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Do you believe the California Association of Realtors (CAR) provides you valuable services for your annual dues?

  • No (70%, 481 Votes)
  • Yes (30%, 206 Votes)

Total Voters: 687

Updated 05-10-2012

Many real estate licensees wrongly believe they must join the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the California Association of Realtors (CAR) or the local Association of Realtors (AOR) branch of CAR to practice real estate in California, too often equating these trade union leviathans to the Department of Real Estate (DRE) due to their past close liaison.

Other licensees have a slightly better grasp on the implications of membership or non-membership in the real estate trade union versus DRE licensing, but still mistakenly believe that union membership is necessary in order to access their local multiple listing services (MLS).

This impression is not unfounded. Before 1976, most real estate trade union boards owned and required all access to the MLS to include membership in their association. Such practice was prohibited in 1976. [Marin County Board of Realtors, Inc. v. Palsson (1976) 16 C3d 920]

Palsson prohibited making association membership a requirement for MLS access to the marketplace. The association was allowed to exact a “reasonable fee” from nonmembers, derogatorily called Palsson members, for MLS access.  Of course, the bundling continued with the AORs claiming ownership of data behind all the published listings, giving access only to their card-carrying members.

Related article:

The MLS environment

So, let’s get the facts straight: trade union membership is not required to practice real estate and it is not required to access an MLS. Give your local association a call — they know the rules.

Related article:

Letter to the Editor: trade union membership not a licensing requirement

To access an AOR-owned MLS, an individual must:

  • have a valid California real estate license;
  • be a broker, or a sales agent under a broker who is a member of the MLS;
  • apply for access to the MLS; and
  • pay a fee, which varies by AOR.

If an agent’s broker is not a member of an AOR, the agent is not required to be a member of an AOR. However, if a broker is a member of an AOR, his agents must also be members of the AOR in order to access the broker’s MLS.

No other restrictions apply. Real estate agents and brokers can continue to access an MLS without paying excessive and unnecessary dues or entangling themselves in a trade union’s bureaucracy, codes and arbitration rules.

Knowledge is power — and this case, money saved.