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A pair of high-profile real estate agents have unveiled their effort to directly challenge the National Association of Realtors (NAR) as the trade organization representing their profession.

Jason Haber, a New York City-based agent with Compass, and Mauricio Umansky, the Los Angeles-based founder of the luxury brokerage The Agency and a celebrity on several reality television shows, previewed their new American Real Estate Association (AREA) as a NAR alternative.

In a New York Times interview, Umansky said that AREA will provide its members with a nationwide database of home listings called the National Listing Service – a preliminary version is now online at theNLS.com.

“A centralized database with access to the full scope of listings across the country is better for everyone in the industry, and someone just had to do it,” Umansky said.

AREA will also allow agents to set their own commission rates and will not mandate cooperation between buyer and seller agents.

Details on AREA’s daily operations have not been defined – a headquarters city has not been determined and the funding for the endeavor is currently coming from its founders’ wallets. Haber and Umansky said the new trade group will not have a president and vice president, although it was unclear who would be in charge of operations or if AREA would have regional offices.

Nonetheless, the men believe the time is right for another real estate trade group, particularly in the wake of the multiple scandals and legal challenges that NAR has faced over the past year.

“NAR was too big to fail, until it failed,” Haber said. “People want something different. We’re setting ourselves up for failure if we try to replicate the NAR model.”

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