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How much does NAR spend on individual political campaigns?

Ever wonder what candidates and/or offices they hold get what amounts of money via lobbyists for the National Association of Realtors (NAR)? We did, and were rather shocked at how easy it was to get the goods. Score one for transparency, but not by the Association making it obviously accessible on their site’s landing page. No, we actually scored the information by sources designed to keep politicians honest and by that same token, keeps the NAR honest.

Did you know that in this current election cycle the National Association ranks number seven as a political contributor? It’s true that in this current cycle, the NAR has already kicked out a whopping $6.3 million. And folks, that’s nothing in comparision to it’s overall contributions made since 1989 at $83.9 million. And brace yourself… we’ve even given (D-MA) Barney Frank over $72k making NAR a gift from the heavens as his largest contributor. The real estate industry as a whole has loved him long time with a rough total of $763k. Each contribution may sound small, but in the scope that these amounts pertain to a single local campaign, these numbers are significant.

Many people hate the conversation of politics, and wonder what it has to do with real estate, and I can answer that question in a lump sum total, ready for this? The Real Estate industry combined (commercial, residential, and the lot) has contributed over $1.1 trillion dollars since 1989 to political campaign interests.

So, if you’re curious if the Association is currently running against your own personal candidate, here’s how you find out. The information is there if you really really want it, but you may or may not like what you find. We’ve only been using the site for a short time, but we’ve discovered a wealth of information.

Because all real estate is local, we suggest that you go and explore what campaigns NAR is funding and let us know in comments what you discover.

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All data is according to

Benn Rosales is the Founder and CEO of The American Genius (AG), national news network. Before AG, he founded one of the first digital media strategy firms in the nation has received the Statesman Texas Social Media Award and is an Inman Innovator Award winner. He has consulted for numerous startups (both early- and late-stage), and is well known for organizing the digital community through popular offline events. He does not venture into the spotlight often, rather he believes his biggest accomplishments are the talent he recruits and develops, so he gives all credit to those he's empowered.



  1. Eric Hempler

    October 28, 2010 at 4:54 pm

    At the risk of being screamed at by others…why does NAR even need to contribute anything to anyone?

  2. Matt Kelly

    October 28, 2010 at 5:03 pm

    Am I reading the attached site correctly in that from 2009-2010 NAR spent $27,627,000 on lobbying?????

  3. Matt Thomson

    October 28, 2010 at 5:15 pm

    I’m not surprised or upset by this. Should I be? There are TONS of political decisions that are made nationally and even more so locally that greatly affect our bottom line. In WA right now, there are several potential “service taxes” that if passed will take hundreds of dollars out of each transaction. That matters to me.
    In terms of NAR supporting “my candidates,” that’s something that I just take for what it is. NAR (or in my local case WAR and TPCAR) examine and interview each candidate and decide who will make decisions that are most beneficial (or least harmful) to our industry. Then it’s up to me to decide if that candidate has the values, background, and views of other issues that I have.
    Maybe I’m ignorant, but I have no problem with NAR spending money trying to get politicians in office that will help my bottom line. I have a much bigger issue with real estate agents not joining NAR ’cause they can’t invest $500 in their business yet they still reap the benefits of the political success that NAR and their candidates achieve.

    • curiousonlooker

      October 29, 2010 at 6:26 pm

      “Maybe I’m ignorant, but I have no problem with NAR spending money trying to get politicians in office that will help my bottom line.”

      and “I have a much bigger issue with real estate agents not joining NAR ’cause they can’t invest $500 in their business yet they still reap the benefits of the political success that NAR and their candidates achieve.”

      I guess thats whay they call it pimping and hoeing. Where is the ethics behind your logic, Mr. Thomson? Has it ever occured to you that a few will choose to associate where it will make the better impact?

    • Intown Elite

      October 30, 2010 at 4:30 pm

      I’m more concerned with the bottom line of the country as a whole. In the long run, fiscal responsibility will have a much greater positive impact on everyone’s bottom line than the meddling endorsed by NAR and the candidates they support. JMHO.

  4. Matt Thomson

    October 28, 2010 at 5:17 pm

    Another thing that comes into play…how much of that money comes from NAR dues and how much comes from RPAC contributions?

    • Benn Rosales

      October 28, 2010 at 6:08 pm

      Each pac is listed independently, you have to know how they’re listed to get really technical.

      But here is a really cool way to start

      All the big hitters of real estate are listed, including brokerages. No one should be inflamed, this stuff is really flippin interesting! Another way is to go thru each large cycle during the housing crisis to see how money shifted.

      Another really cool area to check out is Virginia, NAR is all up in Virginia this year…

      • Jim Duncan

        October 28, 2010 at 8:15 pm

        You know one thing that’s pretty cool? And I’ll bet surprising for many (most?) – The NAR gave 51% of money this year to Republicans and 49% to Democrats. That’s about as evenly-split as anyone could hope for.

        • Benn Rosales

          October 28, 2010 at 10:32 pm

          It’s actually breaks out differently across the board, in one study I did, it was roughly 45/55 leaning republican. Found several far left leaning brokerages, namely out of California, but yeah, you’re right generally it’s centrist, it’s actually fascinating stuff.

  5. Carole ODell

    October 28, 2010 at 5:21 pm

    Just wish NAR would get out of “contributions” altogether. Let us give our own money, if we choose to do so. We are grown-ups and can judge for ourselves.

  6. Ruthmarie Hicks

    October 28, 2010 at 11:21 pm

    OK – call me an egg headed idealist – its not so much that NAR isn’t doing what everyone else is – its just that this is still a real problem. We the people have little voice if only large special-interests and well -heeled moguls are the primary source of campaign funds. Sorry – it needed to be said . But NAR appears to be hedging its bet. My area of NY is solid blue. They put their money with the likely winners – no surprises there. Well – one big surprise – how much Gillibrand has hauled in. She’s what one might think of as a moderate or slightly blue-dog dem in a very liberal state. But it was very unlikely to break red – no matter what.

  7. BawldGuy

    October 29, 2010 at 1:05 pm

    For those wanting to talk about the benefits of NAR’s political donations, one only needs to assess Barney Frank’s contributions to the ‘success’ of our industry the last several years.

    Benefits? Really? Fool me once…but any real estate group who openly promotes what Frank did in office, re: Fannie Mae, etc., doesn’t exactly impress me with their understanding of economic and financial principles, much less long term consequences.

    How’re those ‘benefits’ workin’ out for ya now? Don’t answer, it’s a rhetorical question. 🙂

    • Al Lorenz

      October 29, 2010 at 2:17 pm

      Why not answer a rhetorical question? Don’t worry, that was a rhetorical question also.


    October 30, 2010 at 2:53 am

    unfortch like it or not, lobbying is a HUGE part of the political landscape. it has ballooned into the monstrosity that drives washington. we aren’t always so in tune with the larger forces at work trying constantly to chip away at realtors.( i know i wasn’t. ) for example, banks have been trying their darnest to step into realtor territory. NAR has been fighting very hard to keep banks out. trade associations like NAR/ CAR exist for a good reason.

    now, i am not saying that NAR is perfect (far from it) and i know that they will not always align with me politically or socially (heck, who the hell does? even my own friends and family don’t align w/ me) but i am ok with contributing….i just chalk it up as a necessary evil.

    • Benn Rosales

      October 30, 2010 at 12:21 pm

      I don’t think anyone disputes that at all, but here’s my take. If NAR’s loby is for the greater good of the many, then it shouldn’t be this damn expensive. It’s stands to reason the same money could have been used to bounce uncooperative ‘bad for the people’ people from office.

      Incumbents are very expensive. 🙂


        November 1, 2010 at 1:55 pm

        true dat! the amount spent is quite exorbitant…

  9. Russell Shaw

    October 30, 2010 at 3:15 am

    GREAT post, Benn! Nice job!

  10. Thomas A B Johnson

    October 31, 2010 at 12:24 pm

    The answer to most questions political can be answered by following the money.

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