
Real Estate Agent - Realtor - Westfield, MA - 413-

Just got this in email (how timely) from NAR:

Realtor.org Essentials December 2009 As a benefit of NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® membership, you get a monthly look at what's new and useful on REALTOR.org.

Now you can pay that bill....they got you coverered!

Dec 03, 2009 03:47 AM #12
Rainmaker
1,481,748
Maureen McCabe
HER Realtors - Columbus, OH
Columbus Ohio Real Estate

We have to be Realtors to participate in our mls.  I always think of most of the RE agents in the US being members of NAR but I guess I knew there are non Real-a-tor members of the mls in Flordia, CA? Now your area.

Would some brokerages in your area require the agents to be members of the boards ("REAL-A-TORS") so that the broker wouldn't get stuck with extra costs?   A numbers game...

If you sit out membership for the year, we'll be watching you...

 

Dec 04, 2009 01:44 AM #13
Rainer
16,073
Kathleen Buckley
STAR REALTY Hopkinton - Hopkinton, MA
Hopkinton Specialist

I'll let you know how it goes Maureen!

Dec 04, 2009 01:59 AM #14
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Rainer
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Kathleen Buckley

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