National Association of Realtors logo and silhouettes of business people walking away
Illustration by Lanette Behiry/Real Estate News

NAR lost 26,000 members in 2023 

Membership fell by more than 17,000 from November to December, and the association posted its first annual decline in more than a decade.

January 3, 2024
3 minutes

The National Association of Realtors saw a significant decrease in membership between November and December — and reported its first year-over-year decline since 2012.

A look at the numbers: NAR ended 2023 with 1,554,604 members, according to data from the trade organization. That's down 17,489 from November and a drop of 26,367 compared to a year ago.

Washington state posted the biggest percentage decline year-over-year, with membership falling 9.5% — a loss of nearly 2,200 members. The Northwest Multiple Listing Service is the largest MLS in the state and is not affiliated with NAR. It's also home to brokerage giant Redfin, which announced in October that it was leaving NAR.

Other areas with significant drops were Washington D.C. (down 8.7%), followed by Colorado (down 5.8%) and Maryland (down 5.2%).

Florida (up 1.1%) and Texas (up 0.2%) were the only large-population states that posted membership increases. California's membership was down 4.3% year-over-year, representing about 9,000 members.

Why the decline? With annualized existing home sales dropping from 6.18 million at the end of 2021 to 3.82 million at the end of November 2023, there were bound to be agents leaving the industry in a market with increasingly fewer sales.

But 2023 proved to be a uniquely difficult year for the organization itself, which has been dealing with an onslaught of commission lawsuits and was forced to navigate leadership changes after allegations of sexual harassment and a "culture of fear" were revealed.

It also comes at a time when NAR raised its annual membership dues from $150 to $156 along with an additional $45/year fee to support consumer advertising. When the dues increase was announced last spring, NAR forecast a 15% decline in membership over the next few years.

What does this mean for 2024? It will be a pivotal year for the organization as it attempts to right the ship in what is expected to be a slowly improving housing market

In a Jan. 3 webinar discussing the future of NAR, Clint Skutchan, SVP of Organized Real Estate at T3 Sixty, noted that this is a crucial time for the trade organization to get back to focusing on its core services and showing its value — and it needs to convey that message to members.

"I think that NAR and others really need to be intentional about creating a toolkit and even doing a national roadshow… to really go and demonstrate how you truly separate the association from the MLSs," said Skutchan. 

(Note: Real Estate News and T3 Sixty share a founder, Stefan Swanepoel.)

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