Agents have complicated feelings about NAR, new Intel survey finds



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Agents who rely on NAR primarily to protect their public image are less certain the trade group — which still enjoys broad approval — is a net positive for the industry, according to Intel poll results.

This report is available exclusively to subscribers of Inman Intel, the data and research arm of Inman offering deep insights and market intelligence on the business of residential real estate and proptech. Subscribe today.

Agents have reported a complex web of emotions toward the National Association of Realtors since it reached a settlement in the commission lawsuits, ranging from somber support for the trade group to raw feelings of outright betrayal.

One thing that hasn’t emerged yet? Anything resembling a consensus.

That’s why Intel dove deeper this month into NAR’s job approval, unearthing two distinct groups of real estate professional in the process:

  1. Those who depend on NAR mainly for its lobbying muscle or other core services, who give the trade group a net approval score of +10 percentage points; and
  2. Those who rely on NAR primarily to maintain a positive public image for agents or support standards of cooperation, who give the organization a net approval score of -5 percentage points.

These insights and others come from the May edition of the Inman Intel Index survey, which received 960 responses from a wide array of real estate agents, brokers and other practitioners.

In the survey, agents sounded off on which NAR function has the biggest effect on their bottom line, and how well they feel NAR has handled that task. 

The results amount to the most detailed picture that Intel has yet gathered on the industry’s fraught relationship with its most powerful advocate.

Read a full breakdown of the results in the report below.

Expectations and reality 

Intel’s exercise turned up one immediate takeaway — agents who believe NAR is a net positive force for the industry are twice as likely to say the trade group’s lobbying efforts are the activity that makes the biggest impact on their bottom line.

  • Of the agents who believe NAR is a net positive, 53 percent named lobbying as the trade group’s most impactful activity, compared to 7 percent who pointed to support for industry standards of cooperation.
  • Only 28 percent of agents who view NAR negatively said lobbying was its most important task, while 16 percent chose support for cooperation instead.

These two groups were both confident enough to answer a straight “yes” or “no” to the question of whether NAR is a positive force.

But many agents — 44 percent of respondents this month — expressed a more complex point of view, selecting, “I’m not sure,” or, “Other.”

One Oklahoma agent told Intel that they have “mixed feelings” about NAR’s place in the industry because of how it navigated the lawsuits.

“I feel like they did not fight for us and it brings me to my decision to end my real estate pursuits and concentrate on my technology assets to help others,” the agent wrote. “I feel like we were sold out.”

Like many agents, this person said they see NAR’s most crucial task as cultivating a positive image of Realtors in the minds of the public.

But even among those who fall instead in the lobbying camp, and who generally approve of how NAR handles that role, there was frustration about how NAR and the industry ended up in this position.

“Their advocacy has value,” a Colorado agent wrote, “but they have so poorly handled the lawsuits that I struggle to support them.”

Still, for the most part, agents who valued lobbying and other core services gave NAR higher marks.

The NAR report card

To get a clearer idea of how agents think NAR is performing at specific tasks that are important to them, Intel asked what activities they most value.

Most fell cleanly into one of two camps: One that prioritized lobbying governments, and another that prized the PR role that a trade group can play in the eyes of potential clients.

Share of agents who list each NAR function as being the ‘most important’ one for their bottom line

  • 35 percent — Lobbying for policies beneficial to the industry
  • 28 percent — Maintaining a positive public image of real estate agents
  • 11 percent — Supporting industry standards of cooperation
  • 10 percent — Offering services directly to agents, such as Realtors Property Resource
  • 4 percent — Offering legal services and guidance
  • 3 percent — Providing market data
  • 9 percent — Other

Intel followed up with each group, asking agents how NAR performs at the task most important to that agent’s bottom line.

Clearly, NAR maintains broad support as a lobbying force and as a service resource for agents.

How favorably each group that relies most on a function view’s NAR’s handling of that same task

  • Lobbying — 61 percent favorable, 30 percent unfavorable
  • Maintaining public image — 34 percent favorable, 53 percent unfavorable
  • Support for cooperation — 31 percent favorable, 58 percent unfavorable
  • Offering services — 48 percent favorable, 37 percent unfavorable

Overall, Intel respondents with a clear opinion on NAR side slightly in favor of the group’s value to the industry. But that edge is slim, and many can’t give a confident answer at this moment.

But the picture becomes more focused after dividing the industry into these two buckets:

Is the National Association of Realtors a positive for the industry?

  • Those who most value NAR’s lobbying and core services — 36 percent yes, 26 percent no, 39 percent “not sure” or other
  • Those who most value public image or support for cooperation — 22 percent yes, 27 percent no, 51 percent “not sure” or other

Methodology notes: This month’s Inman Intel Index survey was conducted May 20-June 2, 2024, and received 960 responses. The entire Inman reader community was invited to participate, and a rotating, randomized selection of community members was prompted to participate by email. Users responded to a series of questions related to their self-identified corner of the real estate industry — including real estate agents, brokerage leaders, lenders and proptech entrepreneurs. Results reflect the opinions of the engaged Inman community, which may not always match those of the broader real estate industry. This survey is conducted monthly.

Email Daniel Houston





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