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California Association of Realtors (C.A.R.): Who Are They & What Do They Do?

By Arvin Sahakian · Oct 14, 2015 · Real Estate

California Association of Realtors (C.A.R.): Who Are They & What Do They Do?

Image courtesy of Google Images, Svgalbertian

The California Association of Realtors (C.A.R.) is one of the oldest real estate agent associations in the U.S. Learn about their history, what they offer their members and the public and see data with charts about membership and licensees.

Not long after the first real estate companies were established in the United States during the late 1800's, around the time of the industrial revolution, real estate associations started forming throughout this nation.

One of the oldest real estate member associations was the California Association of Realtors (C.A.R.). They could be considered pioneers for advocating that standardized testing become mandatory to become an agent. They also pushed for the passage of some of the first real estate laws and formation of guidelines regarding real estate business ethics and practices that soon became a model for all other states.

In this article, we will discuss what the California Association of Realtors is, learn about their history, what they offer to their member and to the general public and review data and charts regarding the rise and fall of their membership and over all real estate licensees.

What is the California Association of Realtors?

The California Association of Realtors® (C.A.R.) mission statement says that they are dedicated to helping licensed California Realtors succeed in the real estate business and in advancing their professionalism. In addition, they serve their members by developing and promoting programs and services that enable members to conduct their businesses successfully with integrity and competency. The C.A.R. also promotes real property ownership and the preservation of real property rights.

The History of the California Association of Realtors

The California Association of Realtors® was founded in Los Angeles on May 27, 1905, and was originally known as the California State Realty Federation. Seventy real estate agents were part of the original organization which was created to remove perceptions of misconduct in the real estate business. At its founding, the Association consisted of nine Boards of REALTORS® and was led by President Francis F. Ferrier of Berkeley.

Membership growth was slow in the early years of the organization; however, C.A.R. was still successful in fulfilling its mission. In 1917, the Association successfully sponsored a real estate license law after many failed attempts. The law was declared unconstitutional, but the California legislature passed a revised act in 1919 making it the first real estate license law in the United States. California's law became the model and standard for similar laws adopted by many other states. C.A.R. also pushed for written examinations for licensed realtors which was adopted in 1923.

Since its founding in 1905, the organization has undergone two name changes. The Association changed its name to the California Real Estate Association in October 1920, and then adopted its current name - California Association of Realtors® (C.A.R.) - in January 1975.

While C.A.R. focused on establishing laws and standards to govern the real estate industry in its early years, more recently it has focused on the development and distribution of products, programs and services to help its members achieve success in their individual real estate businesses. Yet, it still emphasizes professionalism of licensed Realtors.

The Profile of a Typical California Realtor

The following table, sourced from the C.A.R. 2013 Member Profile Survey report, displays the results from a survey taken from California Realtors regarding typical Realtor demographic information.

Demographics of a Typical California Realtor

According to this survey, the majority of feedback suggests that the typical California Realtor is a U.S. born, married white female, age 40 - 60+ with at least a Bachelor's Degree, working full-time as a real estate agent and is a homeowner.

How Many Members Does the California Association of Realtors Have?

Membership was higher before the housing bubble burst in late 2007. At that time, C.A.R had 203,574 members. The Association reported in October 2013 that membership had dropped 23 percent to 156,157 members.

Today, the California Association of Realtors® includes more than 100 local member Associations and more than 170,000 REALTORS®, REALTOR®-Associates and affiliate members, as of May 1, 2015.

California Real Estate Licensee Chart and Data

The downward trend in C.A.R. membership mirrored the decline in overall California real estate licensees. In the years following the housing market collapse in late 2007, more than 135,000 licensees in California either allowed their licenses to expire or had them revoked.

Data from the California Bureau of Real Estate (CalBRE) shows that the total number of licensees reached its peak of 549,244 in November of 2007. The chart below visualizes the data and trends from February 1999 to February 2015. Although there has been a decline in total licensees from the peak in 2007, the current levels are still higher than in the year 2004 and preceding years.

California Real Estate Licensees From 2011 - 2014

What Does the California Association of Realtors Offer Members?

C.A.R. offers many products and services to its members such as the following:

1. Legal Support

The Association provides its members with extensive legal support that includes the following services and resources.

Product/Service Description
Legal Services C.A.R. employs a team of attorneys who are experts in the field of real estate law. They track developments in real estate law and share them with the membership.
Legal Section of The Association's website includes real estate law updates, disclosure charters and legal articles written by C.A.R. attorneys.
C.A.R. Member Legal Hotline The Legal Hotline representatives answer real estate transaction questions. Since the hotline is not open 24/7, answers to most legal questions can found on the Q&A section of C.A.R.'s website.
Legal Action Fund C.A.R. maintains a Legal Action Fund to defend the real estate profession in the appellate courts. Through its Fund, C.A.R. has contributed to favorable decisions in several cases in which the Association filed amicus curiae (friend of the court) briefs.
Realegal® Legal Updates Members who have email addresses on file with the C.A.R. receive a free email newsletter containing breaking legal information and legal prevention tips.

2. Community Support

The California Association of Realtors has established programs to supports its members and their communities in times of need.

Product/Service Description
REALTORS® Care Through this program, Realtors volunteer their time to support numerous charities and worthy causes.
C.A.R. Disaster Relief Fund The Association established the C.A.R. Disaster Relief Fund following the devastating 2003 California wildfires. The fund provides grants of $1,000 to $10,000 to association members and C.A.R. staff affected by natural and other types of disasters.

3. Public Relations

In keeping with its early mission, C.A.R. has a public relations and communications strategy featuring the following to address perceptions about the California housing market and the real estate profession.

Product/Service Description
Media Relations C.A.R. has a media relations division that develops news releases, media interviews, and news conferences to communicate information about California's housing market and economy.
Consumer Advertising Campaign In 2014, the Association launched its advertising campaign, " California REALTORS® Champions of Home." The campaign promoted the message that a REALTOR® is a Californian's best resource when buying or selling a home.
California Living Network™ California's largest online directory of homes for sale includes information about almost every home listed for sale in the state.
California Real Estate Magazine This exclusive membership publication features industry trend news, business ideas, and solutions to common problems faced by real estate professionals.

What Does the California Association of Realtors Offer Home Buyers and Sellers?

Home buyers and sellers are the foundation of the residential real estate business, so C.A.R. is focused on offering them value-added services, such as the following:

Product/Service Description
Education Through its website and member expertise, the Association offers home buying and selling advice and resources to consumers. Topics range from the benefit of homeownership to the processes for buying and selling homes.
C.A.R. Scholarship & Education Foundations The C.A.R. Scholarship Fund was established in 1948 and awards scholarships of $2,000 to $4,000 to students who are enrolled in California colleges and universities who are seeking a career related to real estate.
Home Searches C.A.R. realtors help homebuyers find homes in their desired locations and price. For potential homebuyers who are not ready to work with a real estate agent, the Association's California Living Network™ allows them to browse homes online.
Home Listing C.A.R.'s licensed Realtors are a valuable resource for home sellers, using tools to help sellers determine the value of their homes and set a price. Realtors also help make a home more marketable, can recommend exterior and interior improvements that increase value and also help with "staging" the home. Finally, Realtors market the homes through online listing and homes magazines.
Financing & Transaction Support C.A.R. members have the expertise to help homebuyers, especially first-timers, explore financing options. Realtors representing both buyers and sellers assist them through the entire process from negotiating the sales contract to settlement on closing day.

The California Association of Realtors Were Pioneers

During its early days, the C.A.R. did a lot to make real estate transactions safe and dependable at a time in our history where few real estate practice and consumer protection laws existed. They also did a great deal to set standards, push for the passage of laws, examination requirements, codes of conduct and overall ethical practices of real estate agents to ensure their clients walked away with a good overall feeling about members of the association and the real estate business in general.

These early accomplishments of the California Association of Realtors essentially paved the way for all other States in the U.S. to use as a model and standard for similar laws adopted in their own respective States.

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