I recently read a post on another real estate network site that I belong to. I was stunned by some of the comments, not because they were negative or rude, but because of how many MLS’s require NAR membership. According to the article 82% of real estate agents have no choice. While I knew that many MLS’s required Realtor® membership, I can say I was truly stunned that the percentage was so high.
My MLS does not require Realtor membership in order to be a member of the MLS. I personally think this is the way it should be. The RMLS, which covers Portand, Oregon does (or at least you to when I belonged before). I have always elected (up until this year) to be a Realtor®. I have always felt that my local Salem Association of Realtors® and Oregon Association of Realtors® have done an outstanding job and have been proud to be a member of those organizations. NAR, well that’s another story for me…The fact that I can’t just join my local organizations is a sore point for me, but I digress…
I have read that for many who consider the two necessary together, the biggest issue is dispute resolution. “What happens if someone refused to pay a commission listed on the MLS to a non-Realtor?” Our MLS has extensive by-laws that include dispute resolution. If you want to use the MLS you are agreeing to follow the rules, the MLS code of ethics, and by-laws. Honestly, I can say, in my experience, whether someone is a Realtor® or not, makes no difference from a MLS perspective. I have no idea who is one and who isn’t, without looking them up in my local SAR directory. Whether or not someone is a Realtor® has little to do with their ethics, in my opinion, because for most agents, it is a forced choice. In doing that, the Realtor® designation becomes meaningless. I believe that something can only have great value when we choose for it to have value.
For many Realtor® boards, our approach could be a cause for concern. In theory if all MLS’s did what we did, and agents joined in the same percentage, then Realtor® membership would fall. That would greatly impact the lobbying dollars of the real estate industry. I can see NAR and other local associations not being excited about that prospect.
Having been a Realtor® by choice, I was always sold on the value offered by my local associations and felt they were a bargain. I am a firm believer that choices bring out the best. Having a range of real estate business models in our industry forces all of us to be service oriented not sales oriented. Having the choice to be a Realtor® forces our associations to run efficiently and offer the members excellent service. Realtor® associations would be forced to “sell” us on their services and show their value outside of the MLS access. The Willamette Valley is case in point, that it can be done.