Association Notes

Section Definition + Intro

Realtor associations, along with MLSs, define organized real estate. They play a major role in setting industry professionalism; they advocate at the national, state and local level for homeownership and other issues that support their members’ business and manage local MLSs to ensure real estate markets operate as fluidly as possible.

As trade associations, Realtor associations are nonprofits owned by their members. They represent their members and aim to help them improve the quality of service they provide, their education and professional standards. The classic Realtor association mission is simple: to make members more profitable and more successful.

Realtor associations come in three flavors, determined by geographic scope: national, state and local. Realtor associations have a federated makeup: members cannot join just one. When agents join a local association, to gain access to the MLS for example, they automatically join the state and national associations; the memberships are tied together in what is known as the three-way agreement.

Local Associations

Membership in local Realtor associations is clustered among the largest. Nineteen percent of the nation’s 1,103 local Realtor associations account for approximately 80 percent of the nation’s total local Realtor association membership.

The largest local Realtor associations have tens of thousands of members, and subsequently healthy revenues that allow them to offer quality products and services to members and to play a large and meaningful role in their communities. Examples include the Miami Association of Realtors (over 45,000 members), the Houston Association of Realtors (over xx members) and Realtors of Palm Beaches and Greater Fort Lauderdale (30,000 members).

On the other end of the size spectrum lie small local Realtor associations, which, because of relatively small revenues and resources, can sometimes struggle to offer a core set of services to members and struggle for relevancy. The industry has a large number of these smaller associations. Just under 40 percent (410 local associations) of the nation’s local Realtor associations have less than 200 members.

Smaller local Realtor associations include the Sierra County Board of Realtors in Elephant Butte, New Mexico (21 members), Clarksdale Board of Realtors in Clarksdale, Mississippi (11 members) and Mid-Valley Association of Realtors in Kewanee, Illinois (17 members). T3 does not imply any of these do not offer members core standards; they are listed just to provide examples of some of the nation’s smallest associations.

Local Realtor associations play a huge role in the industry as stewards of local MLSs. All but about 20 MLSs in the country are owned in some way by an association or a group of associations. Just 3 percent of MLSs are not owned by a Realtor association or group of associations, based on T3 Sixty’s research.

Realtor association MLS ownership differs. They typically involve one of the following three setups:

  • The MLS is run as a committee of the association, serving in an advisory capacity. In this case, the Realtor board has the power to approve or disapprove of MLS committee recommendations.
  • The MLS is operated as a separate, for-profit limited liability company.
  • Or some combination of the two with an MLS as a separate for-profit company governed by an association board of directors.

Of the 585 MLSs in the country, 102 are regional MLSs, owned by two or more Realtor associations (18 are broker-owned); 483 are local MLSs, which have a single Realtor association owner.

In this section, we first rank the nation’s State Realtor associations and then the nation's local Realtor associations.

National Association of Realtors

Associations are the glue that hold the US real estate industry together. The National Association of Realtors stands at the national level; it is the nation’s largest trade association (with over 1.3 million members) and one of the nation’s most influential and powerful lobbyists.

The national organization focuses on lobbying for homeownership, broad professional development and national advocacy; state-level Realtor associations lobby for membership related to state legislation; local Realtor associations focus on training, technology, networking, forms, and, in most cases, provide MLS services.

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