After closing out 2023 with its first annual membership decline since 2012, the National Association of Realtors is still struggling with its membership count.
In January, NAR membership dropped 2.5% from the month prior to 1,515,837 members, according to the trade group’s monthly report released on Monday. This is down 2.1% compared to a year prior.
January marked the third consecutive month of membership declines for NAR and the month’s Realtor count marks the lowest level since May 2021.
Since hitting a peak of 1.6 million members in October 2022, NAR membership has declined 5.3%. However, the 85,049 agents lost between October 2022 and January of 2024, is still well below the 400,000-agent drop recorded between 2008 and 2012.
Although this is positive news, NAR’s chief economist Lawrence Yun signaled that he expects further losses through 2025.
“Further membership decline should be anticipated, given the reduction in business opportunities over the past two years,” Yun wrote in the report.
Despite the declines, Yun wrote that membership numbers were holding up better than he had anticipated based on the decline in home sales since 2021.
“To date, the membership figures are holding on much better than the market dynamics suggest,” Yun wrote. “Existing-home sales fell to the lowest since 1995, nearly 30 years. Inventory of listings is at historic lows.”
Yun noted, however, that there is an 18-to-24-month lag, as some Realtors are slow to give up their membership.
“Most state and local associations should anticipate further declines in membership over the next 24 months based on the lag effects of past housing cycles,” Yun said.
In addition to challenging market conditions causing Realtors to allow their membership to lapse, four brokerages are no longer requiring agents to be members of the trade organization. RE/MAX, Anywhere and Keller Williams wrote in their settlement agreements with the plaintiffs in the Moehrl and Sitzer/Burnett commission lawsuits that they would no longer require agents to be NAR members. Redfin is the fourth firm no longer requiring NAR membership. The Glenn Kelman-helmed firm announced the policy change in October when it told agents to no renew their membership where geographically possible.
While the nationwide agent count was down month-over-month, four states saw membership grow on a monthly from December to January: Nebraska, Rhode Island, Utah and Mississippi, with Rhode Island posting the largest gain at 1.02% to 5,263 agents. The Realtor count in Puerto Rico remained steady, while all other states posted declines. Washington, D.C. posted the largest monthly decline at 8.95% to 2,584 agents.
On a year-over-year basis, membership rose in Florida, Ohio, Tennessee, Missouri, South Carolina, Indiana, Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, Montana, Maine, West Virginia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. Puerto Rico posted the largest annual gain at 20.1%, bringing its agent count to 1,237 agents, while Washington, D.C. again posted the largest decline at 17.02%.