Redfin (NASDAQ:RDFN) has announced it will end its support of the National Association of Realtors (NAR), citing the organization’s fee requirements and what it dubbed as “a pattern of alleged sexual harassment.”
“We’ve had many meetings with NAR execs to explore compromises on the policies that would let us continue our support,” said Redfin CEO Glenn Kelman in a blog post announcing the Seattle-based company’s decision. “Since a Redfin-wide initiative to join NAR in 2017, we’ve paid more than $13 million in dues, in an effort to influence NAR to advocate for an open, technology-driven marketplace that would benefit consumers. We’ll now explore other ways to advance those goals.”
Kelman added that in “many marketplaces governed by its policies, NAR still blocks sellers from listing homes that don’t pay a commission to the buyer’s agent, and it blocks websites like Redfin.com from showing for-sale-by-owner listings alongside agent-listed homes. Removing these blocks would be easy, and it would make our industry more consumer-friendly and competitive.”
Kelman stated that Redfin resigned from NAR’s national board prior to the news coverage alleging that its president, Kenny Parcell, was accused was sexual harassment. Parcell resigned his position, but Kelman was not satisfied with NAR’s handling of the matter.
“We’d already been uncomfortable with the NAR’s positions on commissions when we read reports of sexist behavior and sexual harassment, by the NAR’s president and others, based on interviews with 29 former NAR employees,” he said. “NAR was aware of the allegations for months and in some cases years, but reacted only when those allegations became public, and only after the CEO said there wasn’t a problem. Many employees described a culture of intimidation and retribution; many are still calling for more accountability.”
Kelman went further by demanding that its broker and agents also leave NAR – a situation which he blamed solely on the trade organization.
“NAR rules require us to leave local and state associations even when our only beef is with the national association,” he continued. “The rules require that for a broker to be a member, she must pay dues for each of the agents under her supervision, regardless of whether an agent wants to be a member. The rules further say that if a broker isn’t a member, no agent under her supervision can be a member. This is like eating at a restaurant that requires you to buy food for your entire family even when you come in alone, and that also says no family member can dine there if you ever stop dining there too. The painful choice is to stop patronizing that restaurant altogether.”
Kelman challenged NAR to change its policies regarding access to multiple listing services (MLS), stating that in many markets membership in the organization is required for agents to access listing databases, lockboxes and industry-standard contracts.
“Redfin will continue our full support of the MLSs that brokers use to share listing data, and we’ll remain friends with the many fine people working at NAR and its local affiliates on economics, diversity, and pro-housing policies,” Kelman said. “We love our industry. We’ve tried to love NAR. But enough is enough.”