What Is the National Association of Realtors (NAR)?

The National Association of Realtors Explained

bird's eye view of a real estate agent showing a house to a couple
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The National Association of Realtors (NAR) is one of the world’s largest professional trade organizations. It is comprised of real estate agents, as well as others involved in the real estate industry, like appraisers and property managers. These individuals create and maintain standards for ethical real estate practices. They also fund and maintain a substantial database of real estate data and advocate for legislation related to the interests of the real estate industry. 

Understanding all that the NAR does can help you see why your realtor chooses to be a member and what they gain from that membership. Anyone interested in working in real estate can also discover more about what this membership allows them to access and learn. 

Definition of the National Association of Realtors (NAR)

The NAR is a professional organization within the real estate industry that supports real estate agents. It has over 1.5 million members, as of October 2021. Member dues fund a variety of educational courses and industry-related data collection, helping to give professionals answers about recent housing sales trends. 

The organization first began as the National Association of Real Estate Exchanges in 1908. Since then, the organization has changed names a few times, landing on the National Association of Realtors in 1972.

If you’ve ever seen a real estate agent who specifically refers to himself or herself as a Realtor, they aren’t using a generic term. This term is specific to real estate agents who are members of the NAR. The term was coined all the way back in 1916.

Members of the organization may receive group-negotiated discounts, access to proprietary tools like the NAR Realtors Property Resource, and the benefits of any lobbying the organization does for real estate-related legislation. A variety of other benefits come from access to networking opportunities and mentorship within the organization.

How the NAR Works

The smallest unit of the NAR is the local boards, of which there are more than 1,400. There are also 54 state and territorial associations, all of which are tied into the larger umbrella of the international NAR organization.

Outside the United States, there are similar organizations called cooperating associations that collaborate with the NAR as well.

When a real estate agent joins the NAR, they usually join a local board and are responsible for dues, which were set at $150 per member for both 2021 and 2022. A portion of the dues goes to lobbying costs, but each year the organization calculates which portion of the dues isn’t connected to political lobbying, and that portion is tax-deductible.

Access to educational resources alone can make the cost of membership worthwhile. These resources help people prepare for specialized real-estate-related credentials, share the results of data collection on the housing market, and can help new or inexperienced real estate agents learn from the experience of those around them. Nationally collected data like the Housing Affordability Index and Pending Home Sales Index are very helpful to understanding the bigger picture when working in real estate. With this knowledge, Realtors can better inform their clients about the current conditions of the housing market. 

So much of what makes a real estate agent a valuable addition to a real estate transaction is that they are very informed, so much so that “become and remain informed” is a tenet of the NAR code of ethics. In addition, the NAR points out that they hold their designated Realtors to a higher standard than the most basic licensing laws in each state for real estate agents. 

Is a NAR Realtor Worth It?

It is not necessarily more expensive to work with a NAR Realtor versus a real estate agent who isn’t a member of the organization. If other parts of your due diligence process of choosing an agent yield a final candidate who isn’t a member of the NAR, you’ll get the best answers by simply talking with them about their choice to not be a member. 

Sometimes, due to technicalities in the application/membership process, a person who would happily be a member of the NAR cannot yet join. An example is that principals in a real estate firm have to be the first to join—not non-principals—so a delay in principals of a firm’s choice to join might be the main reason that your agent isn’t an official Realtor.

That being said, the proprietary tools available to Realtors in particular, like data on housing sale trends and information databases that can easily generate relevant reports, could make it easier to get the details you need to make choices with your home sale or purchase.

If you choose a Realtor for this reason, talk to them early on about what kinds of metrics and reports they use to make suggestions for things like list price for a given home and take full advantage of their expertise. 

If you wish to work with a Realtor in your area or the area you are hoping to live in, you can use the NAR’s Find a Realtor tool.

What It Means for Your Home Purchase or Sale 

Working with a member of the NAR means you will gain access to data about the area that you might not otherwise be able to find. When setting the price for a home listing, for instance, Realtors can use data on how homes have been selling and what direction the market is going to choose between picking a listing price that is a bargain or a reach.

When it comes to a Realtor as your buyer’s agent, they can network with other real estate agents and tend to be aware of the seller’s agents who are currently active in the market. Getting a quick viewing of a home may be easier if they can simply call up a well-known colleague who is also a member of the local board of Realtors. Having a well-connected agent is beneficial to both sellers and buyers in the market.

Key Takeaways

  • The National Association of Realtors (NAR) is the largest professional organization for real estate agents and real estate industry professionals, with more than 1.5 million members.
  • Membership in the NAR brings a commitment to real estate ethics training, as well as access to education, networking, and housing-market trend data.
  • The NAR is organized into local boards as well as state organizations that are under the larger national organization, which conducts real estate industry lobbying and research