Leadership Garners Trust Ahead of Dues Vote

Attendees at the Treasurer’s Forum during the association’s annual legislative meetings said they appreciate the tools and programs the association provides and encouraged the Board of Directors to approve the 2019 budget.

A platform to showcase REALTORS®’ professionalism, expansion of the REALTOR® Party political advocacy program, and a new financial wellness program for members are among the priorities in a 2019 budget proposal that comes up for a vote at the National Association of REALTORS®’ Board of Directors meeting on Saturday, May 19.

The budget proposal—which NAR leaders have dubbed the S.M.A.R.T. Initiatives (Strategic Measures Advancing REALTORS® to Tomorrow)—has been widely vetted since it was approved by NAR’s Budget Review Team in March. NAR Leadership Team members have taken it on the road to 24 associations and industry events and also presented it to nearly 46,000 viewers during an NAR town hall event broadcast live on Facebook.

With vigorous debate about the proposal happening behind the scenes, NAR leaders have kept the budget center stage this week during the REALTORS® Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo in Washington, D.C.

The proposal would increase national dues to $150 per year (from $120) beginning in 2019. Originally, the proposal called for a 2.5 percent annual increase—known as an escalator clause—to begin in 2020 that directors could waive in years when additional funds aren’t needed. But at the Treasurer’s Forum on May 17, Treasurer Tom Riley of Bedford, N.H., said the Executive Committee recommended not bringing the escalator to a vote at the Board of Directors meeting this year.

At the conference’s NAR 360 forum on May 15, NAR President Elizabeth Mendenhall asked directors in the audience to be courageous in their work Saturday. “We lay at your feet this week the decisions of this organization. We give you the chance to make those decisions … to strengthen our position in advocacy, to strengthen our position in professionalism,” Mendenhall, a broker in Columbia, Mo., told thousands of attendees. “We’ve got to be bold, and we’ve got to make big decisions.”

A key element of the financial blueprint for 2019 involves replenishing NAR’s reserves, which have fallen 45 percent since 2015. If the board approves the proposal, it would be the first NAR dues increase in eight years.

“It’s uncomfortable to say we need a dues increase,” Mendenhall said. “It’s not popular; it causes members to ask questions.” She added that NAR leaders “turned over every rock” to find cuts to counterbalance the dues increase.

NAR members in Washington expressed deep gratitude for the tools the association provides, such as zipForms and the Realtors Property Resource®, and encouraged the board to approve the budget. One forum attendee from Connecticut said that since RPR entered her market three weeks ago, the database has helped her land five listings. Another attendee, a director of an association in Maine, said her members couldn't be happier with zipLogix as a member benefit. “I encourage anyone with a vote to vote for this $30 dues increase so we can continue to enjoy the tools that are at the core of our business success,” she said.

REALTOR® Magazine Senior Editor Graham Wood contributed to this report.