Budget Transparency Push at Treasurer’s Forum

capital building illustration

John Blom

Last year, Treasurer’s Budget Forum drew quite the crowd during the REALTORS® Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo. The SMART Budget initiative (including a $35 dues increase) was up for vote at the Board of Director’s meeting, thus, the 2018 The Treasurer's Forum was held in the ballroom of the Marriott Wardman Hotel in Washington, D.C., which seated several thousand attendees.

This year was quite the contrast. The 2019 Treasurer’s Budget Forum was held in a mid-sized conference room that probably seated no more than 150. Although the room was full and there were people standing around the perimeter, without a major (and potentially contention) new initiative to discuss, it was definitely a smaller crowd than last year. That doesn’t mean that the National Association of REALTORS® Treasurer John Flor did not have some important updates for those in attendance.

Here are the three big takeaways that I gathered from the forum:

1. Great progress is being made on the Chicago headquarters building. Linda St. Peter, chair of the Real Property Operations Committee, gave an update on the renovations and expansion of the REALTOR® building. A new “amenities room” is almost complete in the basement, including a fully functioning gym with yoga, meditation, and exercise equipment, and a café. These facilities will be available not only to NAR Staff but other tenants in the building as well. These types of spaces are growing increasingly important for retaining both the quality staff we have, but also the tenants within the building. Much of the HVAC system, one of the major driver’s in the renovation, has been updated. The new system will save NAR significantly on both maintenance and operations cost versus the previous system, that was original with the building. Finally, and most exciting, the steel is starting to go up for what will be the new “sky level” of the building. The extra floor will provide additional rentable space, increasing the value of the building in this prime, Michigan Avenue location.

2. Flor gave an update on some amendments to the 2019 budget. As many know, CEO Bob Goldberg undertook a major reorganization of NAR last year. This naturally had an impact on staffing and expense levels in various departments. But after all was said and done, the revised budget was within $400 of the original budget.

3. Before taking questions, Flor introduced a motion that would amend the NAR policy to allow for greater transparency regarding the NAR budget. The current policy only allows for very limited information to be shared with anyone, including members who don’t serve on the Finance Committee, Executive Committee, or the Board of Directors. The policy, which passed almost unanimously at the subsequent Board of Directors meeting on May 18, allows for additional details of the budget to be shared while still protecting sensitive information.

The forum provided a great insight into the inner-working of NAR and left me (and I think all those in attendance) feeling that the association's finances are in great shape and in capable hands.