The following letter is from Redfin’s leadership team: 

Redfin is moving to end our support of the National Association of Realtors for two reasons:

  • NAR policies requiring a fee for the buyer’s agent on every listing
  • a pattern of alleged sexual harassment. 

A Long Time Coming

We’ve had many meetings with NAR execs to explore compromises on the policies that would let us continue our support. Since a Redfin-wide initiative to join NAR in 2017, we’ve paid more than $13 million in dues, in an effort to influence NAR to advocate for an open, technology-driven marketplace that would benefit consumers. We’ll now explore other ways to advance those goals. 

A Pattern of Alleged Sexual Harassment

We’d already been uncomfortable with the NAR’s positions on commissions when we read reports of sexist behavior and sexual harassment, by the NAR’s president and others, based on interviews with 29 former NAR employees. NAR was aware of the allegations for months and in some cases years, but reacted only when those allegations became public, and only after the CEO said there wasn’t a problem. Many employees described a culture of intimidation and retribution; many are still calling for more accountability.

Resigning from the NAR Board

Redfin had already resigned our national board seat in June, before the alleged sexual harassment came to light. In the many marketplaces governed by its policies, NAR still blocks sellers from listing homes that don’t pay a commission to the buyer’s agent, and it blocks websites like from showing for-sale-by-owner listings alongside agent-listed homes. Removing these blocks would be easy, and it would make our industry more consumer-friendly and competitive. 

Redfin Will Require Many of Our Agents To Resign From NAR

Now, after careful deliberation, Redfin will go further than resigning from the NAR board, requiring our brokers and agents to leave NAR everywhere we can. Most brokerages are only a loose affiliation of independent agents, and none of us wants to impose a policy that could alienate any of the people who generate our revenue.

NAR Has Forced An All-or-Nothing Choice On Us

But this all-or-nothing approach isn’t of Redfin’s choosing. NAR rules require us to leave local and state associations even when our only beef is with the national association. The rules require that for a broker to be a member, she must pay dues for each of the agents under her supervision, regardless of whether an agent wants to be a member. The rules further say that if a broker isn’t a member, no agent under her supervision can be a member. 

So We Choose Nothing

This is like eating at a restaurant that requires you to buy food for your entire family even when you come in alone, and that also says no family member can dine there if you ever stop dining there too. The painful choice is to stop patronizing that restaurant altogether. 

In Many Markets, We Can’t Even Do That

But often we don’t even have that choice. In about half the U.S., including in cities like Charlotte, Dallas, Houston, Las Vegas, Long Island, Minneapolis, Nashville, Phoenix and Salt Lake City, we can’t quit NAR individually or en masse, because NAR membership is required for agents to access listing databases, lockboxes, and industry-standard contracts. It’s impossible to be an agent if you can’t see which homes are for sale, or unlock the door to those homes, or even write an offer. 

We Want NAR to Decouple MLS Access from NAR Support

We’re asking NAR to decouple local access to these tools, including the listing databases known as Multiple Listing Services, from support for the national lobbying organization. Agents shouldn’t have to underwrite policies and legal efforts that hurt consumers when most of us got into real estate to help consumers. Redfin’s mission after all is to redefine real estate in consumers’ favor. 

We’re Committed to Our Industry’s Future. NAR Isn’t the Future.

Our disagreement is with NAR, not with our industry. Brokerages can compete on price and still cooperate to show all the homes for sale. Redfin will continue our full support of the MLSs that brokers use to share listing data, and we’ll remain friends with the many fine people working at NAR and its local affiliates on economics, diversity, and pro-housing policies. We love our industry. We’ve tried to love NAR. But enough is enough.

Anna Stevens | Anthony Kappus | Bridget Frey | Chris Nielsen | Christian Taubman | Glenn Kelman | Jason Aleem | Keith Broxterman

Read More