Let me start by saying that the National Association of Realtors is not the bad guy.
Neither is the Houston Association of Realtors, or anyone else who opposes the proposed dues increase.
Our organizations have the same goals and serve the same members. Elizabeth Mendenhall, John Smaby and Bob Goldberg appear to be headed in the right direction, and we hope that continues. The current lead up to the May 19 vote by the NAR board of directors is merely a healthy discussion about how NAR should handle its finances. It isn’t pitting HAR against NAR.
At a time when the real estate industry is experiencing disruptions at an ever-increasing pace, can NAR afford to continue to fund initiatives of questionable member value it has embraced, such as HouseLogic, Realtor University, AMP, dot Realtor domain, RPR, the Consumer Awareness Program, etc.?
We are faced with new iBuyers that plan to buy and resell $3 billion worth of homes this year, the largest broker in the U.K. bringing its model to the U.S., and Realtors spending close to $1 billion for lead generation. It is now imperative that NAR focus on the Realtor Party and political advocacy that will truly help the members and our clients.
It appears that prior NAR leadership invested $20 million of member money into Second Century Ventures, which stands to generate an estimated windfall of $100 million with the pending DocuSign IPO, but it appears that windfall may not benefit the members. Does this make any sense to anyone?
At the same time, to be so dismissive of the local and state associations seems like the wrong angle to take. All of the state and local members make up NAR’s membership. It seems a bit tone deaf to say, “[They] do not have a vote on this matter.” In a membership-driven organization, you vote the way the members want. Otherwise, the organization ceases to exist.
No one wants that.
When we polled our members, 97.4 percent out of 5,000 respondents were opposed to the dues increase. Our board of directors voted unanimously against the increase as well.
Our main difference at this point is whether we shift money from less successful programs or raise dues — and continue to raise dues annually thereafter.
As HAR has continued to grow, we have rolled out more and more tools and services to our members but have not raised dues in the past 15 years. The fixed costs were able to be spread out over the larger membership, so we didn’t need additional dues revenue to fund all that we do. NAR should be able to do the same.
As we all often say, Realtors are stronger together. It doesn’t mean we have to agree all of the time. What we can agree on is that we want NAR to be strong and successful. NAR’s success is our success. I encourage every Realtor association leader to stand up and be heard on this issue.
Despite comments to the contrary, your vote and voice do matter.
Kenya Burrell-VanWormer is the chair of the board of directors of the Houston Association of Realtors, which is the second largest local Realtor association in the country, with more than 37,000 residential and commercial members.