Consider This: MANAR + REBNY = HARMONY

Seems like a simple enough equation right?  Wrong!  For years these two Manhattan residential real estate trade organizations have considered themselves competitors.  Not only is this silly but it has continued to be a market obstacle for both the consumer and real estate agents by creating incredible inefficiencies that could so easily be solved with some sincere cooperation (no egos please).

Let’s first break down the two organizations:

MANAR:  In the spirit of full disclosure, I am indeed a member of the Board of MANAR (the Manhattan Association of Realtors), our local Board of the National Association of Realtors (NAR) which is one of the largest trade organizations in the country and advocates for both the consumer as well as it’s members.  Check out this blurb directly from the MANAR website:

In a marketplace flooded with real estate companies, REMEMBER, only those professionals who choose membership in a REALTOR® association like Manhattan Association of REALTORS®, are truly REALTORS®.  It is not a generic term to describe all individuals who hold a real estate license.  As a registered trademark of the National Association of REALTORS®, it designates a practitioner as a member who ascribes to the highest standards of professional practice and theREALTOR® Code of Ethics. The REALTOR® Code of Ethics provides a meaningful guide to appropriate business conduct in dealings with clients, customers, the public, and each other.  Adherence to the Code helps each REALTOR® navigate through our ever-changing industry, and its complex legal environment.

Excellent!  An organization that is policing it’s members and holding them to a higher standard!  But wait…

REBNY (The Real Estate Board of New York): Just as an FYI and in the same spirit of disclosure as above, I am also a member of REBNY although not currently a Board member (there is still time for REBNY to make my Bucket List).  REBNY also is a self governing body of licensed real estate brokers and agents.  they too hold their members to a ‘higher standard” as supported by the following from their website:

Code of Ethics and Professional Practices

REBNY’s members, and those affiliated with them, honor the Board’s Code of Ethics. The Code, which applies to all Board members, clarifies licensees’ responsibilities to their colleagues and to the public.

If an alleged Code violation involves an issue over money, the matter can be handled by voluntary mediation or binding arbitration. Non-monetary disputes are resolved by the Ethics Committee or its subcommittee of the Residential Brokerage Division.

The Residential Brokerage Division’s RLS Universal Co-Brokerage Agreement Rules and Regulations supplement the Code of Ethics for residential practitioners. Members of REBNY’s Residential Division must adhere to these Regulations.

By all members observing the Real Estate Board’s Code of Ethics and Residential Brokerage Division members additionally following the RLS Universal Co-Brokerage Agreement Rules and Regulations, we provide fair treatment for all licensees participating in a transaction, and protect the interests of buyers and sellers.

For a printable PDF of The Code of Ethics, click here.

Sounds familiar right? Once upon a time REBNY was a charter member of NAR but effective January 1, 1994, that changed as REBNY decided that the Realtor designation and the money spent at the state (NYSAR) and national (NAR) levels for membership was not necessary.

As a member of both organizations and an active member of the Board of MANAR, I can honestly say that there has never been a time in which it was more important for these two organizations to join hands that ever before.

Sadly it is my opinion that the almighty dollar is standing in the way of what I propose should be a merger of the two organizations under a charter with the NAR and NYSAR. Why you ask?  Because Manhattan, many would suggest the greatest city in the world, is struggling to adapt an ALL-INCLUSIVE multiple listing service when the rest of the country and much of the world has not only adapted the MLS system but enhanced it to make the home buying and selling process more efficient (most of the time) than in markets where an MLS is void.  The Manhattan MLS (username and password required) which is indeed a true MLS is made up of property data supplied by MANAR members only but does in fact allow MANAR members who are also REBNY members to distribute listings to the entire brokerage community. MANAR is definitely growing by leaps and bounds but still a mere fraction of the membership of REBNY.  REBNY is simultaneously building an MLS-like portal that will unfortunately “compete” with the MLS.  It is all about the race to capitalize on the profits that MLS’s across the country realize year after year.

My proposition:

1.  REBNY and MANAR merge to become the sole NAR charter in New York City.

2.  Down the road, put politics aside and consider a regional merger with Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx and Staten Island Boards of Realtors.

3.  Create a heirarchy and infrastructure voted on by members to merge the MLS data in all 5 boroughs.

4.  Provide a public portal allowing the consumer transparent access to all housing data.

5.  Everyone lives happily ever after…

And then I woke up!  I don’t think this scenario is completely out of the question but we as an industry must insist on cooperation.  I don’t pay dues so that I can fuel a fire.  The consumer must also DEMAND a better system much in the way that they embraced StreetEasy while brokerages across the city attempted to withhold their data.  But as long as REBNY is not an NAR charter and MANAR is seen as a competitor to REBNY (why can’t we all just get along) the path will continue to be long and bumpy which is precisely why our market remains infected with a proprietary philosophy regarding property information.

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