Daniel J. “Dan” Wagner, president-elect of the Illinois Realtors, resigned suddenly this week, less than two months before he was to take the reins as president of the nearly 50,000-member state association on October 4.
In a blog post on its website, Illinois Realtors said Wagner had cited “the need to spend more time with family and focus on his job” in his resignation letter on Monday. Wagner is senior vice president for government relations for the Inland Real Estate Group of Companies, a commercial real estate firm based in Oak Brook, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. He served as the treasurer of Illinois Realtors last year.
“Being involved on many levels with the Realtors has placed a burden on me that makes it difficult to find enough time for my family and my job. Accordingly, my wife and I have been taking a hard look at our lives, our choices, our family needs and my obligations as a father and husband,” Wagner said in the letter.
“While working out my calendar there were far too many soccer, golf, choir and cross country events and family time that I would be missing. Clearly, I knew when I started on this leadership path that the time commitment was there, but until I actually got to this place in time, I didn’t realize how much I would be absent from my family and employer.”
In a phone interview with Inman, Wagner said “it was a very hard decision” to resign, but that he was doing what he thought best for his family, which includes a set of 16-year-old triplets (one of whom has moderate-to-severe autism), a 15-year-old, and his wife, Lisa Wagner, who owns a successful political and nonprofit fundraising business with five employees.
“I was basically going to miss the kids’ sophomore and junior year,” Wagner said. “I look at the kids and you don’t get that time back. I’ve got 36 more months and they go to college.”
He described going through his and his family’s schedules for the year this past weekend as a moment of “metanoia,” a change in one’s way of life due to spiritual conversion. “God got a big bucket of cold water and threw it on me this weekend,” he said.
Nothing to do with audit, Chicago association says
Wagner was the Chicago Association of Realtors’ 2013-2014 treasurer, its 2014-2015 president-elect, and its 2015-2016 president. He was on the trade group’s board of directors in August 2012 when former C.A.R. President Bob Floss was removed from his position allegedly because he “asked to see all the finances” regarding the trade group’s expenses, operating costs (including executive salaries) and owned entities — allegations which C.A.R. disputed.
Asked whether his resignation had something to do with a financial audit currently going on at C.A.R., Wagner said, “No, the Chicago association’s run well. I haven’t been a part of the Chicago leadership for a couple years.”
In a statement, Chicago Association of Realtors CEO, Michelle Mills Clement acknowledged the trade group was in the midst of its annual audit for the fiscal year 2018, which runs from Oct. 1, 2017 – to Sep. 31, 2018. She said the association was not conducting a forensic audit or any other type of audit.
“We do an audit every year by an outside firm. The past five years of audited financial information is available to our members on ChicagoREALTOR.com,” she said.
“Dan Wagner’s resignation from the Illinois Realtors is in no way related to any audit we are conducting at C.A.R. Any statements asserting otherwise are false,” she added.
C.A.R. chose Wagner as its Realtor of the Year in 2017, citing his personal and professional advocacy.
Illinois Realtors CEO Gary Clayton and current Illinois Realtors President Matt Difanis told Inman in phone interviews that they were not aware of any link between Wagner’s resignation and the audit. “I consider it … rumors, until such time as there’s something substantive, if there is something substantive,” Clayton said, adding that the association did not ask Wagner to resign.
Clayton said he didn’t have an estimate for how many hours the state association’s president typically works weekly, but noted that he travels for work about 140 nights a year and he is often accompanied by the president — and that’s not counting the many in-state activities the president participates in.
Difanis, the current holder of the position, said, “It is a challenge and a difficult juggling act and [Wagner] has twice as many kids as I do.”
They could only remember such a sudden resignation of an officer happening once before, decades ago, for health reasons.
“We do have a philosophy: family first, your job second, and your volunteer role third. So in that capacity [Wagner] made a decision that was best for him and his family and we certainly respect that,” Clayton said.
The Illinois Realtors’ president is the head of its leadership team, serves as the spokesperson for the organization and chairs its 28-member board of directors.
Wagner attended the National Association of Realtors’ Leadership Summit last week in Chicago, which is available exclusively to incoming state and local association presidents and their respective CEOs. Therefore, whomever comes in to replace Wagner as president will have missed that opportunity.
“Dan resigned for family reasons and it’s not really my place to second-guess the timing of it or to think, ‘Well, gosh, if he had done it sooner or later or some other timeframe. It is what it is,'” Difanis said.
“Under different circumstances, would we have sent a different successor if we had known that somebody else was going to be potentially become president or that there was going to be this vacancy? Certainly potentially we would have, but there is absolutely no concern that we are going to be in any way disadvantaged as a result of that.”
The trade group’s executive committee is in the process of working through “a handful of different possible scenarios” for how they will handle Wagner’s departure, according to Difanis.
“We’ve got three other members of that executive committee that are already in place to serve for next year, so no matter what we know the organization’s leadership is going to be fine. We don’t yet know specifically who is going to be serving in what capacity. We will probably know that by probably early next week,” he said.
In resigning from Illinois Realtors, Wagner also resigned from his position as a member of NAR’s board of directors, which was automatically conferred to him as president-elect. He also resigned from the 2018 RPAC Trustees Federal Disbursement Committee.
What does this mean for Wagner’s previously uninterrupted climb up the Realtor leadership ranks? “I am off the leadership track,” Wagner said. He doesn’t think he’ll return to serve on association committees or run for election again.
“At this time I don’t believe that will be the path for me. It’s important for new blood to come into those positions,” he said.
“It’s so important to bring people through the channels and there are a bunch of folks who are interested in the leadership of the Illinois Realtors that are phenomenal. They need to be the next generation.”