This is a whimsical article. Don’t take it to seriously, but take a moment to think about this question with me. My favorite activity on the weekends is to watch a few Ted Talks. This article was inspired by a 9 minute Ted Talk about politicians and democracy, titled What if we replaced politicians with randomly selected people?

In the Ted Talk, Author and Activist Brent Henning presents a compelling case for sortation democracy. Rather than elect officials, they are randomly selected from society along the lines of society demographics – age, sex, religion, wealth, location, etc. The inspiration comes from ancient Athens where they implemented this system because of the corruption in politicians and monarchs. The purpose is to create a representative microcosm of society and they would determine how we share and manage common resources.

Henning did a very interesting straw poll of his audience. He asked, raise your hand if think that democracy is a good thing. Every hand in the room went up. I believe, without a doubt, that if I asked a room full of agents if they think that having a trade organization to represent their interests and the interests of homeowners is a good thing, every hand in the room would go up.

Then Henning asks a different question of his audience. Who thinks our democracies are functioning well? Not a single hand in the room is raised. I would not suggest that hands would not go up if the question was posed to Realtors regarding their NAR Board of Directors. I guess that the question would be something like “raise your hand if you think that the NAR Board of Directors is functioning well. I think quite a few hands would go up. Perhaps even a majority. I am not sure.

NAR Board Composition

  • Real Estate Brokerage Franchise Organization with 150 franchises
  • Top 75 largest brokerages
  • State Representatives
  • Large Local Board Representatives
  • Up to 4 outsiders
  • Board/State Forum Chairs
  • Real Estate Specialties Representatives
  • A Realtor
  • Commercial Overlay Board Representatives
  • Association Executive Representatives
  • Distinguished Service Award recipients
  • Presidents of the International Affiliate Organizations
  • State Presidents
  • Regional Vice Presidents
  • Committee Liaisons
  • Past Presidents
  • Presidents of Institutes, Societies and Councils
  • Executive Committee Members
  • Vice President and Liaison to Committees
  • NAR Officers

In total, the number of NAR Directors totals somewhere around 727 Realtors. Just as a point of reference, there are 535 members of United States Congress, 435 serve in the US House of Representatives. But there is a big difference here, not only in count but also volunteer vs. elected. The top 75 firms and the top Franchisors with more than 150 franchises are a good example of earned position. There are many others on this list. AEs are hired. Still others are appointed. As I go down the list, I have no argument with the categories with few exceptions.

So I ask these questions, and invite you to raise your hand if you agree that

  1. …the NAR Board of Directors too large?
  2. …the NAR Board of Directors is a good demographic representative of Realtors?
  3. …would Board Decisions be significantly different if Directors were selected though the process of sortation (random by demographic)?

I am not trying to stir the pot here. In fact, if called upon to testify I would say that in my decades of attending NAR Midyear and NAR Annual, I rarely find a volunteer Realtor director that is not sharp. The only exception is the number of small Association AEs that are not sharp.  I think that this is economic. Small Associations rarely have the treasury to hire great AEs, and as a result, many are entry level. I know that this sounds harsh, but it is my anecdotal experience. Obviously, I do not know every one of the more than 1000 AEs nor have I measured their sharpness.

Anyway, watch this video. It inspired these thoughts, and this article.