Online Real Estate Broker, Redfin, Leaves The National Association Of Realtors

The online real estate brokerage, Redfin, is now requiring many of its agents to cancel their memberships with the National Association of Realtors (NAR) brought on by allegations of sexual harassment from the association, and other problems within the organization. 

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Redfin is separating from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) after The New York Times published an article that mapped out a yearslong pattern of allegations of sexual harassment, discrimination, and retribution that the association has neglected to address.

NAR’s influence on the real estate industry in America is vast, which is why Redfin is also not able to fully separate themselves from the association immediately. Redfin did, however, announce on Monday that it will be requiring 1,800 brokers and real estate agents to cancel their memberships and cease payments to the association, effective immediately. 

The NAR is the largest professional organization in the US with around 1.5 million members. It has more than $1 billion in assets and controls access to databases of home listings that many agents rely on for their agencies. 

Mantil Williams, a spokesman for NAR provided a statement in which he claimed the association respected Redfin’s decision, but insisted the NAR policies regarding agent compensation is “considered the best value in the world.”

“N.A.R. stands by its pro-consumer, pro-competitive guidance for affiliated local broker marketplaces that ensure equity, efficiency, transparency and market-driven pricing options for home buyers and sellers.”

In addition to the NAR’s influence on the real estate industry in the US, they also own the trademark for the word “Realtor,” which means in order for an agent to legally be able to call themselves a realtor, they have to keep up with their NAR membership dues in a majority of the country. 

In cities such as Las Vegas, Houston, Phoenix, and Nashville, the NAR has such a large control over who has access to housing listing databases that Redfin members in those cities need to remain in the association. Redfin told the New York Times that without their membership in those major cities, “it’s impossible to be an agent.”

According to Redfin’s most recent financial report, the company operates in more than 100 US  housing markers, and more than 52 million monthly users. Glenn Kelman, Redfin’s chief executive, said that Redfin agents in New York, Boston, and Seattle will no longer be paying their dues to the NAR, which will lead to an estimated loss of about $1 million for the association annually.

Kelman also told The New York Times that Redfin has been looking to untangle its relationship with N.A.R. for many months.

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“There are so many progressive forces within N.A.R. who are yearning to take a stronger pro-consumer stance. For the life of us, we can’t understand why N.A.R. is so beholden to a few members.” 

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Redfin initially joined the NAR in 2017, with the goal of influencing the association’s policies from within.  “But we began to feel that we couldn’t,” he said. 

Back in August, the New York Times published an article detailing multiple allegations of harassment and sexually inappropriate conduct from the NAR’s former president Kenny Parcell.

Parcell resigned 48 hours after the article was published, leading to multiple workers and industry leaders calling on the organization for greater reform. The Times interviewed more than 29 employees and former leaders in the NAR, who described a pattern of “silencing whistle-blowers at NAR – a pattern that is supported by a lawsuit.” 

“When the harassment issues came to light, that’s when it came to another level,” Kelman said.

After the report from the Times, real estate agent Jason Haber created the NAR Accountability Project with the intention of calling for an overhaul of the NAR’s executive leadership. He also started a petition which demanded the resignation of the NAR’s chief executive Bob Goldberg; which has more than 800 signatures.