As NAR searches for its next CEO, here’s how it spends member dues

Publish Date: August 09, 2023

Written by Andrea V. Brambila

- Originally published at Inman News - Andrea V. Brambila

This report is available exclusively to subscribers of Inman Intel, a data and research arm of Inman offering deep insights and market intelligence on the business of residential real estate and proptech. Subscribe today.

Whoever takes on the top job at the National Association of Realtors in 2025 will take on a mammoth organization of some 350 employees and 1.5 million members — and they’ll get paid handsomely, according to an Intel analysis.

Employee compensation is NAR’s largest expense, making up just under 30 percent of the group’s total annual costs, and its CEO is by far its most highly paid employee, according to a new analysis of the trade group’s nonprofit tax filings between 2004 and 2021.

NAR is now looking for its next head honcho — applications were due last week. According to filings, former CEO Dale Stinton raked in more than $23 million in his time as CEO and in the years after, when NAR continued to pay him as a consultant. Stinton’s successor Bob Goldberg earned nearly $11 million between 2017, when he became CEO, and 2021.

Depending on how long the next CEO stays in the post, NAR’s chosen candidate could make tens of millions of dollars. And because nearly all of NAR’s revenue comes from membership dues, it will be members who foot the bill.

In addition to paying its staff, NAR also compensates its leadership team who serve on its board of directors — including its president, president-elect, first vice president, immediate past president, treasurer, vice president of association affairs and vice president of advocacy — to the tune of six figures.

NAR’s current president Kenny Parcell recently came under scrutiny over sexual harassment allegations against him made by a former NAR employee in a lawsuit that has since been withdrawn. He earned $164,569 as NAR’s first vice president, according to 2021 tax filings, the most recent to be made public.

Greg Hrabcak

In an emailed statement, NAR Treasurer Greg Hrabcak told Intel that NAR is the largest trade association globally and strives to be “open, transparent and accountable.”

“As part of that commitment, NAR partners with a world-class, global human resources consulting firm every year to help us determine the compensation of our executive staff,” Hrabcak said.

“The association’s Finance Committee and I review this extensive market analysis annually to ensure NAR is compensating our key staff competitively and within a reasonable bandwidth.”

Here’s an in-depth look at NAR’s employee compensation over an 18-year period.

It takes a lot of people to run a giant ship

NAR has had an average of 380 employees annually between 2004 and 2021, but they’re not the only ones doing the trade group’s business. The association has a bigger board of directors than Congress; and in 2021, the board’s size reached a record high of 1,266. Moreover, NAR depends on thousands of unpaid member volunteers to make up the committees that guide the association’s policies: 2,100 of them in 2021.

No. of Employees No. of Directors No. of Volunteers
2004 325 N/A N/A
2005 324 885 N/A
2006 338 989 N/A
2007 354 964 N/A
2008 453 904 3,500
2009 391 961 3,500
2010 432 863 3,500
2011 421 881 3,500
2012 454 857 3,500
2013 381 771 2,100
2014 375 790 2,100
2015 383 829 2,100
2016 386 895 2,100
2017 355 902 2,100
2018 354 948 2,200
2019 396 935 2,400
2020 363 1,192 2,200
2021 356 1,266 2,100
Average 380 931 2,636

Source: NAR’s IRS 990 Forms 2004-2021

Membership dues are NAR’s lifeblood

NAR’s total annual revenues have risen more or less steadily since 2004 when the trade group brought in $126.6 million, of which 74.7 percent came from member dues. In 2021, the association brought in $327.3 million, of which 86.8 percent came from member dues.

NAR’s annual dues currently stand at $150 plus a special assessment for its consumer ad campaign, which was raised to $45 in 2022. But dues will increase to $156 in 2024 and rise with inflation in subsequent years. NAR hiked dues in 2008 to fund its for-profit subsidiary Second Century Ventures; in 2012 to boost spending on political advocacy; and in 2019 to spend more on political advocacy, cover a transaction management platform for members from Realtor-owned zipLogix and to shore up its reserves.

Chart by Daniel Houston

NAR’s fortunes rise with its investments — but they’re not a piggy bank

Still, when considering NAR’s total assets, it’s not dues that are making the trade group’s balance sheet sing but rather its investments. NAR’s net assets stood at $762.8 million in 2021 — more than four times higher than in 2017.

Total Assets Total Liabilities Net Assets or Fund Balances
2004 $223,356,509 $53,400,062 $169,956,447
2005 $256,674,140 $57,512,938 $199,161,202
2006 $292,718,547 $67,086,660 $225,631,887
2007 $303,019,095 $81,266,623 $221,752,472
2008 $290,970,647 $76,048,500 $214,922,147
2009 $279,353,923 $74,616,323 $204,737,600
2010 $274,120,469 $81,611,723 $192,508,746
2011 $258,251,232 $88,153,797 $170,097,435
2012 $284,680,727 $103,269,437 $181,411,290
2013 $294,738,867 $111,361,818 $183,377,049
2014 $294,947,391 $119,515,998 $175,431,393
2015 $323,211,041 $128,404,180 $194,806,861
2016 $304,900,822 $142,715,562 $162,185,260
2017 $318,060,454 $155,260,860 $162,799,594
2018 $489,366,059 $191,972,466 $297,393,593
2019 $697,288,307 $219,017,692 $478,270,615
2020 $868,094,059 $252,023,615 $616,070,444
2021 $1,027,371,742 $264,568,922 $762,802,820

Source: NAR’s IRS 990 Forms 2004-2021

In 2014, NAR grouped its for-profit subsidiaries — Second Century Ventures, SentriLock and Realtors Property Resource — under an umbrella company, National Association of Realtors Business Activities Corporation (NARBAC).

NARBAC’s assets — which started shooting up in 2018 and stood at $575.7 million at the end of 2021 — make up the bulk of NAR’s reported net assets.

National Association of Realtors Business Activities Corporation (NARBAC) Total Income End-of-year assets
2014 $27,060,518 $43,520,044
2015 $39,083,373 $48,101,394
2016 $46,058,395 $56,633,889
2017 $47,191,222 $75,596,288
2018 $64,612,371 $239,686,380
2019 $55,900,564 $313,627,290
2020 $208,458,422 $575,316,835
2021 $91,497,964 $575,694,718

Source: NAR’s IRS 990 Forms 2004-2021

“As the parent company of NARBAC — which holds SentriLock, SCV/Reach and RPR—NAR records our investment in NARBAC as an asset on our balance sheet,” NAR spokesperson Mantill Williams told Intel in an emailed statement.

“Increases in assets over recent years track with corresponding increases to the SCV investment portfolio.”

Mantill Williams

But that doesn’t mean that NAR can dip into NARBAC’s pocket to run its operations.

“However, although NAR must record the asset values on our balance sheet, those funds remain with the underlying for-profit corporation, and NAR does not have access to any NARBAC assets,” Williams said.

“Much could be said individually about the value of these entities, each is maintained and operated with the sole purpose of benefitting NAR and its members, providing Realtors with resources, investments, and access designed to help them better and more efficiently serve consumers across the globe.”

Paying NAR’s people

Employee compensation made up an average 27.4 percent of the association’s total annual expenses from 2004 through 2021, adding up to $64.9 million in 2021. This includes compensation of officers and directors (including from related organizations), other salaries and wages, pension plan contributions, other employee benefits and payroll taxes.

NAR’s total expenses have consistently come in at above $200 million since 2016; and in 2021, NAR’s total expenses added up to $247.6 million.

Chart by Daniel Houston

Stinton was NAR’s CEO between 2005 and 2017.

From 2005 through 2021, NAR paid Stinton $23.8 million in total compensation, including payments of $250,000 each in 2019, 2020 and 2021 for services as a consultant in which he averaged 30 minutes of work per week.

In 2017, Bob Goldberg, who was already a NAR veteran, succeeded Stinton as CEO. Between 2008 and 2021, NAR paid Goldberg $17.2 million, of which $10.6 million was for his services as CEO. In 2021, Goldberg earned $2.57 million and worked an average of 51 hours per week.

Chart by Daniel Houston

Asked whether NAR was continuing to pay Stinton as a consultant and whether Goldberg would have a similar deal when he retired, NAR declined to comment, saying its employment contracts are confidential.

“As the nation’s largest trade association, NAR directs an outside independent, world-class executive compensation and consulting firm to provide an objective review of executive compensation each year,” Williams told Intel.

“This analysis includes a thorough comparison of market data regarding positions with similar scope and responsibility, ensuring our association’s compensation structure is fair, competitive, and market-driven.”

NAR’s next highest-paid employees in 2021 were Mark Birschbach, senior vice president of strategic business innovation and technology ($1.04 million); Shannon McGahn, senior vice president of government affairs ($1.01 million); and Katie Johnson, general counsel and chief member experience officer ($963,164). All worked an average of 50 hours per week.

“Our officers work tirelessly on behalf of the association as part of the effort to put our members and staff in the best possible position to serve consumers worldwide,” Hrabcak said.

“They are testifying before Congress, promoting NAR within our industry, meeting Realtors across the nation and so much more, furthering our association’s broader work to support American real estate and property owners.”

Among its leadership team — in 2021 NAR’s President Charlier Oppler was paid the most ($294,798); followed by its President-elect Leslie Rouda Smith ($251,788); its Treasurer Nancy Lane ($174,658); and its first Vice President Kenny Parcell ($164,569).

“NAR also provides a stipend to our leaders to cover administrative and staffing costs incurred at their real estate business, which often take a back seat to their responsibilities as NAR officers,” Hrabcak said.

“This policy and all taxable benefit amounts are reviewed annually by NAR’s Finance Committee to ensure we are empowering our officer team to work at their most productive level. The end result is a comprehensive and consistent approach to both executive compensation and officer support that allows NAR to hire and maintain an excellent workforce that serves our full membership and appropriately rewards key industry leaders for their dedicated service.”

NAR’s IRS 990 Form for 2022 won’t be publicly available until next year, so how much the trade group is currently paying its executives and leadership is unknown. NAR started paying its leadership team in 2008. Between 2008 and 2021, NAR paid its presidents an average of $260,292 annually.

“Each year, NAR voluntarily presents a remuneration report to the Finance Committee which provides total compensation for NAR’s CEO and senior vice presidents,” Williams said.

“The report, completed to ensure executive compensation is appropriate, is not required of trade associations. However, NAR has elected to conduct this analysis and provide the report to promote transparency. It is also important to note that compensation figures for NAR’s Leadership Team reflect the provision of administrative stipends and the value of various travel benefits deemed taxable by the IRS.”

Compensation comparables

When compared to other real estate-related trade groups, NAR’s CEO compensation is not much higher than the median.

Mortgage Bankers Association of America $2,064,539
National Association of Home Builders of the United States $2,125,864
Independent Community Bankers of America $1,663,257
National Association of Real Estate Investment Trust Inc. $2,459,896
Real Estate Roundtable Inc. $2,211,184
The International Council of Shopping Centers $3,045,125
Median $2,168,524

Source: IRS 990 Forms for 2021

When asked for other trade organizations that NAR could be compared to, NAR sent Inman the following list for the next five largest trade associations, which Inman was unable to independently verify. When compared to these trade groups, NAR’s CEO compensation is quite a bit lower than the median.

2021 CEO Compensation
United States Chamber of Commerce $9,211,428
American Petroleum Institute $3,905,692
American Bankers Association $4,832,923
American Chemical Society $1,204,315
National Rifle Association $1,143,868
Median $3,905,692

Source: IRS 990 Forms for 2021

“Overall, NAR’s compensation philosophy targets the market median when determining executive compensation while also factoring in individual and organizational performance, internal equity, and prudency determined by our outside compensation consultant,” Williams said.

“While NAR is the largest trade association in the nation, its compensation rates land in the middle of the trade association market. As with most tax-exempt organizations, staffing costs represent the largest expense category of NAR, at just under 30 percent of our association’s total, annual expenses.”

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