The Chair of the Houston Association of Realtors (HAR) has released a letter to association leaders across the nation following up on a showdown with the National Association of Realtors (NAR) over NAR’s plan to raise dues for all members, including those in her own association, HAR. Below is the letter in full.
Dear association leaders,
As you may have read on Inman, HAR surveyed our membership, which overwhelmingly opposed the proposed NAR dues increases.
I followed up with an op-ed clarifying HAR’s position of supporting NAR’s political advocacy efforts, while maintaining the current dues level. NAR Treasurer Tom Riley then penned a response.
Inman is also in the process of surveying its readers about whether NAR should raise dues, which is located here.
At the time of this email, 83 percent of those responding opposed the $30 dues increase, and 87 percent opposed the annual dues increase of 2.5 percent. Make sure you scroll down and read the comments from Realtors across the country.
While I respect the difficult situation NAR is in, I think true leadership means asking questions and not going along to get along. I believe it also means that you look to the member and think about what is in his or her best interest. Without members, none of us would be where we are.
When HAR polled its members, 97.4 percent out of 6,300 respondents were opposed to the dues increase. We believe HAR members are no different than Realtors across the country.
HAR’s board of directors voted unanimously against the increase as well. We have heard from many across the country that are also opposed to the dues increase, especially in light of the fact that other state and local associations have also raised their dues, some as much as $100 per year.
I wanted to show you HAR’s position and supporting points that led our board of directors to vote unanimously against the proposed dues increases.
- HAR supports the Realtor Party political advocacy
- HAR opposes the proposed $30 dues increase in 2019
- HAR opposes the 2.5 percent annual dues increase starting in 2020
- HAR supports a reallocation of NAR’s financial resources to fund the budget
Second Century Ventures (SCV), a wholly-owned subsidiary of NARBAC (National Association of Realtors Business Activities Corporation), which is a wholly owned subsidiary of the National Association of Realtors, may issue a dividend to NAR for the expressed financial need.
Ultimately, should the money be reinvested or the almost $200 million, less taxes, be returned to NAR (the parent company) to avoid a dues increase?
- Utilize $30 of the $35 per member currently budgeted for the Consumer Awareness Campaign, which we believe a majority of members don’t feel is effective.
- In an effort to put a rumor to bed, HAR is not suggesting RPR be terminated. When launched in 2008, RPR was intended to be self-funded and profitable within four years. Here we are 10 years and $200 million later. Going forward, we propose that RPR’s claimed 150,000 “power users” pay $11 per month, which will cover RPR’s operating expenses. Why should all NAR members pay for a service that only a small minority of them use?
- HAR questions why NAR not only owns an interest in, but subsidizes with member dues, a forms and transaction management product, zipForms, when a significant number of associations, MLSs, brokers and agents provide access or use competing products, such as Instanet (Transaction Desk), dotloop, SkySlope, Form Simplicity and others.
HAR recommends the following amendments:
- Waive the NAR reserves requirement for 2019 to allow leadership time to conduct a comprehensive line-by-line review and analysis of the budget to eliminate low usage and ineffective products and services, for example, HouseLogic, Realtor University, “dot-Realtor” domain and the Consumer Awareness Program.
- Reallocate $30 of the $35 currently paid by members for the Consumer Awareness Campaign to fund the required 2019 budget needs and future budgets.
- Charge the 150,000 RPR “power users” $11 per month to cover RPR’s operating expenses.
- Accept a dividend from SCV in the amount of $39 million (of the roughly $43.8 million received) from the DocuSign IPO to fund the required 2019 budget needs.
If you agree, I ask that you talk to your members and share these points with the NAR directors from your association, so that all sides are considered. I will be standing at the mic on May 19 to share our perspective, which is only intended to open a constructive dialogue about priorities and what members want.
I also encourage you to attend the Treasurer’s Budget Forum when the budget will be presented, and people will be able to make comments. The meeting will be held on Thursday, May 17, 2018, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. in the Marriott Wardman Park Marriott Ballroom on the lobby level.
I would like to end by commending Elizabeth Mendenhall, John Smaby and Bob Goldberg for taking steps to move NAR in the right direction. This situation wasn’t of their making, but they now have to deal with it, along with all of us. We all want them to be successful because NAR’s success is our success. Realtors are stronger together.
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.