Many of you have questioned the value that you receive as a member of the local real estate association. Most agents feel obligated to participate because they have to, not because they see the benefits. We are often asked if new agents have to become members of the National Association of Realtors®. Our simple answer is 'yes, as a Realtor® company, all agents have to be members'. Agents are forced to be members by the local Realtor Association and they are required to pay Association dues to join the company of their choice. Only then can you go on to use your real estate license to make money. Something isn't right here...
Is this a union? A professional union that requires membership? I have always had an issue with being forced to join an organization just because I was told I have to. I expect to receive real value when I pay for a service - then why am I not receiving real value for my membership with the Realtor Association? What I really want is a choice. A choice to do what I feel is best for my business as an agent. A choice to join an organization because I see value in being a member. Let me be clear when I say that I am not against the idea of being a Realtor - I am against agents not being able to make the decision for themselves.
So what would a company look like if it was able to offer a choice? I see the Realtor Association working extremely hard to provide services that win over the customer—the agent—and offer exceptional customer service for the products and services that they provide. If an agent doesn't want to be a member, then he (she) is saying that he does not see a value and thus have a choice to run his business the way that he sees fit. Over the years, I have proposed many ideas to the Association to consider other options to provide agents with more of a choice. For example, something as simple as changing when membership dues are required to be paid. December 15th, really? That's the worst time of the year to ask for money from an agent. I also proposed a secondary membership status that allows agents to only be a member of the local association (non-Realtor) without the state and national association memberships. Each time, leadership within the association has rejected any ideas of change. So what has to be done?
I have decided to be bold and take a proactive position with the MLS and the Association. The MLS is a for-profit company that is separate from the Realtor Association. Most brokers and agents are not aware that under the MLS and Association bylaws, a company can have access to the MLS without being a Realtor company. Yes, it’s true! You will never read about this in an MLS newsletter because the Realtor Association solely owns our local MLS. A few months ago, a new company called "Platinum Realty 2.0" was formed to lead the charge for change in Kansas City. This new company applied to gain access to the MLS as a non-Realtor company three separate times over the months, only to be denied each time by the Realtor Association, not the MLS. As you can imagine, they are afraid of what we are trying to do for our agents and for all brokers in the city. I say good...be afraid, because you know that you are forcing agents to be members even if they do not want to be. Last week Platinum Realty 2.0 took legal action against the MLS and local board of Realtors in Kansas City. As a courtesy to my friends at the MLS and the Association, I personally hand delivered the petition to them and explained our position. I chose this direction to show that we are not going to hide behind an attorney and that we value the Association and the relationships that we have formed over the years. This was just business...not personal.
So, where does that leave us? Antitrust cases in other jurisdictions have rejected MLS requirements that participants be Realtor members to access MLS data. This is the written policy outlined in the local MLS bylaws. Platinum Realty 2.0 is owed the same level of access as any other company that pays the access fees, regardless whether the company is a Realtor company. Their rejection of the application and access to MLS data is a violation of their own written bylaws. Our goal is to have a neutral, third party determine our rights as well as yours.
Our crusade has just started and will take some time. As anything worth fighting for, it won't be easy. Even though our pursuit may be more costly than rewarding, I believe in what we are doing and wanted you to know where we stand. We will keep you posted on developments as we push forward to help agents. Platinum Realty 2.0 is a separate company, single-handedly fighting for your right to have a choice. We will use our vision for a changed industry to do something good for agents and we will continue to fight for all agents, at all companies.
Be bold - Go bold - Go Platinum!