Real Estate Almanac

Organized Real Estate

The Organized Real Estate section ranks the US’s MLSs, local Realtor associations and state Realtor associations by membership as of December 31, 2022
Organized Real Estate Sections

The following categories of organized real estate sections are ranked by year-end 2022 membership count: MLSs, Local Realtor associations and state Realtor associations. Access each ranking by selecting the icons to the right.

Organized Real Estate

Realtor associations, with MLSs, are collectively referred to as organized real estate, which represents the infrastructure upon which the residential real estate brokerage industry functions. These organizations play a major role in setting industry professionalism; they advocate at the national, state and local level for homeownership and major issues that support their members’ business and manage local MLSs, which enable the buying and selling of houses, apartments and other real estate.

This section first presents membership data and other information for all of the nation’s MLS organizations, local Realtor associations, and 51 state Realtor associations with data as of December 31, 2022.  In addition to national rankings, MLSs and local Realtor associations are ranked by the nine “divisions” defined by the U.S. Census Bureau: New England, Middle Atlantic, East North Central, West North Central, South Atlantic, East South Central, West South Central, Mountain and Pacific.

The T3 Data team follows a rigorous methodology to source, verify and present the data presented in this and other Real Estate Almanac sections. Learn more about the methodology of this section here.

Multiple Listing Services

Multiple listing services (MLSs), often owned and administered one or more local Realtor associations (a few are owned by brokerage collectives), serve as the residential real estate listing data hub and marketplace in markets throughout the U.S. They also facilitate the terms of cooperation brokers abide by when representing real estate buyers and sellers in the market. MLSs essentially serve as cooperatives, the result of brokerages coming together to collaborate on marketing and selling each other’s listings. They are anchored by a technology platform, often provided by a third-party software provider.

The nation’s 522 MLSs come in two primary types:

  • Regional MLSs: owned by two or more Realtor associations or serve regional markets. At year-end 2022, there were 108 regional MLSs.
  • Local MLSs:  owned by a single local Realtor association and serve just a local market. At year-end 2022, there were 414 local MLSs.

The nation’s large regional MLSs have huge footprints, sophisticated technology, innovative business practices and well-run management structures. The largest MLSs serve members across a broad geographic area, sometimes statewide or even across multiple states. These include California Regional MLS (108,000 subscribers), Bright MLS (104,373 subscribers) and Florida-based Stellar MLS (80,625 subscribers). On the other side of the spectrum are small local MLSs. These organizations, which do not have as many resources, have memberships measuring in just the hundreds. Approximately 45 percent of the nation’s 556 MLSs have under 400 subscribers.

Since the early 1990s, the MLS industry has seen the large get larger as the small get smaller. This has continued in the last several years. For example, the number of MLSs has shrunk 7.6% to 522 and the average MLS subscriber count has grown 29.7% to 3,679 from year-end 2019 to year-end 2022.

View MLSs ranked nationally via the icon to the right.

Local Realtor Associations

As trade associations, Realtor associations are nonprofits owned by their members. They represent their members and aim to help them improve the quality of service they provide, their education and professional standards. The classic Realtor association mission is simple: to make members more profitable and more successful. Many also own and run a multiple listing service, either as the sole owner in the case of a Local MLS or as part of a group of other stakeholders in a Regional MLS.

Realtor associations come in three varieties, determined by geographic scope: national, state and local. Realtor associations have a federated makeup led by the National Association of Realtors: members cannot join just one. When agents join a local association, to gain access to the MLS, for example, they automatically join the state association in which the local is headquartered and NAR; the memberships are tied together in what is known as the three-way agreement.

The largest local Realtor associations have tens of thousands of members, and subsequently, healthy revenues that allow them to offer quality products and services to members and to play a large and meaningful role in their communities. Examples include the Miami Association of Realtors (over 55,000 members), the Houston Association of Realtors (over 45,000 members) and Broward, Palm Beaches and St. Lucie Realtors (over 37,000 members).

On the other end of the size spectrum lie small local Realtor associations, which, because of relatively small revenues and resources, can sometimes struggle to offer a core set of services to members and struggle for relevancy. The industry has a large number of these smaller associations. Just under a third of the nation’s local Realtor associations (32% or 330 local associations) have less than 200 members.

Some local associations are consolidating but not many. From year-end 2021 to year-end 2022, the number of local Realtor associations dropped 0.9%. But they are getting larger. Over that same time period, the average member count grew 3.3%.

View local Realtor associations ranked nationally via the icon to the right.

State Realtor Associations

State Realtor associations are the middle-tier between local Realtor associations and NAR in the federated, three-way Realtor structure explained in the section above.

State Realtor associations serve as the legislative and regulatory voices for real estate at the state level where many licensure laws and tax structures are established. Many provide essential services like education or benefits such as forms for members and local associations.

State Associations are also responsible for the annual core standards certification passed down from the National Association of Realtors with minimum service and organizational requirements that local associations must maintain to be chartered by NAR.

View the state Realtor associations ranked by year-end 2022 membership by clicking on the icon to the right.