Association Governance: Your Admin Questions Answered

Update your policy documents to address these often-overlooked topics.

Daniel Doepke is the National Association of REALTORS®’ director of member policy. Contact him at ddoepke@nar.realtor or 312-329-8410.

Q. Do all members of the association have the right to vote?

Short answer: If you’re a REALTOR® member, yes. If you’re a REALTOR®-Associate or Institute Affiliate member, it depends.

All REALTOR® members of an association, whether their membership is primary or secondary, have the right to vote on association matters as outlined in your individual association’s governing documents. NAR’s Board of Choice policy does not allow for associations to prohibit secondary members from voting.

REALTOR®-Associates, student members, Institute Affiliates, and honorary members may have voting rights, but that decision is up to your association’s board of directors. The rights and privileges of affiliate memberships may be explained in your association’s policy manual, but, if not, consider taking the steps to revise your ­manual in order to clarify.

Q. Who qualifies to be an Institute Affiliate member and how much are the dues?

Institute Affiliate membership is available to designees of the following institutes, societies, and councils:

  • CCIM Institute (CCIM)
  • Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM)
  • Counselors of Real Estate (CRE)
  • REALTORS® Land Institute (RLI)
  • Society of Industrial and Office REALTORS®

Of course, members of these organizations can also become REALTOR® members, but, typically, professionals in these specialties find that the costs of obtaining REALTOR® membership outweigh the benefits. Institute Affiliate membership was developed in the early 1970s as a limited, low-cost alternative. Each of these organizations is responsible for collecting and remitting the necessary dues for local association Institute Affiliate membership (currently $105 and split equally between the national, state, and local levels of the REALTOR® organization). For example, if members of the REALTORS® Land Institute want to join your association as Institute Affiliate members, refer them back to the membership department of the REALTORS® Land Institute.

The rights and privileges of Institute Affiliate members are up to each local association, with the exceptions that Institute Affiliates cannot use the term REALTOR®, cannot serve as president of their local REALTOR® association, and cannot participate in the local MLS.

Q. What should I do if we regularly have trouble establishing a meeting quorum?

A quorum, as defined by Robert’s Rules of Order, is “such a number as must be present in order that business can be legally transacted.” Your association bylaws should clearly define what that number is because what constitutes a quorum can vary from association to association. Whether a certain percentage of board membership or a specific number of board members, the guiding principle of a quorum is that it should be a large enough number to be representative of the membership as a whole.

Begin meetings by counting to be sure you have a quorum, and if you don’t, remember that the president (or chair) does not necessarily have to adjourn the meeting immediately. Although no decisions will be binding and no actions can be taken without a quorum, you can often still make progress on business that can be voted on at a later meeting with a quorum present.

It can be difficult to consistently obtain a quorum at meetings. If this is the case, consider more flexible meeting formats such as electronic meetings, proxy voting, or ballot voting. However, be sure to check with your state association to see if these alternatives are admissible under the law.

Visit the Good Sense Governance Guide for more information on a wide variety of association governance topics.

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