A Primer on Secondary Memberships

Clarifying any confusion on secondary memberships.
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I sometimes get questions on secondary member status from Points of Entry staff (POEs) who are confused on the policies, procedures, data fields and more.

The terms “primary” and “secondary,” as they relate to membership status, exist for purposes of dues calculations. Simply put, the primary association is the one through which members (REALTORS® and REALTOR® associates) pay their national dues. Members pay National Association of REALTORS® dues only once, and it’s through their primary association.

When licensees join as a member, their choice of primary association depends on the association(s) their Designated REALTOR® belongs to. If the DR is a member of “Happy Board” and “Smile Board” (it doesn’t matter which is the DR’s primary and which is secondary for this purpose), licensees affiliated with the DR can choose either board as their primary. When a DR belongs to only one board, all licensees affiliated with that DR must make that their primary board.

Once they join, they can then join any state or local association(s) as secondary, whether or not their DR is a member. If they wish to join “Cloudy Board” as a secondary member and their DR is not a member of Cloudy Board, it does not matter. They can join Cloudy Board.

Remember that the rule is “one person, one member ID, one member record.”

However, licensees cannot have a secondary REALTOR® or REALTOR-ASSOCIATE® membership unless they are a REALTOR® or REALTOR-ASSOCIATE® member at their primary association. For example, someone who holds local affiliate membership at a primary association can’t join a secondary association as a REALTOR®. NAR does not read secondary records, as these members do not pay national dues at the secondary association. NAR also does not count members twice; if they are a REALTOR® or REALTOR-ASSOCIATE®, that must be the “member type” in their primary record.

At the local level, your member is your member is your member. So, REALTOR® members of your board, whether primary or secondary, are treated the same. They pay the same local dues, enjoy the same board voting privileges, and have the same rights, privileges, duties and obligations. In other words, “secondary member” does not mean “second class.”

However, no one can hold secondary membership unless they are marked “active” at their primary association. So, if the member’s primary association drops them, REALTORS® M1 automatically changes any active secondary records to inactive. POEs are notified via Daily Changes and can certainly reach out to these members.

Institute Affiliate members cannot have any secondary memberships.

What are the rules when members want to join my association as secondary but their primary association is in another state?

Normally, that REALTOR® or REALTOR® associate can choose to join just a local, just a state or both as a secondary member.

There is one exception to this rule, and it applies if the member is affiliated with a real estate brokerage in your state that is separate and apart from the real estate brokerage in the state where primary membership is established. In these narrow situations, the member must join both your local and state as secondary.

How else can we use secondary records?

Secondary records in M1 can be used to track more than just secondary association membership, and some new fields have been added to the record.

  • You can add a secondary record to note when a primary member of your association has more than one license. For example, a member might hold both a real estate and appraiser license—or both a broker and an agent license.
  • A secondary record can be used to denote an additional subclass (subcategories customized by the state or local association) or member type (categories spelled out in the NAR constitution).
  • The Arbitration/Ethics Pending field can be used in the secondary record to indicate if there is an ethics issue pending.
  • The Local Join Date field in a secondary record indicates the date members joined your association as a secondary member. If you use the NAR e-commerce invoicing module, the “Pay Dues” function reads this record and the join date to determine the proration, if any, of their secondary dues.

We also have plans for a Dues Waived field so that if local POEs need to waive local dues for a secondary member (or if state POEs need to waive the secondary state dues), they will be able to do so in the invoicing module.

You can add as many secondary records for an individual member as you like, as long as the data is unique.

What else should we know?

It’s important to note that on the secondary level, POEs are “on their own.” Individual local and state POEs add and maintain their own secondary records.

  • Remember to change the status to “inactive” anytime secondary members drop their membership in your board.
  • Do not transfer members into your association as primary status without the member’s agreement.
  • Remember that the rule is “one person, one member ID, one member record.” M1 is the database of record for all official processes, from NAR director entitlement and dues calculations to delegate vote certification, to reporting of PAC contributions to the Federal Election Commission, and on and on. M1 should always be the source of truth and should never have more than one member record for the same person.

Questions? Contact NAR’s policy group at NARPolicyQuestions@nar.realtor.



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