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NAR dues going up 50 percent for proposed Political Survival Initiative – Breaking News

NAR dues are going up

Today, at the Association Executives Institute being held in Dallas, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) presented to attendees their REALTOR Political Survival Initiative (PSI), which they say is a result of a 2010 Supreme Court ruling that reshaped campaign financing across the nation. The initiative could increase REALTOR dues by $40 if the proposal is passed by the NAR Board of Directors on May 14. According to NAR during their presentation, the move is supported by associations and large brokers.

Because we follow the topic closely, we have been waiting for how NAR would respond to major changes in campaign financing as a result of the January 2010 Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission that overturned much of the McCain-Feingold Act of 2002.

The ruling now allows private corporations and associations to contribute to campaigns outside of the standard contribution method of Political Action Committees (PAC) pointing to private organizations’ right to the First Amendment.

Update: AG poll results are now in, click here to see how members feel about this potential dues increase.

Associations at a disadvantage?

This puts organizations like NAR at a disadvantage up against organizations and private companies that wish to disrupt real estate advocacy not just for homeowners but for practicing Realtors. Traditionally, NAR “grooms REALTOR champions” or politicians who are favorable to the NAR agendas, this initiative allows NAR to do so in all states rather than just select states.

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How NAR dues break down

As part of the PSI, NAR is proposing a 50% increase in dues which would make political advocacy count for more than half of dues for the first time in NAR history. Currently, dues break down as follows, $30 to legislative/regulatory advocacy, $15 to consumer and member relationship building, $10 to state and local association services and support, $6 to economic and tech research, $6 to publications, $5 to commercial/international alliances, $4 to Code of Ethics/legal policy and enforcement, $4 to customer service and product suite, with other services at $0 contribution, totaling $80.

If the PSI is approved, dues will be $120 annually with the only change being to legislative/regulatory advocacy.

Dues levels are reviewed every three years by the Board of Directors with 2011 being a review year, which is likely why there was not an immediate reaction by NAR to the supreme court ruling.

What is NAR’s alternative?

According to NAR program director Liz Giovaniello, at this time, NAR does not see any alternative to the Political Survival Initiative.

The reality of politics is that money talks. For example, now, when an entity sees an advantage in opposing any political initiatives NAR is advocating for, the entity can funnel money into a campaign be it local, state or federal and the back scratching begins. If NAR can’t compete in the same arena, an entity against NAR loses as do its members.

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How a rate hike will help local and state associations

The new rate hike will allow NAR not only to send funds to state and local Realtor associations to help their efforts but can send consultants and manpower to the causes they support.

It is our suspicion that most national level trade associations will be raising dues as corporations and other associations gear up to get into all levels of campaign financing. The floodgates have opened.

Advocacy will now be the best funded value proposition of NAR with $38.8 million of the budget potentially going towards politics. Here is how the budget will break down:

What if the ruling is overturned?

When asked if dues will be reduced by the amount raised if the ruling is overturned, Giovaniello said, “The funds for this initiative are needed NOT ONLY because of the Supreme Court ruling, they are needed in order to help ensure the success of our state and local association advocacy efforts – to help them be as successful as possible. Even of [sic] the ruling had not occurred, we would need to bring our advocacy efforts to a higher level.”

Is it possible that NAR is taking advantage of the ruling to increase their dues? Maybe. We were told that advocacy needed funding despite the ruling, but it seems to us that the $40 increase is necessary if it means protecting the industry.

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This is a very big topic and one that has a lot of moving parts. We invite you to continue learning more about the Political Survival Initiative’s details and history:

Lani is the COO and News Director at The American Genius, has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH, Austin Digital Jobs, Remote Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.



  1. Kevin Tomlinson via Facebook

    March 20, 2011 at 3:50 pm


    • Maureen Kennedy

      April 21, 2011 at 3:43 pm

      Hey, guys, it's not OK for AG staff to comment on AG articles like this. I'm opposed to the hike (because I'm likely going to be opposed to the candidates and positions that will be supported), but also because it think the NAR is setting up an arms race. Actually, I think it's the lobbying firms (and I used to work for one) that are setting up the arms race–because they will profit from all the spending.

      • Lani Rosales

        April 21, 2011 at 4:35 pm

        Readers, we apologize for the confusion of profile pictures on comments defaulting to the AG logo, they no longer do that but it will not allow us to go back in time and change it. This is our first and only comment on this story. Thanks guys!

  2. James Malanowski via Facebook

    March 20, 2011 at 4:18 pm

    Wonderful. I see they decided to follow CAR in the mandatory contribution path.

  3. Fred Romano

    March 20, 2011 at 4:29 pm

    Perfect, I love paying more for stuff that I don’t care about.

    • Matthew Rathbun

      March 21, 2011 at 9:24 am

      Favorite comment all day: “Perfect, I love paying more for stuff that I don’t care about.”

      I don’t know that it’s the right sentiment, but I certainly understand it.

  4. Cindy Allen via Facebook

    March 20, 2011 at 4:31 pm

    That’ll be some of the best $ I spend this year.

  5. Ken Brand

    March 20, 2011 at 6:14 pm

    A Black Swan. I hope not. @Rob Hahn has some powerful what-could-go-wrong thoughts on his 7DS Associates Blog, worth reading.

    This is awesome stuff Lani, thanks for sharing.

  6. Missy Caulk

    March 20, 2011 at 6:17 pm

    Lots of thoughts on this:
    1) NAR has not raised dues in many years, local and state associations have.
    2) The Supreme Court ruling allows for fairness as Unions were able to donate and did in millions of dollars.
    3) It now allows other PAC’s to donate.

    Do I like the increase? No, seriously who likes that?
    Is is necessary to fight for our industry? Probably.

    Personally I wish they would all go away, PAC’s, unions and everyone. I would be happy if only individuals could donate and we could stop this foolish on who has the most toys/money wins. Then the legislature could deal with individuals and not groups.

    I may be back, need to digest this more.

    How much is raised by RPac and RPacII? I always give to RPacII for issues not candidates. What is going to happen to that? Anyone know?

  7. Ralph Bell

    March 20, 2011 at 6:30 pm

    I’m sure the local associations will increase theirs as well. Time will tell. But as members of NAR do we have a vote or any say so in this what so ever?

    • Sig

      March 21, 2011 at 9:54 am

      No we don’t. We never do. The Board’s opinion is like it or lump it or drop out.

  8. BawldGuy

    March 20, 2011 at 6:38 pm

    Each year I edge closer to eschewing the whole Realtor thing. I haven’t checked on what my local board’s rules are re: MLS membership sans board membership. You’d think I’d know, but then that’d indicate something more than apathy on my part. Much of what local/state/national boards have done ‘for’ its members has been ill considered.

    Though NAR gets much credit for various legislative ‘wins’. It’s always been my take that since, generally speaking, much of their advocacy is aimed at what the majority of voters want anyway, politicians follow the votes — duh. I guess when it comes right down to it, NAR has little credibility with me.

  9. John G. Brittle, Jr.

    March 20, 2011 at 6:54 pm

    I have Personally watched Local, State, and Federal agencies and politicians vote for and Pass legislation that harms/costs the Taxpaying Public of this country. Who is the Advocate for all the People of America? Your Local/State elected …officials? Please! Who do you think is in D.C. fighting to keep the Politicians from taking away the Mortgage Interest Deduction? Your mortgage broker or Banker? NO, your closing atty or Insurance agent? NO! It was your Realtor and their PAC! I will pay 200% more NAR dues to keep the Govt from attacking Home Ownership

  10. Guy Lofts

    March 20, 2011 at 11:03 pm

    I am thoroughly disgusted with NAR’s thoughts on increasing fees to use for political gains, which in recent years have been against the well- being of most Americans.
    Missy, You are wrong about the Unions who operate their PACs in the same way as NAR’s. ie donations for political purposes are voluntary and can be sent where ever the contributor requests.
    The way for the contributions to go away is first to undo the terrible Citizens United ruling, which has allowed even foreign companies to contribute anonymously to PACs such as the Chamber of Commerce.
    Then to work on other ways.

    This could well stir a revolt in Wisconsin where we are already facing a very unhappy public.

    • Judy Graff

      March 21, 2011 at 6:45 pm

      “The way for the contributions to go away is first to undo the terrible Citizens United ruling” — I’m with you. Aside from the rise in dues, I really don’t like the idea that elections are going to go to the highest bidder.

  11. Paul Francis

    March 21, 2011 at 4:52 am

    Ok… so I’m a little confused.

    Does this mean our dues are going up to compete with the special interest groups that have ruined this country?

    I would think that with 800,000 members plus… an organization could just send something out telling it’s members not to vote for Dick.

    So much for the concept of a Government for the people I suppose…

    It’s all about the money.

    Sad… Really, Really Sad.

  12. Sig

    March 21, 2011 at 9:50 am

    I am absolutely against it. Not because I don’t think RPAC is a bad idea or because I think our political actions aren’t important. But because I don’t think we should be forced to spend our money on candidates we don’t personally support or on political parties we support or legislation we don’t agree with. RPAC and all of the political action monies should always be voluntary not mandatory.

    What are our options? Do we drop out if we don’t like it? Is that our only solution? NAR could care less what we think. It’s never about the member only about some board members personal political agenda. Well I say fund it out of your own pocket. Not mine.

    • Michele Nixon

      March 21, 2011 at 3:41 pm

      I’m in complete agreement with Sig.

    • Andy

      March 21, 2011 at 8:30 pm

      I’m with Sig. It irks that crap out of me when I see how much money NAR gives to canidates I wouldn’t vote for if they were the only ones running. AL GORE? Really? He’s made millions off of complete crap and many are dumb enough to still believe it.

    • Greg

      April 29, 2011 at 1:27 pm

      I also agree with Sig. It's one thing to raise fees/dues for a service or product. That's OK, we can choose not to purchase it and take our business elsewhere.

      The current monopoly on the MLS "virtually forces" us to be a member. I wonder who will be the first one to create an "MLS" which doesn't require Association Membership?? There needs to be an "Opt-Out", otherwise this is flat out wrong and this is the type of thing which will ultimately cause competition for NAR/MLS.

  13. Stephanie

    March 21, 2011 at 4:07 pm

    This is obviously a hot topic. Hear what Chicago agents have to say about this:

  14. MH for Movoto

    March 21, 2011 at 4:41 pm

    This just doesn’t ring true. Not seeing an alternative, like it’s some sort of desperate, absolute last resort, but then “oh, if we don’t need it we’re gonna do it anyway”??? Am I confused or is this actually what they’re saying?

  15. Kimberly Dotseth

    March 22, 2011 at 3:00 pm

    It’s not about survival at all. It’s about NAR’s demand for additional power at the political table and its desire to spend unlimited dollars of ours for whatever they want, and I for one find it to be disgusting. We need to un-do the Citizens United ruling for one. Then let any NAR member voluntarily contribute to NAR’s political action committees or their new political party. That way members can play along or not. But I tell you, the minute my new mandatory political $40 goes toward something to change a social issue that I personally believe in, even accidentally or by association, I am 100% out and so is everyone in my company. We don’t need NAR at my company. None of my clients ever ask: “Are you a REALTOR?” They get phenomenal service and that will continue. We don’t have to be members in San Diego of any association (local, state, national) to use the MLS, thanks to an anti-trust lawsuit here some years back that ruled that way. Something new to contemplate. Rob Hahn’s blog was brilliant on this topic. Thanks too, Lani!

  16. uy lofts

    March 22, 2011 at 11:29 pm

    Maybe the alternative would be to push back to get the ridiculous law repealed. Wouldn’t that be better for the whole country?

  17. Jolenta Averill

    March 23, 2011 at 8:07 pm

    Just what we need: NAR extorting more $ from its members to buy more influence from short-sighted political candidates.

  18. Joe Loomer

    March 24, 2011 at 6:46 am

    Given the low-flo retro-fit initiative and Mortgage Interest tax deduction abolishment both aren’t law yet, I’m thinking RPAC may have some value. On the other hand, NAR’s participation in giving other people my (tax) money made me kind of sick.

    Navy Chief, Navy Pride

  19. Dan Rowe ABR CRS GRI

    April 21, 2011 at 10:08 am

    I vote NO on dues increases. This is the equivalent of a tax increase, the worst move in a down economy. We Realtors are fighting for our own individual survival. We should not be forced to make political contributions through NAR. I will choose when and where to spend my money in the political arana and without NAR taking a bite out of it for overhead.

  20. Blanche Augustus

    April 22, 2011 at 12:09 pm


  21. Blanche Augustus

    April 22, 2011 at 12:16 pm


  22. Blanche Augustus

    April 22, 2011 at 12:16 pm


  23. Melvin Chambers

    April 25, 2011 at 11:30 pm

    I vote no to the increase I don't like to be forced to pay for a political group or its agenda. If you support any candidate it should always be voluntary not mandatory.

  24. Eva Myers

    May 9, 2011 at 2:53 pm

    NO – NO – NO – Too many other price hikes in day to day life – we do not need this at this time. TOO Much!

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