As the debate among real estate professionals continues, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) is poised this coming weekend to vote on annual dues increases for its 1.3 million members in 2019 and beyond. In the realm of popular opinion among Inman readers, the verdict is in: More than 4 in 5 respondents to a recent poll of nearly 2,000 readers oppose the proposed increases.
The trade group has proposed hiking its annual dues by 25 percent, from $120 to $150 per year to increase its annual spending for political advocacy, a transaction management platform for members and other initiatives by $35.5 million. To pay for the additional spending, NAR seeks to raise dues by $30 in 2019 with additional built-in increases of 2.5 percent per year beginning in 2020. If approved, these would mark the first NAR dues increases since 2012.
Our poll, conducted in the form of a two-question survey on Inman’s website and distributed via newsletters over a week-long period between May 3 and May 9, found that a vast majority of the 1,991 total Inman reader respondents did not support the increases.
The first proposed hike — NAR’s proposal to raise dues by $30 in 2019— received slightly more support than the other contemplated dues increase: 13.6 percent of readers said they supported it while 82.8 percent said they didn’t.
The trade group’s proposal to raise dues by 2.5 percent every year starting in 2020 got support from 10.8 percent of readers but was rejected by 86.4 percent of readers.
Readers left more than seven dozen comments underneath Inman’s poll explaining their answers. Most slammed the proposed dues increases, demanding NAR instead live within its means, offer a better value proposition or reallocate its current budget resources.
“The first question I have to ask myself is do I feel that I’m getting value for what I pay currently. The answer is a resounding NO! So no, I don’t support any increases in dues. If the value was there, sure, but it is not. The ONLY reason I’m a member is for the MLS, otherwise I would not be a member,” wrote a Florida Realtor broker.
“NAR needs to learn to live within its means. I have proudly served as AE of a local association for almost 38 years. The key to our success is managing the overhead of the business. Something that NAR staff has failed to do for the past 25 years. Nothing like seeing it with your own eyes. Too many ventures that failed and cost the members way too much money!!” wrote a Realtor association executive from Michigan.
Many questioned why they should pay for a transaction management system for all Realtors if they themselves don’t use it.
“Why are we being asked to pay for a transaction management platform for members that we don’t use? Let those that want to use it pay for it,” wrote a Florida Realtor broker.
Some readers said they supported the increases for the future of NAR.
“We as an association need to be able to grow without having money issues. I would like to see the membership continue to grow and keep our benefits that we have fought so hard for over many years and different Congressional changes. Stick together and succeed or split and fail. Most of us waste more than $30 a month in spoiled food in the refrigerator,” wrote a Pennsylvania Realtor broker.
In response to Inman’s polling, NAR provided the following statement:
“It’s important that our members are heard. The months-long, member-led S.M.A.R.T. Budget process has integrated member voices throughout and has been the most open and transparent effort to educate members in NAR’s history. We’ve had multiple forums, presentations and meetings during this time and shared a detailed budget overview for all to consider. From the Finance Committee, to the Budget Review Committee, to the Leadership Team, members have weighed in with their insights and shaped the proposal going before the member-elected Board of Directors this Saturday.”
NAR’s 800-member board of directors will vote on the 2019 budget proposal when it meets on May 19, at the conclusion of the trade group’s midyear conference this week, the Realtors Legislative Meetings and Trade Expo, in Washington, D.C.
Editor’s note: An error introduced in editing inaccurately stated that NAR had not raised dues since 2008. NAR last raised dues in 2012.