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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
Austin tops the list of best places to buy a home
When looking to buy a home, taking the long view is important before making such a huge investment – where are the best places to make that commitment?
Looking at the bigger picture
(REALUOSO.COM) – Let us first express that although we are completely biased about Texas (we’re headquartered here, I personally grew up here), the data is not – Texas is the best. That’s a scientific fact. There’s a running joke in Austin that if there is a list of “best places to [anything],” we’re on it, and the joke causes eye rolls instead of humility (we’re sore winners and sore losers in this town).
That said, SelfStorage.com dug into the data and determined that the top 12 places to buy a home are currently Texas and North Carolina (and Portland, I guess you’re okay too or whatever).
They examined the nerdiest of numbers from the compound annual growth rate in inflation-adjusted GDP to cost premium, affordability, taxes, job growth, and housing availability.
“Buying a house is a big decision and a big commitment,” the company notes. “Although U.S. home prices have risen in the long term, the last decade has shown that path is sometimes full of twists, turns, dizzying heights and steep, abrupt falls. Today, home prices are stabilizing and increasing in most areas of the U.S.”
Average age of houses on the rise, so is it now better or worse to buy new?
With aging housing in America, are first-time buyers better off buying new or existing homes? The average age of a home is rising, as is the price of new housing, so a shift could be upon us.
The average home age is higher than ever
(REALUOSO.COM) – In a survey from the Department of Housing and Urban Development American Housing Survey (AHS), the median age of homes in the United States was 35 years old. In Texas, homes are a bit younger with the median age between 19 – 29 years. The northeast has the oldest homes, with the median age between 50 – 61 years. In 1985, the median age of a home was only 23 years.
With more houses around 40 years old, the National Association of Realtors asserts that homeowners will have to undertake remodeling and renovation projects before selling unless the home is sold as-is, in which case the buyer will be responsible to update their new residence. Even homeowners who aren’t selling will need to consider remodeling for structural and aesthetic reasons.
Prices of new homes on the rise
Newer homes cost more than they used to. The price differential between new homes and older homes has increased from 10 percent traditionally to around 37 percent in 2014. This is due to rising construction costs, scarcity of lots, and a low inventory of new homes that doesn’t meet the demand.
Are Realtors the real loser in the fight between Zillow Group and Move, Inc.?
The last year has been one of dramatic and rapid change in the real estate tech sector, but Realtors are vulnerable, and we’re worried.
Why Realtors are vulnerable to these rapid changes
(REALUOSO.COM) – Corporate warfare demands headlines in every industry, but in the real estate tech sector, a storm has been brewing for years, which in the last year has come to a head. Zillow Group and Move, Inc. (which is owned by News Corp. and operates ListHub, Realtor.com, TopProducer, and other brands) have been competing for a decade now, and the race has appeared to be an aggressive yet polite boxing match. Last year, the gloves came off, and now, they’ve drawn swords and appear to want blood.
Note: We’ll let you decide which company plays which role in the image above.
So how then, does any of this make Realtors the victims of this sword fight? Let’s get everyone up to speed, and then we’ll discuss.
1. Zillow poaches top talent, Move/NAR sues
It all started last year when the gloves came off – Move’s Chief Strategy Officer (who was also Realtor.com’s President), Errol Samuelson jumped ship and joined Zillow on the same day he phoned in his resignation without notice. He left under questionable circumstances, which has led to a lengthy legal battle (wherein Move and NAR have sued Zillow and Samuelson over allegations of breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, and misappropriation of trade secrets), with the most recent motion being for contempt, which a judge granted to Move/NAR after the mysterious “Samuelson Memo” surfaced.
Salt was added to the wound when Move awarded Samuelson’s job to Move veteran, Curt Beardsley, who days after Samuelson left, also defected to Zillow. This too led to a lawsuit, with allegations including breach of contract, violation of corporations code, illegal dumping of stocks, and Move has sought restitution. These charges are extremely serious, but demanded slightly less attention than the ongoing lawsuit against Samuelson.
2. Two major media brands emerge
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