Coldwell Banker Danforth logo over an aerial view of houses.
Illustration by Lanette Behiry/Real Estate News; Shutterstock

Seattle-area brokerage quits NAR, on ‘right side of the story’ 

Coldwell Banker Danforth broker/owner says he’s not against NAR, but that he wants agents to be able to decide for themselves if they join or not.

December 4, 2023
3 minutes

Coldwell Banker Danforth, a brokerage with over 300 agents and multiple offices throughout the Seattle region, announced late last week that it would no longer renew its affiliation with NAR next year.

Dave Danforth, Coldwell Banker Danforth
Dave Danforth
Why are they making this change? Dave Danforth, designated broker/owner of Coldwell Banker Danforth, said that agents should be the ones to decide if they want to be NAR members. 

"This decision underscores our brokerage's unwavering commitment to agent autonomy and our belief in allowing brokers to make choices that best suit their needs and principles," Danforth said in the announcement. 

Additionally, Danforth told Real Estate News that he believes agents, who pay individual dues to the trade association, should be the ones to decide "if they feel the NAR is a good value or not."

"NAR asks each owner or designated broker to make that decision for the entire brokerage, therefore eliminating personal choice," he explained. "I am not against the NAR. I'm against their 'all-in or all-out' rule," he said over email.

"I just really feel like we're on the right side of the story as far as who we're fighting for," Danforth added. "The way that Realtors are set up right now is antiquated, for sure."

Why does it matter? While Redfin was the first major Seattle-area brokerage to cut ties with NAR, Coldwell Banker Danforth is the biggest Coldwell Banker franchise in the state of Washington and comes in at No. 333 in the T3 Sixty Mega 1000 ranking of top brokerages by sales volume. More companies could follow suit, but such a move is complicated by the fact that most MLSs require their subscribers to be members of NAR for access.

Because the Seattle area is served by Northwest MLS, an independent MLS that does not require its members to be Realtors, it is easier for companies in the Puget Sound region to step away from NAR.

Coldwell Banker Danforth is a franchise of Anywhere Real Estate's Coldwell Banker brand. A spokesperson for Anywhere declined to comment on Coldwell Banker Danforth's announcement.

What else could it mean? When Redfin leaders announced in October that they were distancing the company from NAR, the two primary reasons given for the split were NAR's policy mandating a fee for the buyer's agent on every listing and the ongoing allegations of sexual harassment at the highest levels of the organization. 

While Redfin executives expressed philosophical and moral reasons for distancing their agents from NAR, Coldwell Banker Danforth's decision appears to be more procedural.

"Danforth has requested a rule change that would allow his brokers to choose whether they would want to remain NAR members or not, but NAR's local chapter has denied this request stating that NAR rules do not allow any deviation," the announcement indicated.

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