Mauricio Umansky, founder of The Agency and star of Buying Beverly Hills, and Compass agent and NAR Accountability Project founder Jason Haber are making good on a promise to explore a real estate professional trade organization alternative to the National Association of Realtors. The two industry professionals are asking agents to “Trade Up” and give their new group, the American Real Estate Association, a try. The launch of AREA was announced on Tuesday, as first reported by The New York Times.
According to the Times article, Haber and Umansky are expected to formally launch AREA on Wednesday at the Inman Connect real estate conference in New York City.
Haber and Umansky had planned to launch their new trade group at a later date, but ultimately decided to push ahead due to the mounting pile of commission lawsuits facing NAR, as well as Tracy Kasper’s unexpected resignation as NAR president earlier this month.
“We felt it was time to put this out in the public forum and to start building a community around it because we were hearing from agents that they wanted something different, but you can’t replace something like NAR with nothing — you have to have something to replace it with, otherwise it is just talk,” Haber said. “We don’t believe this is time for talk, this is time for action.”
As part of their AREA membership, agents will gain access to the National Listing Service, a nationwide database of home listings built off the technology that powers Umansky’s own private listing service. The website for the NLS (theNLS.com) is currently live with limited listings.
“Over a decade ago, when I founded The Agency, I had a clear vision to create a brokerage built by agents, and for agents. To this day, my founding mission has never wavered and I am always looking for opportunities to advance and empower agents all over the country and around the world,” Umansky wrote in an email. “Through this incredible journey, I believe it is important to give back and do better, especially for an industry that has given so much to me. As we forge ahead, I am committed to positive advancement not just for The Agency but for our entire industry.”
AREA will not be charging membership dues for at least another six months, but Haber and Umansky estimate annual dues will be between $400 and $500. The new trade group will allow agents to set their own commission rates and will not require cooperation between buyer and seller agents. The group will not have a president or vice president, and Haber and Umansky said they are still exploring where they will headquarter the trade group. So far, sites in Florida and Texas are under consideration.
“It is important for any association to demonstrate very tangibly, its value proposition,” Haber told HousingWire earlier this month “I think it is important that you join an organization not just because you have to, but because you want to. So, what that means is, that the goal isn’t to run up and have a million members, but to have members who want to be in the association and who want to help make a difference.”
In addition to the location of the firm’s headquarters, Haber and Umansky are still ironing out funding for the group. They are currently funding the organization with their own money, but they hope to raise between $50 million and $100 million from investors.
“We are underway, and the reaction has been really positive,” Haber said. “People are really excited and they are embracing the idea of something new.”
In an emailed comment, NAR’s vice president of communications, Mantill Williams, wrote that NAR members have always thrived in competitive environments.
“NAR is future-focused and remains committed to leading and fostering dialogue and actions that encompass diverse perspectives. We maintain best-in-class advocacy efforts, provide unmatched value to our members through an array of benefits, and continue to lead our industry forward,” Williams wrote.
This story was updated to include comment from Mantill Williams of NAR.