What If We Replaced NAR Directors With Randomly Selected REALTORS?

By |2018-06-25T06:00:23+00:00June 25th, 2018|Main category|7 Comments

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.


  1. Kenneth Jenny June 25, 2018 at 8:14 am - Reply

    The short answer is that if you did this, for once and for the first time, the “of ” in the “National Association of Realtors” might actually have some meaning. And at the conclusion of what would need to be a total ground zero reconstruction of the Association, the new name would be the “National Association for Realtors.”

  2. Gerhard Ade June 25, 2018 at 8:22 am - Reply

    What if NAR membership would be a choice? What if any licensed real estate agent could choose to join? What if NAR wouldn’t work like an old fashioned labor union?

  3. Russell Hokanson June 25, 2018 at 8:32 am - Reply

    Victor –

    You might double-check the most recent version of the NAR By-laws. I believe they eliminated the category of large franchisors (150+) as Directors two years ago, because by NAR’s admission, they had no way to track this accurately.

  4. Marge Phillips June 25, 2018 at 9:27 am - Reply

    I share his thoughts that something needs to change, as being a politician was never intended to become a career. They were representatives of the country and the idea of lobbyists makes it work even less effectively. Within the REALTOR association, it’s a little more random but certainly not at the NAR level. We already have individuals politicking to be on their board and lobbying in some ways the locals to support them. So, nothing really random there and only associations with over 2000 members actually have any representation at the National level, so no one brings their thoughts and etc. about the industry to the table. And actually now they have changed the focus of their job description that they don’t represent the local REALTORS, they are there to safe guard the national association and always vote for what’s best for it rather than the members, or as they phrase it, what’s best for the National would of course be best for the locals. There’s room for change.

  5. Lynnore Fetyko June 25, 2018 at 10:32 am - Reply

    Great ponder! I totally 200 percent agree the NAR board of directors is to large to be functional. I have been an observer of the Washington Board meetings for over 25 years! I have been amazed at the amount of money approved for various ventures many with no questions asked. Then to my surprise after year after year of over the top positive financial reports NAR has to tighten their belt and raise dues! WHAT! Who is really watching the ship? My experience has been when there are to many Top Chiefs at the table everyone thinks someone else has their finger on the pulse as they have a plateful and may not be focused always. Who should go? Now that would be a fun to watch:)

  6. Tony Powell June 25, 2018 at 1:42 pm - Reply

    “The purpose is to create a representative microcosm of society and they would determine how we share and manage common resources”.
    This is disingenuous at best.
    ‘Democracy in Ancient Athens?” How did it work out for them?
    Isn’t a ‘pure’ democracy, ‘mob rule’?.
    Q “The only exception is the number of small Association AEs that are not sharp.”.
    This perspective is typical of a conforming member of an entrenched elite. “If you don’t think as I do, you are ‘not sharp’.
    All Elected officials (Politics or business, paid or volunteer) are. to a very large extent ‘puppets’ of their un-elected administrators.
    ‘Newbies’ are seated at the end of the table and told to ‘listen & learn’ which, of course, means, “This is what we do, and how we do it.”
    A ‘sharpy’ , like this author, quickly learns that, “To get along, you have to go along”.
    That’s why ‘un-electing’ doesn’t work.
    In my experience, over the years as a ‘charter/founding’ member of several groups, ‘Representative Government’ doesn’t work.
    It’s irrelevant how a ‘governing board’ is chosen. Because, over time, those members evolve into a “Self-Government.”
    That means governing for yourself and dismissing your lowly members as ‘Less Sharp’, with no ideas or suggestions which are worthy of consideration by your high intellect.
    Many years ago I asked the CEO of a very successful company why the suggestion box was anonymous. “Shouldn’t people get credit for their contributions?” I asked.
    He said, “It’s very simple. Leadership can’t be allowed to evaluate contributions on the basis of the signature. Everything that Albert Einstein said wasn’t smart. But everything Gomer Pyle said wasn’t dumb”.
    Is there a ‘better way?’
    As I see it, “We, The People” need the right of a Single-Issue Veto, over all and any action proposed by our representatives. Like:-
    Q-Should the NAR endorse political parties &/or candidates?
    Q-Should membership decide on the make-up of the NAR BoD?
    Same goes for all Local, State & Federal electees.
    In fact, if Congress, The Senate, The President. and the US Supreme Court can’t make a decision on major issues like Control of invasion under the guise of Immigration, regulation of toxic drugs, women’s rights to abortion, Health Care Programs for the elite, which are not available to the peasants.
    The list of possibilities goes on and on.
    The validity of a Representative Democracy (including the NAR Board) is dead and gone.
    We, The People, might not be as sharp as the writer, but we’d like to be heard anyway. . . . .

  7. Donn Wonderling June 25, 2018 at 2:25 pm - Reply

    I think when you said not to take this too seriously, what you really meant was, “Take this seriously.” And frankly, if that’s what you meant, I agree.

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