R New York Becomes 1st Big Brokerage To Join NAR Challenger

With the addition, roughly 800 agents will boost the American Real Estate Association’s membership by nearly 30 percent to about 3,800 members.

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Mauricio Umansky and Jason Haber’s American Real Estate Association has just gained a bit of clout with the addition of its first big brokerage member, R New York.

With the addition, roughly 800 agents will boost the NAR challenger’s membership by nearly 30 percent to about 3,800 members, The Real Deal reported.

Before the firm joined the American Real Estate Association, R New York’s president, Stefani Berkin, had become a member of the association’s advisory board.

Berkin expressed high hopes for the association to grow to one day supersede NAR.

“I’m hoping it can be the dominant organization nationwide,” Berkin told TRD. “I think it’s exactly what real estate agents need and what the industry has not been able to offer until now.”

Compass’ Haber and The Agency’s Umansky announced the American Real Estate Association in January after becoming frustrated with NAR’s response to crucial industry issues like the series of commission lawsuits that swept the nation in the last year and Measure ULA (which has created an uproar in Umansky’s LA market), not to mention the association’s own leadership turmoil.

However, Haber recently noted that he and Umansky would like to see NAR get through its crisis so that their new association can work together with the existing one.

“We don’t spend time bashing them, we’re critical when they are worthy,” Haber said. “We hope they’re successful and navigate through this. They are very strong, particularly at the federal level … We hope we can work in tandem with them if that’s possible.”

In the few months since American Real Estate’s unveiling, the association’s advocacy has primarily focused on sending letters to major lenders following the NAR settlement, asking them to update their terms of mortgages to allow buyers to finance the cost of their real estate agents.

“We spoke to Fannie,” Haber told TRD. “The challenge is that the way the mortgage industry works in this country is you underwrite the asset, not the expense of acquiring the asset. It would really require some pretty robust structural changes.”

Brokerages who may wish to leave NAR are in a bind since the association controls so many MLSs across the country and requires membership to its association in order for agents to access the MLS. New York City is one exception since the Real Estate Board of New York controls the Residential Listing Service, a service that firms can access even if they are not NAR members.

“Part of the whole issue is that if you want access to an MLS, you shouldn’t also have to join a trade association,” Berkin said.

Haber started a petition to remove former NAR president Kenny Parcell last summer after several sexual harassment allegations against the former president came to light. Following the petition, Haber created a second petition and then founded the NAR Accountability Project.

Last month, NAR agreed to pay $418 million to settle its commission lawsuits and to make significant changes to industry practices.

Haber said that he and Umansky both hope one future outcome of the settlement is a nationwide MLS.

“It just shows you that just because something has been a certain way for 100 years doesn’t mean it’s going to continue that way,” he said.

Email Lillian Dickerson

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