NAR hit record membership in 2022, but expects a drop

Realtor count hit 1.6M at year’s end despite cooling housing market

A photo illustration of NAR president Kenny Parcell (Getty, NAR)
A photo illustration of NAR president Kenny Parcell (Getty, NAR)

The ranks of the National Association of Realtors continued to grow last year, but membership may be poised to drop in 2023.

There were slightly more than 1.58 million members of NAR at the end of last year, according to Inman. The figure was a 1.37 percent jump from the previous year, when there were just shy of 1.56 million Realtors in the trade group.

It was the fourth straight year of record membership for NAR. Growth in the organization was not nearly as explosive as it was the previous year — the group grew by more than 21,000 people last year, that’s barely a fifth of the 100,000-person jump seen in 2021.

Florida is the biggest hub of Realtors in the nation, counting 223,000 people among its membership. California, Texas, New York and New Jersey round out the top five states for Realtors.

The state with the biggest rise in Realtor membership was West Virginia, which grew by 5.3 percent year-over-year to more than 3,300 people. The biggest decline came in Nevada, where membership dropped nearly 2.6 percent to more than 20,000 Realtors in the state.

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The prominent real estate trade association may be in for a reduction this year. NAR’s finance committee anticipates membership will drop to 1.43 million in 2022, including a decline of more than 10,000 members by the time May rolls around.

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A cooling housing market could be one reason for a reduction in membership in the coming year: fewer home sales means fewer Realtors able to be part of transactions and make money in the wake of a downturn from interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve, which sent mortgage rates almost double their levels at the beginning of 2022.

“Some real estate professionals do well even in down markets, while others struggle even in hot markets,” NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun said. “Overall, though, reduced sales — like what occurred in 2022 and are forecasted in 2023 — can lead to more shakeouts.”

Meanwhile, some who entered the industry during the pandemic — when the market rapidly heated up and jobs in other industries were more precarious — may have the ability to move to another industry as the economy continues its recovery.

— Holden Walter-Warner