The trade group plans to use the additional funds to boost its annual spending for political advocacy, a transaction management platform for members and other initiatives by $35.5 million and shore up its reserves.

WASHINGTON — After a short debate, the board of directors of the National Association of Realtors has approved a proposed $30 increase in annual dues for 2019, a 25 percent jump from $120 to $150 per year and an additional $39 million per year for the 1.3 million-member trade group.

The 37,000-member Houston Association of Realtors, which has voiced its opposition to the increase in the weeks leading up to the vote, made a last-ditch attempt to refer the issue back to committee, but that motion failed.

The 800-member NAR board did not vote on proposed subsequent 2.5 percent annual increases starting in 2020. NAR leaders tabled that proposal on Thursday, though it will likely return in the future, according to NAR Treasurer Tom Riley.

Elizabeth Mendenhall

“Raising membership dues is never an easy decision, but funding more initiatives and the association for the future will enable us to better serve our members,” said NAR President Elizabeth Mendenhall in a statement.

The trade group plans to use the additional funds to boost its annual spending by $35.5 million and shore up its reserves.

Of the $30 increase, $17 will go toward increasing the trade organization’s political advocacy spending and the remaining $13 will cover a transaction management platform for members from Realtor-owned zipLogix, building maintenance and renovation, and programs devoted to professionalism, financial wellness and strategic business innovation.

Dues currently stand at $120, however NAR members are also required to pay a $35 assessment annually for the trade group’s advertising campaign, which has been approved through 2019. The last time dues were increased was in 2012, when they shot up $40 to increase spending on political advocacy. At the time, the increase was very unpopular.

More than 80 percent of Inman readers opposed the $30 dues increase and the proposal incited controversy and dissent over the last few weeks leading up to the vote.

Kenya Burrell-VanWormer

At today’s board meeting, HAR chair and NAR director Kenya Burrell-VanWormer made a motion to refer the dues increase proposal back to committee with three recommendations in lieu of the increase:

  • that the $20 million Second Century Ventures dividend to NAR from the DocuSign investment and IPO be transferred into operating expenses
  • that NAR not continue to fund zipLogix as a member benefit, given that some 800,000 members use transaction management platforms from dotloop, Instanet, or Form Simplicity
  • that NAR use $9.2 million from the consumer awareness campaign

NAR director Adrian Arriaga of McAllen, Texas spoke in favor of Burrell-VanWormer’s amendment, noting that his members had asked for the board not to raise dues.

However, three other NAR directors spoke against the amendment. Two of them praised NAR for its presentation of information in the lead-up to the vote, with one saying, “Every single question has been answered to the satisfaction of the members in my region.” The third emphasized that the trade group should make sure to have a “nest egg” for its leaders to use in the future.

The amendment was voted down with 159 in favor and 618 opposed. There was no further discussion and the original proposal was passed with 80 percent of the vote: 623 in favor and 156 opposed.

“We appreciated the opportunity to present our position in the best interest of the 1.3 million members of NAR. We support the actions of the board,” Burrell-VanWormer said in an emailed statement.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated.

Email Andrea V. Brambila.

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