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Seattle Real Estate Offices Cut Ties with Realtors Group

Seattle Real Estate Offices Cut Ties with Realtors Group

A group of Seattle-area real estate offices is poised to sever ties with the National Association of Realtors, signifying yet another departure from the industry’s major trade group amid ongoing controversies and legal issues.

Coldwell Banker Danforth, known for its multiple offices across various locations, recently announced its decision not to renew its affiliation with the National Association of Realtors in 2024. This move stems from a legal settlement reached by the parent company Anywhere Real Estate in October, effectively allowing Coldwell Banker brokerages to opt out of the NAR membership obligation arising from an antitrust lawsuit resolution.

Dave Danforth, the owner of Coldwell Banker Danforth, conducted a survey among his brokers, revealing that about two-thirds of them failed to perceive adequate value in NAR membership, considering the annual cost per agent, approximately $700, as unjustifiable. Concerns also arose regarding NAR’s political expenditure, prompting discussions about the worthiness of membership inclusive of national, state, and local Realtor groups that facilitate agent training and engage in political advocacy. Membership in NAR is essential for real estate agents to use the title “Realtors.”

Danforth highlighted NAR’s policy, requiring that if a brokerage is affiliated, all brokers must be members, and vice versa. He urged NAR to reconsider this rule, emphasizing the need for brokers to have the autonomy to select their organizational affiliations since they shoulder the expenses.

While Danforth personally appreciates NAR’s initiatives and would continue membership, he stresses that brokers deserve the freedom to decide their affiliations, considering they are footing the bill. In response, NAR reiterated that brokerages have independent autonomy in determining their memberships, without directly addressing Danforth’s critique of its “all in or all out” rule.

In light of Coldwell Banker Danforth’s decision, effective January 1, none of the brokerage’s 325 agents will retain membership in local or national Realtor groups. Danforth assured that brokers have alternative avenues for training and education, ensuring that their clients won’t experience any changes due to this shift.

The ongoing controversies within NAR, including a significant antitrust lawsuit defeat and allegations of sexual harassment against its former president, have fueled discussions in the real estate sector about the rationale behind agents and brokerages remaining members. While some argue in favor of the benefits encompassing training and lobbying, others, such as Seattle-based Redfin, have criticized NAR’s commission policies and opted to leave the organization.

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