5 Reasons You Should Join Your Local Board of Realtors

business-conference-realtorsIf you’re new to the real estate industry and looking for a way to give your business a boost, consider transitioning from real estate agent to REALTOR®. Both types of professionals hold a real estate license and help clients buy, sell, or rent different types of property. However, REALTORS® have taken extra steps to earn the title of ‘Realtor’. They also gain membership to the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) in the process.

While membership isn’t cheap, becoming a member of the NAR is a career-long investment that will pay dividends. It provides access to membership benefits, a support community, a network of fellow REALTORS®, and various discounts and savings. Members of the organization can also use the REALTOR® trademarks to help increase their credibility and respectability.

If you’re wondering ‘how do I join the National Association of REALTORS®?’, the answer lies with your regional or state-level organization. Real estate agents that join their local Board of REALTORS® (BOR) or Association and become certified REALTORS® gain access to the NAR. But local BORs and Associations provide so much more than just membership to the national organization.

5 Ways Local and State BORs Help Turbocharge Your Career

By joining your local organization, you’ll be gaining access to one of the largest trade organizations in the U.S.—the National Association of REALTORS®. Other benefits include the ability to network with local REALTORS® and staying informed about local regulations affecting the industry. Local organizations often provide training and education resources.

You’ll also be able to improve your relationship with your current customers. Earning the title of ‘REALTOR®’ means you’ve put time and effort into making sure your clients’ best interest is at the heart of what you do.

If you’re not convinced you should join your local BOR or Association yet, here are 5 reasons you should:

1. Your Ticket to the National Association of REALTORS®

The NAR is over 100 years old and is a respected association of professionals within the real estate industry. It’s headquartered in Washington D.C. and has been the largest trade association in the U.S. since the 1970s. It grew to 1 million members in 2004 and boasts over 1.3 million members across the U.S.

Over the years, it has developed into a community that supports and advocates on behalf of REALTORS® across the country. The first step to becoming a member of the national organization is finding your local association of REALTORS®. It may either be called a ‘Board of REALTORS®’ or ‘Association of REALTORS®’.

There are a few key benefits that come along with membership. These benefits can help real estate agents at any stage in their career increase their skills, boost their reputation, and generate more business.

National Association of Realtors Logo | AgentAdvice.com

Benefits of Joining the National Association of REALTORS®

Access to an extensive network of real estate professionals is one of the many perks members can take advantage of. You’ll be able to connect with hundreds of well-respected REALTORS® across the country. This allows you to grow your professional network and learn more about industry best practices.

Joining the NAR also serves as accreditation for individual REALTORS® and their business. To become a REALTOR®, you must pass a test on the NAR’s Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice. This signals to your current and future customers that you have their best interest in mind while on the job.

The reputation boost you gain from joining the NAR can also help you attract more business. Members can use the REALTOR® trademarks to promote their business in marketing materials and online. Achieving that status of REALTOR® creates positive ripple effects for your business. It can help you grow your network, boost your credibility, improve your reputation, and give you the opportunity to bring in new real estate leads. And your local Board of REALTORS® or Association holds your ticket to becoming a REALTOR® and the NAR.

2. Education and Training Resources

Your local Board or Association of REALTORS® also provides access to multiple educational, training, and certification resources.

Most organizations offer training materials for the real estate licensing exam, license renewal resources and discounts, and NAR Code of Ethics prep courses and training. For example, the Austin Board of REALTORS® (ABoR) provides a pre-licensing prep course. The California Association of REALTORS® (CAR) offers members a free license renewal package.

Many local organizations also offer a set of courses to help REALTORS® achieve specific designations and certifications. These may be state-level designations or ones that have been defined by the NAR. Some examples of designations and certifications include:

  • Certified International Property Specialist (CIPS)
  • Accredited Buyer’s Representative® (ABR®)
  • e-PRO Certification
  • Graduate, REALTOR® Institute (GRI)
  • Military Relocation Professional Certification
  • Seniors Real Estate Specialist® (SRES®) Designation

The NAR website has a more comprehensive list of designations and certifications available.

More Education Resources

Some local Associations provide scholarships for high school graduates or community members. For example, the Austin Board of REALTORS® has provided $250,000 in scholarships within the past five years. The Greater Boston Real Estate Board (GBREB) foundation also provides two-year scholarships ranging from $1,000 – $5,000 to help supplement students’ financial aid packages.

Courses from real estate schools like Kaplan and The CE Shop are often recommended by local BORs and Associations. Some directly link to courses from these schools on their website.

If you’re looking for more information about which real estate schools you should consider, AgentAdvice.com provides reviews and feedback directly from fellow real estate agents and  REALTORS®. This includes authentic reviews of Florida, Georgia, Texas, and North Carolina real estate schools (including Kaplan, Real Estate Express, The CE Shop, RealEstateU, and more).

3. Access to Information and Membership benefits

If you’re looking for more than education materials and access to the national organization, don’t worry. Local REALTOR® associations have a lot more to offer in terms of member benefits. They provide REALTORS® with treasure troves of information and resources.

Most Board of REALTORS® or Associations offer members information on local legislation and regulation that impact the real estate industry. They also support REALTORS® by detailing how to access legal help, offering regional MLS resources and tools, providing important forms, and market statistics and reporting.

Many boards offer discounts on real estate software such as leads from the best real estate lead generation companies, the best real estate CRMs, website builders, and even social media stategies. Taking advantage of these discounts can help agents create real estate ads, or flyers they can send out to bring in more buyer leads.

Access to key performance indicators (KPIs) for the local housing market is important data for all real estate professionals to keep an eye on. Many local REALTOR® organizations provide some of this information for free, while other types of reports and interactive dashboards are only available to members.

For example, the Greater Boston Association of REALTORS® has a members-only housing-data dashboard and monthly housing market activity reports only for members. However, their ‘Market Snapshots’ are available to the public.

GBAR Housing Data | AgentAdvice.com

Members can find discounts on things like license renewal, insurance, office supplies, etc through their local organization. The REALTOR® Benefits Program is also offered through the NAR, here’s an at-a-glance overview of what the Fall 2019 program included.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many organizations are also acting as resource hubs for REALTORS®. For example, many organizations have been answering questions from REALTORS® facing challenges because of the pandemic.

4. Connections and Networking

Joining your local BOR or Association of REALTORS® provides you with access to the national network of REALTORS®. More importantly, it connects you with the network of real estate industry professionals in your area. This means you’ll be able to connect with REALTORS® and affiliated businesses and professionals working in the same metro area, city, or county as you. This means you can skip out on having to buy real estate leads if you start to build a referral business in your area.

Developing connections within the industry and creating a strong local network is especially important for newly minted real estate agents. A strong network can help you gain new skills, and learn about leadership opportunities and positions. It also helps you build up your referral base, connect with other local real estate professionals, and maybe even find partners to go into business with. In order to do this successfully, it’s best to also have an easy-to-access real estate lead generation website that you can drop in during conversations or events.

Many local organizations host networking events, awards nights, and live training and webinars on a variety of topics. For instance, The Austin Board of REALTORS® hosts a speaker series each year that brings industry experts to the local Austin, TX community. And the Florida Association of REALTORS® hosts an annual Convention and Trade Expo for all Florida state REALTORS®.

5. Community Advocacy and Support

One last, but equally important, benefit your local REALTORS® organization provides is community support, philanthropy, and political advocacy. Many local BORs and Associations act as a resource for the entire local community. This gives real estate industry professionals a way to get involved in and give back to their community.

For example, the National Association of REALTORS® has a REALTORS® Relief Foundation (RRF) that works to provide disaster relief for U.S. states and territories. Since its founding in 2001, it has donated $32 million in aid directly to disaster victims. In April 2020, the NAR set aside $200,000 of the RRF for victims of the Chattanooga, TN tornadoes. People that were affected by the tornado could apply to use the money to cover mortgage and rent payments.

Many, but not all, local organizations also directly advocate for their members in state and national-level political arenas. For example, the California Association of REALTORS® has a REALTOR® Action Fund (RAF) that advocates for REALTOR® interests and private property rights in state and federal public policy.

Other city and regional organizations may team up with state-level political action funds (PACs) for greater representation. Members of the Austin Board of REALTORS® can donate to the Texas Real Estate Political Action Committee (TREPAC), which supports political candidates that promote the interests of the real estate industry. However, supporting these types of organizations is a choice and not required by your local REALTOR® organizations.

How to Join Your Local BOR or Association

Whether you’re a new or veteran real estate agent, joining your local Board or Association of REALTORS® can be a catalyst for your career. You’ll get connected with fellow real estate industry professionals both locally and nationally and have access to essential resources and education materials. You’ll have multiple member benefits and advocacy resources at your fingertips.

Most importantly, it will start a positive cycle of reputation improvement that can help generate new business and improve your relationship with existing customers.

Wondering where to sign up? The NAR provides a list of state and local Boards and Associations that it is affiliated with.

Many local organizations offer different levels of memberships, such as REALTOR® memberships and Affiliate memberships for non-licensed industry professionals. If you frequently do business with other non-licensed real estate professionals, let them know about the Affiliate membership so they can reap the same member and reputation benefits.

Some local organizations have separate fees for regional MLS subscriptions. For example, here’s the chart of fees for MLS subscription via the Austin Board of REALTORS®:

MLS Subscriptions examples | AgentAdvice.com

Once you know which local organization you plan on joining, consider taking prep courses or using training materials to help prepare for the NAR’s Code of Ethics exam. You can access these through your local Board or Association.

To join your local organization and become a member of the NAR, you must be affiliated with a Broker that has a REALTOR® membership at the local Association. If the real estate firm you’re working with does not have a Broker that holds a membership at an Association of REALTORS®, they will need to acquire membership first.

To recap, here are the steps to take if you’re interested in joining your local organization:

  1. Find your local organization on the NAR’s website.
  2. Check to see if your broker is affiliated with a local BOR or Association (hint: most of the best real estate companies to work for are!)
  3. Apply to become a member of your local organization
  4. Consider taking a Code of Ethics training or prep courses
  5. Take the NAR’s Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice test
  6. Earn the title of REALTOR® and gain access to the local organization

After completing these steps, you can start taking advantage of all the benefits that come with being a REALTOR®.



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Chris Heller Headshot

About the Author

Chris Heller brings 27 years of experience in real estate. Chris serves on the AgentAdvice Editorial Board and is the Chief Real Estate Officer at OJO Labs. Chris brings deep expertise having held influential industry positions including CEO of mellohome and former CEO of Keller Williams Realty International.

Last Updated: 5/20/2024