Just in: the newest membership numbers from our local Realtor association, GLVAR. These numbers are not yet published, not yet made public, but I have them for my readers.
Before I release the count, allow me to remind my readers that I predicted a membership of less than 10,000.
This is what I wrote last week:
“Next week, January 5th, 2011, Realtor dues become payable. I predict that the Las Vegas area association, GLVAR, which once had a membership of around 19,000, could sink below 10,000.”
The count as of today is: 9,500!
For those of you who don’t know, yesterday was annual dues day. In other words, those who didn’t pay by yesterday’s deadline are no longer Realtors. Most brokers, not wanting to assume their associates debt, officially dropped those licensees who did not pay their dues by 5PM yesterday. Some of these dropped agents will reinstate their Realtor status at some point, but in my opinion, the majority of them will not.
The common refrain is how expensive dues have become. I don’t mean to sound insensitive here, and I am keenly aware of the economic climate in which we are all attempting to function. However, as I also said, the strong shall survive. GLVAR dues are prohibitively expensive for those agents who completed few if any transactions last year. But for those agents who are committed, full-time and actively practicing, Realtor membership is not seen as an expense, but rather, as an investment.
A real estate license without Realtor membership is like a contactor without tools. And you might even say that a licensee who switches from Realtor status to non-Realtor status is like a contractor who has pawned his tools. Sure, some people who pawn their possessions eventually recover them. But the majority do not. In other words, most licensees who give up their Realtor membership eventually give up their licenses, as well. Very, very few of them ever return to the full-time business of transacting real estate.
It is my professional opinion that Las Vegas never needed 19,000 Realtors! At one point, there were more Realtors than there were houses on the market. There just was not enough sales activity to keep all these Johnny-come-lately licensees in business, and at some point, it needed to shake out. Well, that time is now. We are officially half the size of what we were during the boom years.
With all of my associates at TR Realty and TR Alliance combined (almost 90 of us now!), we only lost one person. We did experience, however, several of my associates make the move from TR Realty (which requires Realtor membership) over to TR Alliance (which does not). But the vast majority of real estate companies do not even offer a non-MLS option, and I assure my readers that even for those companies that do, very few, if any, companies had results better than ours. From the early reports that I am getting, some companies have lost dozens and dozens of agents; the largest one might have lost hundreds.
The associates who made the switch to our non-MLS side, TR Alliance, were, with almost no exceptions, those who performed the worst in 2010. That group averaged less than one deal per agent for the entire year! So even looking at my company, which again, finished the year very, very strong, it is the part-timers, the non-producers, who encountered dues as an expense they could not afford, a bill they would not pay. I allow my associates to make the switch back to Realtor status any time, with virtually no cost. Let’s see how many of them do so this year.
Also, as I blogged before, I think that ultimately, this is a good thing for the industry and the general public. Especially in today’s market, transactions have become the most complex, difficult and time-consuming in history. Part-time agents cannot keep up with the training, education, trends, market conditions and skills that are essential to successfully close transactions. Some brokers, in fact, are shunning part-time agents, due to the increased liability and time that is required to help them when they do occasionally stumble upon a customer.
So, we have seen, and in my opinion will continue to see, a paring down of the number of qualified licensees (read, “Realtors”) who are actively participating in the Las Vegas real estate market.
We might see a small bounce in the membership number in the spring time, when the market improves. But unless there are drastic changes in the market or the cost of membership (both doubtful this year), the number might even decrease a bit more next January, when dues come around again.
Until that time, the public shall be better served by those who are committed enough to do this business full time, who take the initiative to attend frequent training classes, and those who are working with enough customers that GLVAR membership makes economic sense.