New Trade Association A.R.E.A. Emerges in Direct Opposition to N.A.R.

National Association of Realtors office in Kentucky | Eric Glenn/

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) was founded in 1908 as a trade group for professionals in the real estate sector. Despite NAR’s membership of over 1.5 million and its professed mission to protect the interests of buyers and sellers, the organization has faced challenges. 

In recent years, multiple women have accused former NAR president Kenny Parcell of sexual harassment, leading to his eventual resignation. This was a major blow for the trade group, with real estate agencies such as Redfin distancing itself from NAR and encouraging others in the industry to follow suit. 

Antitrust lawsuits have further tarnished the organization’s reputation. Just last year, NAR had to pay considerable damages to home sellers after a grand jury determined that the organization needlessly inflated fees owed to real estate agents.

Amid the negative press, scandals, and legal issues, NAR’s reputation has sustained considerable damage. These challenges were instrumental in influencing real estate agents Jason Haber and Mauricio Umansky to found the American Real Estate Association (AREA). As indicated by their new company’s slogan, Haber and Umansky want to inspire agents to “Trade Up.”

Outside of real estate, Haber has also written books and worked at John Jay College as an adjunct professor. Umansky sits on the board of the Giveback Homes charity, while also leading The Agency, a conglomerate firm that assists agents with their real estate endeavors. 

Both Haber and Umansky maintain that AREA will right the wrongs of NAR and serve as an overall net positive to the real estate market. This new organization had been in the developmental stages for a while; however, the co-founders accelerated the launch of AREA in response to the aforementioned NAR scandals.

In many ways, AREA is positioned as an antidote to NAR, with the new agency pledging universal member access to the National Listing Service (NLS)—a comprehensive database of homes for sale across the nation. NAR, on the other hand, limits access to Multiple Listing Services (MLS) to its agency members. 

AREA is still working on fully completing the NLS and raising more capital. Also, Haber and Umansky have promised that when they initiate monthly membership fees, in about six months, the charges will fall between $400 and $500. This amounts to approximately half the fees associated with NAR, along with state and local Realtor organizations.

If AREA pans out as its founders intend, home buyers and sellers will certainly notice tangible changes in the real estate market. Alongside lower dues and broader access to listings, the new trade association will empower agents working on behalf of sellers or buyers to establish their own commission rates. 

In response to AREA entering the scene, NAR expressed via email to Housing Wire that it welcomes competition in the real estate market and expressed confidence in the benefits and “unmatched value” provided to its members.

At the same time, AREA claims to have received positive feedback from individuals eager for “something new.”