The 1.5 million members of the National Association of Realtors will see a $10 increase in their yearly bill from the trade group next year for its consumer advertising campaign.
The trade group’s special assessment for the ad campaign started as $15 in 1999, went to $20 in 2002, $30 in 2007 and $35 in 2009, remaining unchanged since then.
At NAR’s midyear conference, the Realtors Legislative Meetings, Friday morning, the trade group’s board of directors approved a 29 percent increase to the assessment, to $45, starting in 2023. The board also extended the campaign for another five years, through 2027, rather than the usual three-year renewal.
The assessment is in addition to NAR’s membership dues, which the board voted Friday to keep at $150 for 2023. The trade group expects its membership to dip slightly, to 1.47 million, next year from a projected 1.52 million this year, and to bring in $220.5 million in dues revenue.
Now that the increase has passed, NAR expects the assessment to bring in $66.15 million in revenue next year, have $60.38 million in expenses, and therefore add $5.77 million to the consumer ad campaign’s reserves.
“With escalating media costs paired with emerging media channels, and an increasingly crowded real estate category, the committee feels that increasing the per member assessment $10 is the best way to generate the funds needed,” the Consumer Communications Committee said in its rationale for the change in a packet distributed to the board of directors.
The committee said that media inflation specifically has meant that $1 in 2010 is worth 40 cents today, so the $35 passed in 2009 is worth $14 today.
The NAR board of directors currently has 1,049 members. Votes taken at the meeting indicate that there were about 950 in attendance, though voting is not required. The assessment increase passed with no discussion from the floor, 775 in favor and 87 opposed.
The special assessment is used exclusively for NAR’s consumer ad campaign, which promotes the value of property ownership and the Realtor brand. The association launched its fourth “That’s Who We R” national ad campaign in February with an emphasis on the difference between Realtors and other agents and tech platforms.
A common complaint in the real estate industry is that most consumers don’t know that only members of NAR can call themselves Realtors, though NAR itself has said that its own research shows consumers know the difference.
Still, the advertising campaign’s core message this year is “the Difference is Real” — emphasizing that Realtors work “at a higher standard” than agents who are not Realtors, the trade group said at the time.
At the board meeting Friday, committee chair Justin Knoll told the directors that the campaign was working.
“Eighty-nine percent of consumers are more likely to use a Realtor for their next transaction after viewing the ads,” he said.
“The Realtor brand continues to be the most trusted brand in the real estate category.”
The assessment also covers NAR’s HouseLogic website, fair housing ads, its Good Neighbor Awards, its radio show, and a first-time buyer show on Hulu, according to Knoll.
“With ad spend expected to rise nearly 50 percent over the next several years in a crowded category all competing for the same mindshare, we need to remain competitive with our investment that we have made,” he told directors, while showing a slide with the names of several “new entrants” in the industry, including Compass, Opendoor, Knock, Homie and HomeLight.
The additional $10 will increase the trade group’s media purchasing power to bolster the campaign’s reach and frequency, help NAR expand into new media channels to engage consumers with content, and grow the campaign’s marketing materials for members and associations including video ads, according to the committee.
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