BAM Key Details:

  • Seattle-based Coldwell Banker Danforth has decided not to renew its affiliation with the National Association of Realtors (NAR), starting in 2024, making it the first privately-owned Coldwell Banker franchise in the U.S. to separate from NAR. 
  • In a statement issued on Friday, December 1st, Dave Danforth acknowledged the value NAR has brought to the industry but chose to prioritize agent autonomy. 

Another real estate company has decided to step away from the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR).

Based in Seattle, Coldwell Banker Danforth is independently owned and operated. This means the terms of the Anywhere settlement that gave all company-owned brokerages and affiliated agents the option of leaving NAR and retaining their MLS/lockbox access (where possible) was not a factor (though it might have helped). 

In a statement last Friday, Dave Danforth, designated broker-owner of the franchise, said the company “will not renew its National Association of Realtors (NAR) affiliation beginning in 2024.”

Coldwell Banker Danforth has over 300 agents in five offices across the Puget Sound area in Washington State. And since its agents rely on Northwest MLS, which is also independent of NAR, separating from NAR won’t result in a loss of MLS/lockbox access. 

While acknowledging that NAR “has offered value to the real estate industry,” Danforth framed the decision as one that prioritized agent autonomy. 

This decision underscores our brokerage’s unwavering commitment to agent autonomy and our belief in allowing agents to make choices that best suit their needs and principles.

Dave Danforth

Designated broker-owner of Coldwell Banker Danforth

Another vote of no-confidence?

The statement from Dave Danforth doesn’t mention the commission lawsuits, nor does it reference NAR’s sexual harassment scandal (unlike Redfin’s statement). 

But as NAR deals with the fallout of Sitzer/Burnett and prepares for an appeal—not to mention future trials for other class action commission lawsuits—Danforth may see a clear advantage to a very public separation. 

As copycat lawsuits are being filed across the country, real estate companies affiliated with NAR may be more likely to be named as defendants. And Danforth’s public defense of an agent’s independent choice—whether to join NAR or not—makes it seem less likely that their agents will operate in lockstep with NAR when it comes to commissions or anything else. 

After all, as any real estate agent can tell you, you don’t need the NAR Code of Ethics to be an ethical real estate professional. 

So, while Danforth’s statement doesn’t provide any further explanation for the decision, this is the latest of a growing number of high-profile separations from NAR. 

For the sake of context: 

  • In early October, Redfin CEO Glenn Kelman announced his company’s separation from NAR, citing his disagreement with NAR’s commission structure and NAR’s handling of its own sexual harassment scandal. 
  • Days later, Anywhere and RE/MAX announced the terms of their settlement agreement, which included allowing company-owned brokerages and affiliated agents to end their NAR membership if they chose. 
  • While Anywhere is the parent company of Coldwell Banker (among other major real estate brands), Coldwell Banker Danforth is a franchise not owned by Anywhere itself. 
  • Sitzer/Burnett went to trial in October, and on October 31, the jury issued a verdict for the plaintiffs (Missouri home sellers), awarding them a grand total of $5.36 billion (after tripling). NAR and other defendants are planning to appeal. 
  • Another class action commission lawsuit, Moehrl vs NAR, will likely go to trial in the fourth quarter of 2024. 

Meanwhile, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has given oral arguments in the U.S. Court of Appeals to reopen its case against NAR for violations of antitrust laws. 

With the growing number of no-confidence votes against NAR, real estate professionals across the U.S. are waiting to see what the organization will do to rebuild trust and reestablish itself as a force for good in the industry. 

We look forward to their next move. And we’ll keep you posted.