There’s always something to howl about

Come On People — NAR Hasn’t Made A Hill Of Beans Difference Since I Was 18

There’s been so much talk about what the National Association of Realtors (or Real – I – tors as often mispronounced) should be, is now, and/or should become, I finally couldn’t stay quiet any longer. This subject is as important to the industry, any particular agent or broker, or the public in general, as what color rag I use to check my car’s oil.

They’re surely an easy target with their latest, and some, (including me) would call their weakest PR moves. But who has ever taken them seriously? Pick a real estate related subject, any subject. What lasting or even temporarily lasting and meaningful change has emerged from the fruitless womb of NAR?

I would submit three — Nada, Zip, and None. The industry itself has made things happen from day one.

Whenever they’ve gone up directly against lobbies which actually wield real life political power, they lose far more than they win. And so many of their claimed wins were in the bag anyway. I know, as I’ve been forced to be a member since 1969.

Education? Are you on drugs? With exceptions that wouldn’t take up all the fingers on one hand, what they offer is embarrassing to thinking people. Want a for instance? Ask your cousin the Realtor about his blog, and watch the instantaneous RCA Dog look on his face. Want another one? The dropout rate of agents in any market, good or bad, is always high, as most of them couldn’t find their butts with two helpers, a map, and a GPS.

Having a discussion on which way the NAR should be going is almost, but not quite a waste of time. They’ve never stopped me from doing anything but using my Mac to access the MLS systems around the country. Why? Because they’re either to damn lazy to hire my 16 year old next door neighbor to make the changes, they’re apathetic, or they don’t want me using a Mac. It’s still a non-issue to me, as it’s just to easy to circumvent.

NAR has simply been a non-entity in my career.

I’ve taken one course of education they’ve offered that was actually worth the time and the money. Since the subject matter was beyond most of them, they’ve left it alone, more or less. The instructors were, without exception, highly successful at doing exactly what they were teaching — a refreshing change from the norm.

The NAR has one thing of value period — the MLS. It was created by local groups to enhance their efforts to serve the public. It’s a private entity. It’s grown into something that everyone is now attempting to pirate, using flowery words, and moral concepts, which blow warm and hard, but say nothing about their actual agenda.

They want access to the brokers’ information, in order to avoid paying for services rendered. Anyone who doesn’t see that has been drinking far too much kool-aid.

And yet, I still don’t care. Ask Russell Shaw what he says about all the help the MLS has been to his operation. After he stops laughing, his answer may surprise you. That guy markets his listings like is hair’s on fire. He uses all the latest technology he deems will get his paying clients what they’re paying for — Results.

What’s gonna happen with our industry? In one sense I couldn’t care less, as they can’t take away my expertise, experience, performance track record, and/or knowledge. On the other hand, all the talk about brokers already disseminating their listings to the public in every way imaginable, is not on topic. It’s the brokers’ property to pass on in any way they deem fit — as long as they’re motivated by the best interests of their client. You remember them, right? The one who pays them for actual results?

Successful licensees will not tell you they owe their success to NAR. If NAR went away tomorrow I wouldn’t know it ’till someone told me. Don’t mistake my valuation of them as antipathy. I’ve been inside my local board, a state/national function, without coercion, less than two dozen times in what will be 38 years next month.

They simply don’t matter. It reminds me of the sports conversation that pops up every few years. It’s about how, pretty soon, soccer will be a major sport in the U.S. I’ve been hearing this pap for almost three decades now. It might happen, but not in Boomers’ lifetimes. It’s a wasted discussion.

Allow me to point you to something of far more enduring value. Even attempting to point out how worthless this topic has become, is boring me. Read Lani’s letter to her husband. Redeem some of your valued time. At least her letter will add the value of a smile.

Enjoy your weeeekennnnnnd.

More viewpoints, pro and con, on supplanting the NAR:

Related posts:
  • Another Happy Customer
  • The Coffee House Crisis
  • Reasons to be cheerful, Part 2.5: It’s raining soup and all you can do is piss and moan that Big Mother hasn’t given you a free bowl.


    22 Comments so far

    1. Marty Van Diest August 31st, 2007 12:40 pm

      I have to say that I agree with you. And I think the MLS is going away as well. Then what is left?

    2. Jeff Brown August 31st, 2007 1:13 pm

      Marty – some form of MLS, either local, national, or both. If the so called intellectuals have their way, the very large firms will fill the inevitable vacuum, and, at least for awhile, little companies will go away.

      Guys like ReMax, Prudential, etc. will profit. Guys like Russell Shaw will ruin their shoulders cranking the $1,000 bills from their printing presses. :)

    3. Jeff Blackwell August 31st, 2007 3:22 pm

      Marty, in my opinion the MLS “concept” isn’t going away it’s evolving. The monopoly is crumbling.

      Jeff you said, “Guys like Russell Shaw will ruin their shoulders cranking the $1,000 bills from their printing presses”? In what way? I don’t know enough yet about Mr. Shaw to follow your train of thought.

    4. phil August 31st, 2007 4:42 pm

      Hey, everyone ~ wake up and smell the coffee !!!
      Why is it that no one gets it that Google could easily obsolete ALL of the MLS’s by offering free listings for everyone, then monetizing it by buying (insert the online mortage company of your choosing), a home warranty company, and a title company, and . . . .
      If RE/MAX can figure out how to aggregate data from all of the MLS’s in the country, do you really think Google can’t figure it out?
      A little programming, joining all 900 MLS’s to get data feeds, and presto ~!
      Realtors would become dinosaurs, sellers and buyers would get their wish of eliminating those damned useless Realtors, and Google would get rich(er).
      Anyone who thinks NAR and our present MLS system is going to survive needs to get a life!

    5. Jeff Brown August 31st, 2007 4:54 pm

      Jeff – He’s a prolific lister who currently does over 400 sides annually, and will no doubt do much more than that in the near future.

      Listing agents control the market, whether there’s an MLS or not.

      And as far as the MLS being a monopoly? Respectfully, that’s one of the arguments used by those wanting in our wallets. If folks want another outlet – create one, but don’t pirate ours. Property owners list their properties with brokers because they expect results. When someone comes up with a better mousetrap, more power to them.

      I”m don’t land pro OR con on the MLS, Jeff. But calling them a monopoly is usually, I’m sure not in your case, but usually code for, “and we’re gonna use that to get at your supply of inventory without paying for it.”

      At Wallmart that’s called shoplifting.

      Monopolies in the free market cannot exist. (not talking about power companies etc.) If someone can compete with a superior product, bring ‘em on.

    6. Jeff Brown August 31st, 2007 4:58 pm

      Phil – Google could absolutely do that.

      And the morons and wannabes they’d hire as agents, if they HAD agents, would generate a stampede to experienced pros like yourself. I wouldn’t even want to contemplate that kind of operation in a slight bad or corrective market.

      Of course, the gov’t would probably step in and save all the morons who bought the wrong props, right? :)

    7. Robert Kerr August 31st, 2007 6:46 pm

      What’s gonna happen with our industry? In one sense I couldn’t care less, as they can’t take away my expertise, experience, performance track record, and/or knowledge.

      I would bet that many top travel agents felt the same way in their heyday. I’m much less certain – and much more cautious – about what the future holds.

    8. Jeff Brown August 31st, 2007 6:55 pm

      Hey Robert, glad to hear from you.

      I’m not incautious about the future. The travel agent thing has been used over and over, and it’s still not in most ways analogous to what I do. You could be trained to be a travel agent in a relatively short time. How long do you think it takes to make a solid real estate investment broker?

      The vast majority of the time someone thinks they can replicate what I do, I either hear directly from them a year or two later, asking for help, or hear about how they totally screwed the pooch.

      We both use the internet to book flights, right? Tell me the last time you heard of a non-professional (heck, even a pro) clicking his way to a seven figure net worth?

      Yeah, never.

      Have a great weekend Robert.

    9. Doug Quance September 1st, 2007 6:31 am

      I’m with you on this, Jeff.

      NAR costs as much as a my Vonage phone line (which gives me something of useful value) whereas I’m hard-pressed to think of the value NAR gives me.

      You’d think with the hundreds of millions of dollars NAR has received in recent years – they might have convinced us of their value…

    10. Phil Hoover September 1st, 2007 7:00 am

      I didn’t say that would WORK; just that I think something like that is likely in our future.
      The outcome would be chaos in the market, and I agree, knowledgable professionals providing exceptional service would finally be appreciated.
      It would cause consumers to finally realize that there is value to having a GOOD agent on your side.

    11. Jeff Brown September 1st, 2007 11:12 am

      Gotcha Phil.

    12. Jeff Brown September 1st, 2007 11:15 am

      Doug – I think the problem is the so called leadership are almost entirely made up of agents who couldn’t cut it. Having ‘employees’ in charge of an army of fearless independent contractors was, in hindsight, doomed from the start.

    13. Louisville real estate September 1st, 2007 12:42 pm

      I agree with Jeff Brown, the little guy loses out so often. And, not just in real estate either – there are many things. Take Target and Walmart for example. They both have so many things to offer the consumer that 99% of people would only shop at one of them if they had to choose between that and a mom ‘n pop shop.

    14. Michael Cook September 2nd, 2007 6:41 am


      Help me understand why everyone hates the NAR and yet still sends them money every year. As an investor, that seems like pure lunacy. If you simply got 20 great agents together in your immediate area, you could recreate the mls using those listings plus what is already free on the web. If, as you say, no one respects or listens to the NAR, why not do something about it and save your hard earned money? If they are as useless as you say, it should not take much, right? I dont understand why the best agents in an area, dont simply get together and publish their listings via the web or simply make a better mouse trap. It seems like very low hanging fruit. Additionally, if the best agents started walking, they would either have to change or they would simply fade away because they are only as good as their agents.

    15. Jeff Brown September 2nd, 2007 10:59 am

      Michael – I can make you understand very quickly.

      Stop talking about the MLS, when I was specifically talking about NAR.

      The MLS has a proven value historically. It is obviously going through needed changes now, and I’m willing to see how it all turns out.

      The NAR however, is like tits on a bull, pardon the expression.

      NAR isn’t the MLS. They the Idiocrisy nominally charge.

      The money? It’s analogous to driving eight blocks to save 4¢ a gallon – not worth the effort. NAR AND the MLS have very little affect on my income. I realize it’s different for others. You’re correct about what COULD happen, but the best agents, as you put it, are busy getting great results for their clients using the current system, thank you very much. If it was so horrible (MLS), what you suggest would’ve happened long ago.

      Of course, you already knew that, right? Right.

    16. Russell Shaw September 2nd, 2007 12:37 pm

      Three different quotes from Mark Twain:
      The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.
      All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence, and then success is sure.
      We have the best government that money can buy.

    17. Jeff Brown September 2nd, 2007 3:57 pm

      Russel – :)

    18. Robert Kerr September 2nd, 2007 7:46 pm

      The vast majority of the time someone thinks they can replicate what I do, I either hear directly from them a year or two later, asking for help, or hear about how they totally screwed the pooch.

      We both use the internet to book flights, right? Tell me the last time you heard of a non-professional (heck, even a pro) clicking his way to a seven figure net worth?

      The Internet is perfect for disintermediation and concentration of many service jobs, yours included.

      I don’t wish you failure, Jeff, I wish you success from clear and unbiased perspective, which I think you lack.

      How about this, Jeff. Make your case for exclusion: tell me one thing you provide that a financial website cannot?

    19. Jeff Brown September 2nd, 2007 8:18 pm

      Robert – You’ve thrown away your last bit of credibility with me.

      Unlike some of the others, I just don’t have the patience.

      I wish you well.

    20. Russell Shaw September 3rd, 2007 2:33 am

      Oh come on, Jeff. Can’t you just come up with a few hundred (or a few thousand) things to tell Robert that a robot doesn’t do very well?

      List them out, Jeff! Maybe ask a website for the answer?

    21. Robert Kerr September 3rd, 2007 8:45 am

      Actually, Russell, one is all I asked for. And not a robot, but a website.

    22. Jeff Brown September 3rd, 2007 2:13 pm

      It’s either a question from a bored reader, or it comes from ignorance, Russell. And as I said before, I’m bored to death with agenda driven questions having no basis in anything rational.

      My modified policy calls for me to opt out of those conversations. Frankly, after this guy’s question, I’d rather be rearranging my sock & underwear drawer.