The membership of the National Association of Realtors shrank by 1.7 percent last year as the trade group weathered a tough market and major lawsuits.
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What was expected for months has finally been confirmed: Real estate’s most powerful trade group lost members in 2023 for the first time in well over a decade.
National Association of Realtors membership declined by more than 26,000 in 2023, which amounts to a 1.7 percent decline from last year’s ranks. By the end of December, the organization’s total membership had settled at 1.55 million.
The decline in agent count throughout the nation largely reflects the weakened housing market, in which higher mortgage rates suppressed listings and buyers across the nation, leaving fewer transactions — and commissions — to go around. In the back half of the year, the losses also coincide with commission lawsuits and NAR leadership scandals that led some major brokerage brands to no longer require agents to be members of the national trade group.
Membership growth had already begun to weaken in 2022, which saw annual membership growth slow to a 1.4 percent increase, down from 6.9 percent the year before.
But two big seasonal shifts did the heavy lifting to get the trade group to where it is today: A bigger-than-expected falloff in membership last winter, and a weaker-than-usual membership gain in spring.
The trade group normally sees a seasonal outflow of agents in the winter slow season. From December 2022 through February, NAR’s membership dropped by roughly 72,000. That’s a significantly bigger drop than the seasonal decline of that same period the previous year, when the group reported a decline of 46,000 agents.
The weak growth numbers continued through the spring when NAR membership usually picks back up. This year, the ranks of NAR members rose by nearly 25,000 in the spring. This boost wasn’t enough to push NAR into positive territory for the year overall; over the same period the previous year, NAR reported a 41,000-member increase.
In the second half of 2023, the numbers looked more similar to the back half of 2022. Realtor count dropped by 5,200 in the final six months of this past year, compared to a 4,300-member increase the year before. Since the start of the pandemic, however, NAR had enjoyed much larger gains in the final six months of each year: a 62,000 member gain in 2020, and a 38,000 member increase in 2021.