Successful by Association: A Look at Your Local Realtor Associations

by Peter Thomas Ricci

cover_1-14-13It was in 1994 when the National Association of Realtors instituted the “broker’s choice” model for local Realtor associations, a move that radically changed how real estate agents in and around Chicago interacted with their associations.

No longer were Realtors obligated to join the association that represented their territory of business. A Realtor in West Town, for instance, was no longer required to join the Chicago Association of Realtors (CAR); a Realtor in River Forest did not have to join the Oak Park Area Association of Realtors (OPAAR); and lastly, no longer did the Realtor working in Naperville have to join the Mainstreet Organization of Realtors (MORe). From then on, agents were free to choose whichever Realtor association they wished to join, and through which association they would attain the two major benefits of membership: access to the MLS, and the official right to use the distinguished “Realtor” title.

And those benefits remain popular with Chicago’s real estate professionals. According to the most recent data from the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, there were more than 48,000 registered real estate brokers in the Chicagoland area as of October 2012, and the majority of them belong to a Realtor association. Indeed, between CAR, MORe, OPAAR, the North Shore-Barrington Association of Realtors (NSBAR), the Heartland Realtor Organization (HRO), the Three Rivers Association of Realtors and the Realtor Association of the Fox Valley, 68 percent of Chicagoland’s agents are part of a Realtor association (for a more detailed look at those associations, see our sidebar here).

But given that members of the seven local Realtor associations enjoy similar benefits, why do agents join one association and not another? With broker’s choice rights in place, how do agents choose
their association?

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  • Peggy Kayser says:

    I feel compelled to point out to Peter Ricci that Board of Choice was adopted by the National Association of Realtors; the state of Illinois really had nothing to do with it.

  • Andrea Geller says:

    Wouldn’t it be more efficient and a savings to real estate professionals to just have MRED bill the agents or brokers directly?
    Not sure I understand why we need to pay a local board for administration fees to act as a third party collection service.

  • Pradeep B. Shukla says:

    Very good overview of Organization’s perspective
    Programs like Custom Built and Listen 360 are very innovative and most welcome

  • dale taylor says:

    What a timely article now that Mainstreet is now giving their valued Agents a choice of how they want to receive their communications from the Association. May I suggest you write an article on the importance of Realtor Associations in their advocy efforts, work to stop Banks influencing the real estate market through countering the initial offers they get on their short-sales. By not working with the initial offers procured, these Banks are allowing far too many short-sales in the Chicago Southland to sit on the market, and eventually become foreclosures. Very nice photo of Tanya Corder.

  • Meredith Morris says:

    We would like to clarify the $360 MLS and SentriLock fee attributed to C.A.R. in the “How the Association Fees Stack Up” chart related to this article. As REALTORS® in an urban market, please note that the vast majority – upwards of 90 percent – of C.A.R. members have no need to subscribe to SentriLock. Therefore, C.A.R.’s fee is significantly more competitive than it appears. Most members pay just $260 for this line item.

  • BOB FLOSS says:

    I was one of those brokers who did just that. I left the board out west in the early ninties.I joined in and became the 2012 president. MY company was and still is in countryside Lagrange area. The chicaago Association of Realtors is a great board to belong to. Even after what happen to me I still beleive in the Association. Nothing wrong with the other boards. I do beleive I was the first person to hold the Office of Presendent from out west. I am proud to be a member of C A

    Bob Floss

  • Setsuko Motsinger says:

    Practical ideas ! I was fascinated by the points ! Does anyone know where I would be able to get ahold of a template MI FOC 78 form to fill out ?

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