The National Association of Realtors (NAR) has agreed to publish non-realtor real estate listings as part of the realtor website Realtor.com®, including new homes and rental properties.
Real estate agents and brokers are not legally allowed to call themselves realtors although the public often does not know the difference. Only a member of the NAR is a bona fide realtor. Thus it seems a bit incongruous to include listings of non-members of the association on the realtor website.
The goal behind the surprise decision is simple. Realtors want the site to be competitive with other real estate listing Internet sites such as popular Trulia.com and Zillow.com. Potential sellers want their properties to be seen by as many potential buyers as possible. People looking for properties want to look in the one most comprehensive and accurate place.
A couple of motivations for the decision come into play. Move, Inc. owns 51 percent of New Home Source, a new-construction site which previously was excluded from Realtor.com, so they have a vested interest in the action. Now builders will be able to list their new homes on the realtor site.
Secondly, and perhaps more influential, in the Experian Marketing Services’ ranking of real estate site visits, Realtor.com started slipping in 2010. In 2012, Zillow took over the number 1 spot, Trulia climbed to number 2, and Realtor.com, which previously had the distinction of being the most visited real estate website, dropped to number 3.
Realtor NAR members may be frustrated by the fact that non-realtor listers who are not required to pay the high yearly NAR dues and special assessments will gain exposure from their site. There will be a distinction in the listings to make it clear who is a realtor and who is not. According to the announcement, the site will also provide consumers with tools to differentiate between realtors and non-realtors. Realtors’ dues, for example, paid for the board members to attend the Chicago
meeting in July 2013 where the amendments were approved. Dues also cover lobbying costs when issues come up in congress affecting real estate like home mortgage interest deductions on federal income taxes.
In the Chicago meeting, the NAR board of directors voted to amend the realtor.com operating agreement between NAR subsidiary Realtors Information Network (RIN) and Move, Inc. subsidiary RealSelect, allowing Move to accept non-Realtor brokers and other groups not Realtor-owned or controlled. This would include any Multiple Listing Service that is not an NAR member. Another amendment eliminates listing broker’s consent before listing foreclosure status of properties, short sales, bank-owned, distressed property auction where default notice has
been recorded. For-sale-by-owner listings were not addressed in the amendments.