NAR Realtor Party Political Survival Initiative - A Penny For Your Thoughts.

Real Estate Agent with 1st Action Real Estate

It's entirely probable you've heard about the new NAR Realtor® Party Political Survival Initiative introduced at the AE Institute this past Sunday. While NAR has not made a broad announcement of the program yet, our AE's are returning from their meetings this week with information on the initiative and word has been getting out from Inman, from the blogs, and of course on itself.

According to NAR, the initiative was launched partially in response to last years Supreme Court decision, the celebrated Citizens United Case. As forecast, that decision stands as a game changer in the lobbying world granting corporations the same rights as individuals to contribute to political campaigns. The price of doing business has just gone up and if you want to stay at the table with the serious players, you'd better step up your game.

That's what NAR is proposing by instituting a mandatory $40 dues increase effective 2012. The issue will be voted on at NAR's Mid-Year Legislative meetings in May. 

The following is a post by NAR stating their reasons for launching the initiative. I would encourage you to read it. I have also included the slide show presented to our AE's in Dallas this past Sunday. I have no doubt this will be hotly debated as we approach our May meetings and I encourage you to make you opinions knows to me, to your local associations as well as your state and NAR Directors. Make sure to note that 2/3 of the funds raised will be channeled back to your state and local associations for local purposes. 

Why did NAR create the REALTOR® Party Political Survival Initiative?
•  In January of 2010, the Supreme Court ruled in the case of Citizens United vs. the Federal Election Commission.
•  The ruling states that corporate dollars—so-called soft dollars—can be used to fund independent expenditure campaigns.
•  This not only changes the way elections are financed at the national level, but it also overturns restrictions that allowed only hard dollars—those funds contributed for political purposes by individuals, rather than corporations—to be used in 23 states.
•  This means political fundraising as we have known it for the past 100 years just shifted dramatically.
•  Corporate funds/dues can now be used to shape opinions about candidates in ALL 50 states.
•  It is a game changer of gigantic proportions.
•  It is as if the goal posts on a 100 yard football field were expanded to now cover 140 yards.
•  In order for “The Voice for Real Estate” to have the impact it has had for the past 100 years in terms of political advocacy, the REALTOR® organization is stepping up its game.
•  No one has spoken with more power or as passionately about protecting private property rights and fighting for opening the door to the American Dream of Home Ownership than the REALTOR® Family.
•  To maintain and grow our political power in this new landscape, NAR launched the REALTOR® Party Political Survival Initiative.
•  The REALTOR® Party Political Survival Initiative did not just happen overnight.
•  It was the result of nearly a year of careful study and consideration.

What does the REALTOR® Party Political Survival Initiative mean for members?
•  The proposal is for a dedicated dues increase of $40.00.
•  The increase would take effect in the 2012 budget year.
•  Because it is “dedicated” to this initiative, it would be used exclusively to fund political advocacy efforts.
•  In the past, NAR has already contributed funds to this initiative out of its operating budget.
•  But to undertake the initiative at this level and give it a best chance for success, greater additional funding is needed.
•  The increased dollars will be dedicated solely to advocacy purposes as outlined by the Political Survival Initiative.
•  If this dues increase is approved, over 50% of NAR budget would be devoted to political advocacy, which consistently ranks among members as the #1 benefit they receive from NAR.

What are the benefits of the Political Survival Initiative?
•  The most powerful benefit is it will keep the REALTOR® organization as one of the most influential advocacy groups in America.
•  There are monumental issues coming down the pike that will affect members in their daily businesses, such as the future of mortgage finance and keeping housing affordable in America.
•  We must have the power to shape this pivotal moment for the American Dream of Home Ownership.
•  Most importantly, these dollars will be available to state associations and local boards.
•  2/3rds of the dollars raised will be returned back to states to be used in support of local candidates and issue campaigns, and for other political advocacy needs—to help shape the opinions of candidates on real estate-related issues as they work their way up as elected leaders.
•  It will combine NAR funds with state/local funds to increase our political power
•  It will create early relationships with state and local lawmakers/policymakers
•  It will shape the political make-up of state or local governing bodies.
•  NAR President Ron Phipps often comments that “now is our time.”
•  With this initiative, REALTORS® are seizing the moment for home ownership.
•  We are doing this NOT ONLY because of the Citizens United Supreme Court decision, but because our core competency is our grass roots advocacy; it’s where we need to be investing today so our future advocacy efforts will be successful tomorrow.
•  We need to be grooming our "REALTOR® Champions" at the state / local levels now, before some of them progress to become elected leaders at the federal level.
•  The political press in Washington has already noted the emerging clout of the REALTOR® Party.
•  A recent article in Politico said: “REALTORS®… are going to want to be politically effective, and a large measure of their influence is that they are present everywhere.”
•  Now is our time to seize the day.



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Joel Jadofsky
Keller Williams - homes for sale - Florida - Gulf - Beach - Panama City Beach, FL
One of the Top Realtors in Panama City Beach Area

and you sit here and say its alot of groaning over just $40.. It's not just $40 its $40 more.. and then its more and more.. and we have no control over whats it spent on fighting....40 million more on top of the 40 million we already spend is a lot of palm greasing...which I personally think should be illegal anyway....

Mar 26, 2011 08:16 PM #111
Mike Carlier
Lakeville, MN
More opinions than you want to hear about.

There should be an alternative to being a NAR member.  What do we have now?  We have an elite group of folks who put out questionable economic reports and run television campaigns that do little more than state the obvious.  We desperately need an organization that raises the standards and promotes the image of real estate professionals.  And, no, not all reasonable people believe that the fate of the housing industry rests on the mortgage interest tax deduction.

Mar 27, 2011 04:17 AM #112
Perky&Jody Magee
Harborside Realty - Marblehead, MA
Gene: Ditto on the comment that you completely missed the point by saying, "jeez, and all this moaning and gnashing of teeth over $40." Wow, what were you ever thinking! Also, we are most disappointed in your candor; your responses to comments implied a neutrality on the issue. It is very apparent that you are a loyal NAR "company man". Your NAR bias is evidenced by the peripheral responses, or no responses at all, to most of the hard questions & objections posed by commentors. Here are a couple of questions we would like you to respond to, so you can be on record as to where you do stand on some very basic, gut, issues. Your responses will disclose where your loyalties lie; with the perceived, inefficient, ineffecive, behemoth NAR, or its dissatisfied, alienated, feeling excluded membership. 1. Shouldn't all NAR members be offered the opportunity to vote (it would be very easy accomplishes through email) on increases in their dues? And how their dues are spent? 2. Why aren't all meanignful budgetary breakdown figures thoroughly disclosed, say quarterly, in an NAR email bulletin; sent directly to all of us, rather than our needing to go searching for them (are they even available)? Knowing the pie chart breakdown of the generic categories of where our NAR dues go is fine, and presently done, BUT, Just what do executives John Doe and Sally Jones do, and how much are they paid for their efforts, and what are the details of their expense accounts? 3. Shouldn't there be a QUARTERLY NAR email questionaire sent directly to all Realtors asking for their opinions and suggestions on specific current, relevant issues on the table? That would cost next to nothing, generate grassroots input, and, just may garner some very valuable information from those interested enough to respond. 4. Do you feel the NAR should be held more accountable to its membership? 5. It's all about communication, full disclosure, and allowing the membership to have a real opportunity to have a real voice in just how their money is spent! Do you agree? Thank you, Perky & Jody
Mar 27, 2011 05:43 AM #113
Gene Wunderlich
1st Action Real Estate - Murrieta, CA
Realtor & Legislative Liaison

Actually Joel, yes you are still wrong. It's your gross adjusted income, not unearned, and since the capital gains exclusion still applies, you would only pay on that portion that exceeds the $500,000 exclusion. Big difference from your initial post where you claimed that it applied to all real estate sales. And yes NAR did bring it to our attention and provided a comprehensive breakdown on the issue. You could read it yourself at Health Insurance Reform. And do you know why NAR was not abler to do anything about this particular section of the bill? You should ask them - I got a very comprehensive answer when I asked. Wasn't necessarily the answer I wanted to hear, but it addressed the reality of the process.

#109 - NAR backed the party of more jobs? Which party would that be? Just curious. Since NAR's money gets spent almost equally between Republican and Democratic candidates, which party are you referring to. In this last election it was 53% D, 47% R and over the past 20 years it has worked out to slightly more (by about 2%) to Republican candidates. but we are recognized as one of the most bipartisan lobbies in DC. That's according to Politico and other sources - not NAR by the way.

#110 - actually housing affordability is at an all time high. Don't know about your area but in CA we have gone from an HAF of about 17% 5 years ago to nearly 60% today. Our percentage of first time buyers is also at a peak of over 40%. And your other contention is that unions help create jobs? Again, in CA, the public unions and their recalcitrant demands have destroyed jobs and are almost singlehandedly responsible for the economic crisis in our state. I agree that a revolution is almost assuredly in our future at some point. We've reached the tipping point where the takers outnumber the givers and that cannot be sustained indefinitely.

Jeez I hate to seem so argumentative but you can't keep making stuff up and expect it to fly here. I appreciate all the feedback on the NAR initiative and the fact that many of you have some real emotional opposition to the association itself, not just the $40. I hope NAR is taking note. I do believe that implementing the $40 at this time will result in a loss of membership - how significant I don't know. I'm also not convinced it's the right move at the right time. I believe there are other areas that moneys can be obtained from that could be shifted from less effective programs to support the political process. It is also apparent that there is a lack of communication and transparency with many of you. That is both a failing on the part of NAR as well as yourselves for not availing yourselves of the information that is available and demanding answers from your local, state and national reps.

Mar 27, 2011 07:37 AM #114
Dunes (Not an Agent)

Interesting progression...I hope Millions of the Public are able to read this and form their own view

I know I have....


Mar 27, 2011 09:52 AM #115
Beverly Read

Good responses pro and con on this post.  It is important to be recruiting candidates who support our issues and to get them elected.  Campaigns cost more each year.  Realtors should stand united and participate instead of  saying the associations do nothing for us.  Without the organization we do not stand a chance individually.  There are only winners and losers in the game of politics and I want to shore up our opportunities to be the winners for our industry and home ownership. 

Mar 27, 2011 02:32 PM #116
Valerie Baker
Exit Real Estate Professionals - Spokane, WA
Spokane Realtor

I googled CA housing affordability and came up with some interesting links from the California Association of Realtors.  Your HAR is not better because the middle class is holding on to or obtaining good jobs.  Your homes are affordable because your housing bubble burst, or should we say exploded and the interest rates are low, at least for now!  The median price was $592k at its peak in Q1 of 2007 and $310K in Q4 of 2010.  This may be making your homes more affordable for some, but the explosion was life shattering for others.  The interest rate also went down almost 2% in that time period.  I am not sure, Mr. Wunderlich, how this course of events falls on the shoulders of the union workers.

Public unions may be out of hand in California.  But, honestly, during the boom how did you expect anyone to be a public employee and live in California if the wages were not adequate?  I taught school in California one year in the late 90's and, trust me, teachers weren't able to afford $560k homes! California's downfall was not their unions.  It was the fact that corporate greed took over and invited massive illegal immigration in order to acquire cheap labor. What a money saver that turned out to be!  Then, the State of California needed to provide education and services to all of these illegal immigrants and their children. 

But, this argument could go on forever and not address the issue at hand.  Should the NAR be allowed to collect mandatory dues from us for political advocacy?   I say NO.  In our area we are required to be members in order to access our MLS. I do not want my money adding to the corruption already running rampant in D.C. If we, as members, feel compelled to support or fight against some act that is brought before Congress, let us take to the streets like the citizens of Wisconsin did.  Let's not compromise our integrity and rely on lobbyists to do shady backdoor deals for us.  As a Realtor I want to be proud to bear the name and, as a group, we can help to bring some transparency back to American politics. 


Mar 27, 2011 03:34 PM #117
Sally K. & David L. Hanson
EXP Realty 414-525-0563 - Brookfield, WI
WI Realtors - Luxury - Divorce

We would be more than fine if NAR would let us take our own initiative at the voting booth...the 4 color expensive post cards we got this weekend from the local folks to support a judge...oh please...if this is the age of the internet,,..put your suggested candidates on the website and save trees, time, money...they won't get my vote spending money.

Mar 28, 2011 12:09 AM #118
Barbara Calwhite
Keller Williams Realty of Southwest Missouri - Joplin, MO
417-438-7387 Specializing in Relocation

Thanks for the heads up on this issue.  I have forwarded you blog to our local RPAC representative.  You have so much information that it takes time to read.

I have bookmarked it so I can go back and absorb it.

Mar 28, 2011 06:09 AM #119
Terry Miller
CBB - Seattle, WA

You may know that I am a NAR Director for my company, a Big Broker, Coldwell Banker Bain. I am newly on the 2011 NAR Communication Committee and I have a role and responsibility in educating REALTORS about the upcoming initiative which the NAR Directors will vote on in May at the REALTOR Meeting in WA D.C. I have tried to wade through all of this info (think communication), provided by NAR, WA REALTORS, videos, lots of social media messages and articles and conclude that I am in favor of this $40 increase (which takes our NAR dues from $80 to $120 annually).  I agree that the playing field has changed and we deserve to earn the political clout to attempt to get Homeowner’s (and our, of course), political agendas met.


This is important and it is about increasing the dues and there are lots of conversations floating around and there has been talk of trading the Public Awareness campaign for this Initiative’s $40 a year and I think they are different issues and should not be tied together and to do so only confuses the conversation about the merits of each. I believe both are needed and are BOTH critical to our industry. The Public Awareness Campaign adds value to our members and consumers specifically by helping promote market activity (think tax credits), as well as helping consumers “get” homeownership. NAR says that this campaign has been rated as high as second, just behind advocacy, as a reason members found value in our membership. NAR also says that the cost of the Public Awareness campaign ($35.00 annually), will net more than 8 billion consumer impressions. This is NOT the time to cut back and we all KNOW this—in softer markets we should increase our spending to remind our consumers that we are and we will be there for them in any market—and this is no different but on a grander scale. And, although re-thinking this $35/year campaign has not formally been introduced as far as I know, I do not think we should cut back on this campaign. I recommend we continue to support this, too.


And, as the EO of Washington REALTORS, Steve Francks says: We can't sit back and not even try to fight, not even try to have influence. And let's face it, the monetary price of political involvement has gone up. Way up. Others are playing at that level. Can we afford not to? I say we cannot!


So, I say yes to this initiative and yes to keeping the Public Awareness Campaign safe and funded. Lastly, I would just like to remind everyone that $40 a year is $3.33/month and the cost (dare I say it), of 1 Latte. I intend to vote YES in May.


THX for listening.


Terry Miller, NAR Director

Mar 30, 2011 08:53 AM #121
Gene Wunderlich
1st Action Real Estate - Murrieta, CA
Realtor & Legislative Liaison

Thank you for a reasoned and well posted comment. We tend to lose that in the emotion of the issue as illustrated in this chain. The truly sad thing is how many people do not seem to know what NAR does for the Realtor. Or maybe they just don't care, not sure which. There is a lot of misinformation and misperception out there.

It will be interesting to see what the response rate is for the recent MID Call to Action. Since the normal response rate runs around 12%, that tells me 88% simply can't be bothered  taking the 30 seconds it takes to respond on an issue critical to their future. Of course some will argue that 88% don't agree with NAR on preserving the MID. Maybe we truly could thin the ranks and increase the level of professionalism in our ranks all by increasing dues $40.

Mar 30, 2011 09:57 AM #122
Joel Jadofsky
Keller Williams - homes for sale - Florida - Gulf - Beach - Panama City Beach, FL
One of the Top Realtors in Panama City Beach Area

Very Narrow minded thinking.. lets raise our fees and thin the ranks and have more professionalism.. so anybody who does not agree with you or NAR like 88% of us are then not considered could just be that 12% of you are the narrow minded unprofessional ones....You  think by lining peoples pockets to get your own way is right....once again our country wasnt founded on the rich only succeed... Most realtors are just regular mom and pops.. we feel Greasing the wheel is just as bad as lying or cheating....we all have votes and we use them.. to give someone money to get your agenda hidden in a 2300 page admentment is just wrong....


I know I know now here is where you sau everyone else does it........ and that is how us regular folks get screwed all the time..just like by the oil companies and the Tabacco companies....



Just like BP is doing to us now....



I know you dont agree so you will delete this as you have already done before...

Apr 01, 2011 12:38 PM #124
Susan Waddle
J. Jones and Company - Fort Myers, FL

NAR and our LOCAL BOARDS PRINT OUT WHO THEY BACK...YEP  80-90% with the (R) by their names....sure was not a (D)  Still looking for the JOBS!  Yes, unemployment is at 8.8%  WOW..But, wages are down, businesses are still not hiring, yet Corporation are sure making money! Oversea's!


Yes to Joel!  WE can bang our heads as much as we want, telling the truth, but we are EVIL in their minds and uneducated!  Oh, well.   At least I can hold my head up high!  Agree with you on BP..everyone here, who had not REALLY SEEN AND FELT what happened in Joel's area by watching FOX NOISE..fell sorry for you!

Apr 01, 2011 01:40 PM #125
Gene Wunderlich
1st Action Real Estate - Murrieta, CA
Realtor & Legislative Liaison

Ah Joel, yes you are right and 88% of our members feel just as you do. Those of us who do support our national association are wrong. Yeah, just like the oil companies. Why didn't I see that.

So did you take a minute to respond to the call for action? Or is the mortgage interest deduction not important to your business model you've got going on there no thanks to NAR who apparently didn't rush you a boatload of money when BP leaked. Delete your message? Heavens no, I think it's important for people to see the level of professionalism we have in this organization.

Susan - I would ask if you are in any way involved with the decisions your board makes but it's obvious from your post you prefer to sit on the sidelines and bitch about what they do rather than actually doing something yourself. Do you know why they back who they do? Do you know that in the last election they backed Democrats 47% of the time and Republicans 53%? Or that NAR is one of the most bi-partisan PAC's in the country and over the last 20 years backing has been almost equally split? Do you know I have members who won't pay their political action because NAR contributed to Barney Frank and Harry Reid? No? You didn't know that? Oh yeah, I forgot, I'm the one that's out of touch. Sorry.

Apr 02, 2011 05:36 AM #126
Gene Wunderlich
1st Action Real Estate - Murrieta, CA
Realtor & Legislative Liaison

At the risk of disappointing future commenters, I'm tired of responding to non-sequiters. The issues is the proposed $40 dues increase by NAR & should they do it? I really don''t care if you think Realtors shouldn't be involved in the political process. That's not the question. We are and we must be. Just because you don't like it doesn't mean it's not true. At some point you have to face reality and understand that your ability make a living in your chosen profession will rely as much on our success in DC and your state capitol as on your own hard work. You can work 10 hours a day to make a decent living but if somebody in DC or Sacramento or wherever decides to pass some onerous bill, you just get to work 12 hours a day to make the same living - IF YOU HAVE NOBODY FIGHTING FOR YOUR RIGHTS and the private property rights of landowners.

You may not like it but that's reality today. You can make the choice to stick your head in the sand but it doesn't change reality for the rest of us.

By the way, if you would like to actually get THE FACTS on who NAR supports and a 20 year history of expenditures, just visit Open Start your search under 'Heavy Hitters' and take it from there. You might be pleasantly surprised.



Apr 02, 2011 05:55 AM #127
Joel Jadofsky
Keller Williams - homes for sale - Florida - Gulf - Beach - Panama City Beach, FL
One of the Top Realtors in Panama City Beach Area

Actually Gene we have a Bus Load going to Tallahassee in April from Bay County Realtors for just this.. Yes Mortgage Interest Dedection is a very important issue that I do support..and 40 to 50 realtors showing up to speak our minds from our area is a great way to do it.. and yes I did push the button

Apr 03, 2011 04:11 AM #128
Gene Wunderlich
1st Action Real Estate - Murrieta, CA
Realtor & Legislative Liaison

Thank you.

Apr 03, 2011 05:48 AM #129
Kathie Burby
Coldwell Banker Mother Lode Real Estate - Sonora, CA
REALTOR, SFR, Tuolumne County Real Estate Guide

Wow many of the comments were so off topic I just had to fast forward through them. Gene - thanks for being brave enough to take on this topic in your blog. You certainly have dealt with the personal attacks as well as an onslaught of off topic comments in a very professional manner. Kudos!!

Now - the $40 increase in dues. I am ambivilant about this issue. I do recognize how much NAR does for its members. I do understand the importance of RPAC. Not only do I voluntarily contribute each year when I pay my membership dues, I am the chair of the Local Governance Relations committee for my local Board. We were successful in backing 2 candidates for county supervisor last year. We watch issues closely and lobbying our representatives at every level. We do all this with very little money, last year we spent $4500 and that was an election year. In non-election years we spend zero dollars of our members money and still work just as hard on various issues. 

Could NAR do a better job with the monies they already collect from us? I think they could. These are hard economic times for us all. I urge NAR to remember, many REALTORs have lost them homes to foreclosure or are barely hanging on. Now is a time for NAR to tighten its budget, not a time to raise dues.

Apr 10, 2011 07:26 AM #130
Tony Barker
Premiere Home Realty - Tony Barker 832-867-0835 - Houston, TX
Hey Gene! Why does NAR not put it to a straight up vote of the membership? Why will most of the local associations not publish the results of the surveys we took? I can only find Dulles Area Association of Realtors results which are telling: 86.6% were against it. I think that result is self evident and would be consistent across the country. It is not unlike people who do not give to charity but want you taxed to give to the poor. This mandatory fee will only make a few fat cats fatter (lawyers and lobbiests) and each of us a little poorer. I suspect many who say they are for this fee are interested in pricing their competition out of businesss with more and higher fees. That is living in a world of scarity. I choose to live in a world of abundance and want everyone who will compete with me to do their best, pay the least and let the best shine through. Just my humble opinion. In any case, this fee will give way to competition at the Association level. Like AARP they will find people leaving NAR for something else... Maybe NAR's first priority would be to prevent that? I know that is paranoid, right? Making people sign up and pay for something they do not want (healthcare). I hope this helps! Tony Barker, Broker, Trainer, Mentor Premiere Home Realty Inc, Cypress Texas, Harris County and surrounding counties, Houston METRO area in Texas. 832-867-0835 /
Apr 12, 2011 03:13 AM #131
Gene Wunderlich
1st Action Real Estate - Murrieta, CA
Realtor & Legislative Liaison

Appreciate the input. I've updated NAR's position on this from yesterday's webinar where they put forward a kind of Plan B, which is to put the Public Awareness campaign away for a couple years and use that money for this new initiative, From many of the comments received here and to previous posts, that program does not go over too well with many Realtors although NAR calls it a great success.

Make sure your local association and your NAR Directors know your feelings on this matter prior to our May meeitngs. Thanks.

Apr 14, 2011 11:59 AM #132
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