Redfin has decided to end its support of the National Association of Realtors (NAR) for two primary reasons. Firstly, Redfin disagrees with NAR policies that require a fee for the buyer's agent on every listing. Secondly, Redfin is concerned about a pattern of alleged sexual harassment within the organization.
Redfin has engaged in numerous discussions with NAR executives to find compromises on these policies. Since joining NAR in 2017, Redfin has paid over $13 million in dues to influence NAR to advocate for a technology-driven marketplace that benefits consumers. However, Redfin will now explore alternative ways to advance these goals.
Besides disagreement over commissions, Redfin became increasingly uncomfortable with NAR after learning about reports of sexist behavior and sexual harassment involving NAR's president. These allegations came to light through interviews with 29 former NAR employees. Redfin is concerned that NAR was aware of these allegations for an extended period but only took action after they became public.
Redfin had already resigned its national board seat in June before the allegations of sexual harassment became public. NAR's policies continue to restrict sellers from listing homes that do not pay a commission to the buyer's agent, and they also prevent websites like Redfin.com from displaying for-sale-by-owner listings alongside agent-listed homes. Redfin believes that removing these restrictions would make the industry more consumer-friendly and competitive.
After careful consideration, Redfin has decided to go beyond resigning from the NAR board. Redfin will require its brokers and agents to leave NAR wherever possible. While most brokerages operate as loose affiliations of independent agents, Redfin wishes to refrain from imposing a policy that could alienate its revenue-generating individuals.
However, Redfin's decision to leave NAR is only partially voluntary. NAR rules mandate that Redfin must leave local and state associations, even if its grievances are solely with the national association. These rules stipulate that a broker must pay dues for each agent under their supervision, regardless of whether the agent wants to be a member. No agent under their leadership can be a member if a broker is not a member. Given this all-or-nothing approach, Redfin has decided to choose the latter.
Unfortunately, in many markets, Redfin does not even have the option to make this choice. Approximately half of the U.S., including Charlotte, Dallas, Houston, Las Vegas, Long Island, Minneapolis, Nashville, Phoenix, and Salt Lake City, requires NAR membership for agents to access listing databases, lockboxes, and industry-standard contracts. It is impossible to be an agent without the ability to view available homes, unlock their doors, or write offers.
Redfin urges NAR to separate local access to Multiple Listing Services (MLS) from support for the national lobbying organization. Agents should not be required to support policies and legal efforts that harm consumers, especially when they intend to help consumers.
Despite the disagreement with NAR, Redfin remains committed to the real estate industry. The company will continue to fully support the MLSs that brokers use to share listing data, and it will maintain positive relationships with the many dedicated individuals working at NAR and its local affiliates on matters such as economics, diversity, and pro-housing policies.