The National Association of Realtors is on the cusp of approving its budget proposal for next year, and it includes hiking dues for its 1.3 million members by $30. The increased dues would raise the association’s annual budget by $35.5 million. About $20 million would be dedicated towards additional political advocacy spending and $7.5 million towards zipLogix – a transaction management platform for NAR members.
The association announced the changes, dubbed Strategic Measures Advancing Realtors to Tomorrow (S.M.A.R.T.), after the budget proposal was approved by its budget review and finance committees three weeks ago. The NAR’s board of directors will vote on the proposal on May 19th, at the NAR’s upcoming Realtors Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo.
- NAR’s 2019 budget proposal seeks to increase its dues from $120 to $150
- The budget proposal includes an additional $20M for lobbying, $7.5M for zipLogix, $6M for building maintenance, and $2M for professionalism programs
- The NAR says the hike is necessary amid an onslaught of new technologies and shifting consumer dynamics
NAR’s 800-member board of directors will vote on the 2019 budget proposal when it meets on May 19, at the conclusion of the trade group’s midyear conference. The proposal includes a provision that would allow NAR to increase dues by 2.5 percent every year starting in 2020.
n a statement emailed to Inman, NAR Treasurer Tom Riley said the proposed funding increases and initiatives will have “a tremendous impact” on the trade group’s long-term priorities and ambitions.
“The onslaught of new technologies and shifting consumer dynamics demands that NAR invest in and lead the association, its members and our profession into the future,” he said.
“NAR’s leadership recognizes that there is never a good time to implement a membership dues increase; however, for NAR to continue to respond to the increased levels of service and advocacy that our members demand and also provide the support and tools needed to ensure Realtors and our industry thrive, there requires a continued commitment from the entire Realtor family.”
He encouraged all NAR members to educate themselves on the proposed changes.
NAR invited members to share their feedback through NAR’s social media channels, including its closed Facebook group, or to reach out directly to Realtor leaders and staff on NAR’s password-protected community platform, The Hub.
NAR will hold a Facebook Live event on April 5 at 2 p.m. Central (3 p.m. ET/12 p.m. PT) and a webinar in early May to discuss the budget changes.
$20M more for lobbying – A third of current dues go to NAR’s lobbying arm, the Realtor Party. NAR created the Realtor Party six years ago, the last time the trade group raised dues. The NAR board approved a $40 dues hike in 2011 despite polls showing members overwhelmingly opposed it.
The trade group first floated the idea of another possible dues increase at its annual conference in November 2017. At the time, NAR said it was considering increasing its political advocacy spending by $30 million annually, i.e., $25 per member, to fund 33 new or enhanced Realtor Party programs. The budget review and finance committees did not approve all of the programs, so the proposed budget asks for an additional $17 per member for the Realtor Party instead, NAR spokesperson Sara Wiskerchen said via email.
If approved, the new Realtor Party funds would go toward “new/enhanced activities, issues mobilization, state/local independent expenditures, campaign services, RPAC direct fundraising, consumer advocacy outreach, federal public issues advocacy, and federal independent expenditures,” NAR said in an FAQ posted on its website.
$7.5M more for zipLogix – In November 2015, the NAR board approved a deal to provide its members with transaction management software from tech firm zipLogix at no additional cost to members.
ZipLogix is a joint venture between the National Association of Realtors and California Association of Realtors subsidiary Real Estate Business Services Inc. (REBS). According to zipLogix, REBS owns 57.4 percent of zipLogix and NAR owns 30.2 percent. ZipLogix itself holds 11.6 percent ownership (not owned by any Realtor association or subsidiary) and several other state and local Realtor associations hold the remaining 0.8 percent interest. NAR and zipLogix declined to name the other associations.
Starting in first-quarter 2016, Realtor agents and brokers got free access to the firm’s zipForm Plus software, transaction forms specific to their area, document storage through zipVault, and zipLogix’ transaction management system, zipTMS (formerly known as relay). The deal did not include the broker version of zipForm Plus, zipForm Mobile, zipFormMLSConnect, e-signatures from zipLogix Digital Ink or any other products zipLogix has since launched, such as zipCRM.
$6M more for buildings – NAR also says it needs $6 million for deferred building maintenance and renovations, including upgrades to the electrical, plumbing and mechanical systems, particularly in its Chicago headquarters on 430 N. Michigan Avenue. The building has housed NAR since 1963 and is also the home of the Chicago Association of Realtors. NAR’s Washington D.C. office is newer, completed in 2004.
$2M more for professionalism, wellness and innovation
The proposed dues increase would cover three new programs:
- the Commitment to Excellence program, which would cost $800,000 in 2019
- the Financial Wellness program, which would also cost $800,000 in 2019
- the Strategic Business, Innovation and Technology group, which would cost $400,000 in 2019
The NAR board approved the Commitment to Excellence program in concept in 2016, subject to costs. The program will be voluntary and focus on measuring and increasing professionalism. As part of the program, NAR will invite Realtors to complete a skills assessment measuring their proficiency in areas such as ethics, advocacy, technology, data privacy and customer service. The program then generates individualized recommendations for activities and tools Realtors can use to boost their knowledge and skill.
View the original article at WFG National Title