Whether it was last month, last year or several years ago, you got your real estate license. Many of you then went out into the world to find an office. You might have talked with one, two or several brokers before deciding where you would hang your license. Then came the paperwork.
Depending on how long ago that was, you may have forgotten that your head was filled with many pieces of information and it was difficult to see how it would all fit together. You may have forgotten that your heart was filled with hope and promise that you would succeed. And, you may have forgotten the fear and trepidation that filled your being as you began to fill out forms and join associations and pay dues. Every year, you have to renew and pay the dues. It may be that you “just do it” because you believe it is necessary. You are correct, if you want to continue practicing as you have been practicing, you have to keep paying the piper.
As a matter of fact, your membership with the NAR was not a free choice. It was a forced choice. If you wanted to use the term “Realtor” when referring to yourself, you were required to be a member of the NAR. You had to join your local association to have access to the multiple listing service. Of course, you then had to become a fee paying customer to the local multiple listing service.
If you had your wits about you, you may have inquired “what are the benefits of joining the local association and the NAR?” I have no doubt, the answer you received was something like “All of our agents are members” or “You have to be a member to have access to the MLS” or something along those lines.
The actual benefits touted by the NAR include a discount at the national convention that amounts to about 27 cents a day. ($100/365 days). You can also purchase the “entertainment book” at a discount. You can rent a car at a discount. Sprint gives you a discount. Dell computers will double the public discount for you. If your credit is up to snuff, you can get a VISA card with the word “Realtor” on it. You can call yourself a “Realtor”.
I won’t overlook the fact that you can have access to educational programs that will garner you some very ego gratifying alphabet soup that you can put on your business card. I certainly appreciate the access to continuing education.
I don’t see any Medical Insurance Benefits. I do see a blurb that the NAR has 1.7 million members. I am aware that in 1999, the Federal Government had 1.9 million employees and that seemed to be large enough to attract every major medical insurance carrier to the table with group policies. We have 1.7 million members and nobody in the NAR can find a carrier that would like to add that base to their roles?
There is something wrong with that picture. It is not that I don’t appreciate all the effort put forth to garner that discount on the “Entertainment Book”. I do. I must use it at least 10 times a year. I just think it may be a little farther down the benefit list on my ledger.
Is it possible that the same brain storming that develops a non-functional advertising program, the same think tank of market mavens that over looked the changing market in the last 10 years, may not be aware that their membership is made up of largely self employed independent contractors? Is it possible that the salaried employees of our NAR don’t understand our angst because they have access to group health insurance?
I think it is wrong to leave so many out in the cold. It is wrong to expect 1.7 million members to fend for themselves and pay the higher cost of individual health plans. It is bad enough that we have to overcome the misguided pronouncements of your public relations department. We expect an effort to be made to develop a relationship with a major health insurance carrier. We will not be satisfied until one is in place.
Stories of agents suffering medical catastrophe’s are rampant. Stories of agents doing what they can to support one another abound. None of those stories should ever have needed to be told. I keep hearing “One million strong and growing”. I read we are nealy 2 million strong. There is something wrong with that many people being unified in one organization and not having access to a medical plan.
Membership has it’s priviledges. One of the basic necessities is medical coverage. I would trade my “Entertainment Book” and two discount car rentals for access to a group medical plan.