One of these days, I’ll learn to leave all of the Facebook groups that time-suck and energy-suck me to pieces. That’s a New Year’s resolution for you. But there are some groups that are so valuable and integral to what I do that I’m going to stay loyal to them, even when others aren’t feeling as positive about that organization.

Before I learn how to get myself out of the groups that aren’t providing me with any kind of professional service, I wanted to provide my own personal opinion about why NAR is important to me — and why I disagree with the beginning-of-the-year arguments bashing NAR that have been heard throughout the industry.

1. This is not about MLS access. Just stop that right now. The genie has long been out of the bottle, and the era of agents controlling all data is past. Your job as a Realtor is not to spout off bedrooms and bathrooms, but to provide insight on community and pricing and to provide guidance while navigating the transaction.

So. If a real national MLS were to emerge, I would be completely, 100 percent in favor. More data is good! As long as you’re educated about the market, that is … if you are afraid of data being in the hands of others, then perhaps the problem is not the other portals, it’s you. (If you just became outraged with me, head straight to the comments. Do not pass “go,” and do not collect $200.)

2. This is not about you. Go ahead, call me wrong. But the power of NAR is not one voice. It’s the million-plus of us who band together to protect the property rights of individuals, businesses and investors. The work that NAR does is important to you, absolutely, but — this is bigger than you. Stop venting on Facebook forums about how you’re going to ditch your association membership because you can’t see “what’s in it for me.” Open your eyes and look beyond the next transaction to the industry and the future. You are important, but again: this is not about you. (If you didn’t get enraged enough earlier, now you may pass to the comments.)

3. Why, yes, I did vaccinate my kids. Seem unrelated? Well, I like to think of greater association membership along the lines of vaccination. I vaccinated my kids — and myself as well — because when everyone pitches in to eradicate something (an illness? bad legislation?), it can happen. (And like any mom, I don’t enjoy watching my babies get pricked … but I really wouldn’t enjoy watching my babies catch whooping cough or another almost-eradicated communicable disease that’s making a comeback.)

If I decide that everyone else got vaccinated, so therefore I don’t have to … then I’m expecting others to carry my water for me. That’s not cool. This is also a reason I feel so very strongly about investing in RPAC, the Realtor Political Action Committee. That’s where the real work is done in protecting all of us from harmful legislation. Yet, most Realtors don’t invest in the PAC. They’re benefitting from it, but not sharing the burden. It reminds me of the analogy that Kenny Parcell shares — it’s a big potluck supper where a few of us are bringing the food and everyone else shows up with a fork and knife, ready to eat. (Remaining angry commenters, now’s your turn.)

I get it. You’re being asked to stroke a fairly hefty check here in January, when your own commission checks are fewer and further between than they are in, say, April. (This begs another question: should dues billing be moved to a different date?) It’s never fun to pay for something that has less tangible return than, say, a lovely new pocketbook or fun new gadget. However, if you will take a few moments to educate yourself about industry issues (follow @NAR_Research on Twitter, for one), learning more about the benefits you are provided from local, state and national association membership — or, heck, just ask someone who’s involved — then you may find that you’re being rewarded greatly, above and beyond your expectations. Perhaps you’ll even decide to invest in RPAC of your own volition, or you’ll decide to invest your precious hours in volunteering to serve.

Jump in! We’ll all be better off because of it.

Leigh Brown is a broker/owner at Re/Max Executive Realty

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