NAR dues are going up
Today, at the Association Executives Institute being held in Dallas, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) presented to attendees their REALTOR Political Survival Initiative (PSI), which they say is a result of a 2010 Supreme Court ruling that reshaped campaign financing across the nation. The initiative could increase REALTOR dues by $40 if the proposal is passed by the NAR Board of Directors on May 14. According to NAR during their presentation, the move is supported by associations and large brokers.
Because we follow the topic closely, we have been waiting for how NAR would respond to major changes in campaign financing as a result of the January 2010 Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission that overturned much of the McCain-Feingold Act of 2002.
The ruling now allows private corporations and associations to contribute to campaigns outside of the standard contribution method of Political Action Committees (PAC) pointing to private organizations’ right to the First Amendment.
Associations at a disadvantage?
This puts organizations like NAR at a disadvantage up against organizations and private companies that wish to disrupt real estate advocacy not just for homeowners but for practicing Realtors. Traditionally, NAR “grooms REALTOR champions” or politicians who are favorable to the NAR agendas, this initiative allows NAR to do so in all states rather than just select states.
How NAR dues break down
As part of the PSI, NAR is proposing a 50% increase in dues which would make political advocacy count for more than half of dues for the first time in NAR history. Currently, dues break down as follows, $30 to legislative/regulatory advocacy, $15 to consumer and member relationship building, $10 to state and local association services and support, $6 to economic and tech research, $6 to publications, $5 to commercial/international alliances, $4 to Code of Ethics/legal policy and enforcement, $4 to customer service and product suite, with other services at $0 contribution, totaling $80.
If the PSI is approved, dues will be $120 annually with the only change being to legislative/regulatory advocacy.
Dues levels are reviewed every three years by the Board of Directors with 2011 being a review year, which is likely why there was not an immediate reaction by NAR to the supreme court ruling.
What is NAR’s alternative?
According to NAR program director Liz Giovaniello, at this time, NAR does not see any alternative to the Political Survival Initiative.
The reality of politics is that money talks. For example, now, when an entity sees an advantage in opposing any political initiatives NAR is advocating for, the entity can funnel money into a campaign be it local, state or federal and the back scratching begins. If NAR can’t compete in the same arena, an entity against NAR loses as do its members.
How a rate hike will help local and state associations
The new rate hike will allow NAR not only to send funds to state and local Realtor associations to help their efforts but can send consultants and manpower to the causes they support.
It is our suspicion that most national level trade associations will be raising dues as corporations and other associations gear up to get into all levels of campaign financing. The floodgates have opened.
Advocacy will now be the best funded value proposition of NAR with $38.8 million of the budget potentially going towards politics. Here is how the budget will break down:
What if the ruling is overturned?
When asked if dues will be reduced by the amount raised if the ruling is overturned, Giovaniello said, “The funds for this initiative are needed NOT ONLY because of the Supreme Court ruling, they are needed in order to help ensure the success of our state and local association advocacy efforts – to help them be as successful as possible. Even of [sic] the ruling had not occurred, we would need to bring our advocacy efforts to a higher level.”
Is it possible that NAR is taking advantage of the ruling to increase their dues? Maybe. We were told that advocacy needed funding despite the ruling, but it seems to us that the $40 increase is necessary if it means protecting the industry.
This is a very big topic and one that has a lot of moving parts. We invite you to continue learning more about the Political Survival Initiative’s details and history: