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REBNY pulls out of NAR.

After years of wrangling over membership dollars and actual benefits, the Real Estate Board of New York has officially withdrawn from the National Association of Realtors.

While REBNY notified its membership of the pending change during this past winter, the National Association (NAR) has now formally requested the charter documents returned and officially acknowledged knowledged the retroactive withdrawal to January 1, 1994.

But ill affected brokers and salespeople are still being considered Realtor members for the 1994 year by the NAR and New York State Association of Realtors (NYSAR), whether or not the actual dues were paid.

At the heart of the issue were the number of salespeople and brokers that REBNY was required to pay dues for to the national and state associations. Under what is called a "three-way" agreement with the groups, REBNY was required to collect dues for all its member licensed brokers and salespersons in the territory of Manhattan.

REBNY claimed it had 800 members, while the State, group, after auditing the Department of State files, claimed it needed to pay for around 1,200.

According to REBNY's First Senior Vice President Warren Wechsler, it was REBNY's practice to report to the Realtor association all members who wanted to retain their association, and that, he said amounted to about half the licensees that belong to REBNY.

The dispute goes back decades, all the parties agreed, but came to a bead after REBNY surveyed its members and determined most did not want to remain part of the NAR and NYSAR.

A letter was sent to the members early this year. "It essentially said we get nothing from them," said one REBNY member who wished to remain anonymous. "It said we have our own presence in Albany; we have our own presence in Washington, The NAR just hit us up for six figures in fees, and we surveyed the membership and virtually all of you don't want to be affiliated with the national."

Wechsler, who was firm in his belief that the matter was private, said "For a variety of reasons, the affected real estate board members voted to terminate our organization's affiliation with the association and we hope that NAR and REBNY will continue to take similar positions on public policy issues of mutual concern in the future."

He insisted the dispute was not over public policy, adding "It was between the two groups."

A NAR hearing on the fee issue, a problem for other jurisdictions as well, was scheduled to be held in San Diego earlier this year. Rather than appearing, REBNY sent a letter in April requesting retroactive withdrawal to the first of the year.

In an August 5th letter to REBNY President Steven Spinola responding to its request, the NAR president, Robert E. Elrod wrote, "the retroactive withdrawal has serious consequences for the members who, in good faith, paid dues to the Real Estate Board of New York in anticipation that the appropriate amounts from those dues were being forwarded to the NAR and the New York State Association."

The letter also informs REBNY that services will be delivered to its Realtor members through the end of 1994, at which time they will have a choice of boards with which to affiliate and remain part of "our vital organization."

Laurene Janik, general counsel of NAR said, "We're hoping to soften the impact on the actual member."

Area boards are eager to help REBNY members who want to retain their NAR designations and use the Realtor name, that is trademarked for use only by members of NAR.

The Long Island Board of Realtor's Director of Communications, Randy Kaplan, said, while they won't go out and solicit them, REBNY Realtors would be welcome to join them. That group is already 10,000 strong.

Nuncio Del Greco, executive vice president of the Bronx Board of Realtors, said they were founded in 1924 and provide a wide range of services for all real estate professionals. Any of the former REBNY members will be welcome to join that board, too, he added.

John Leonardi, executive director, of Staten Island Board of Realtors, is vigorously trying to acquire the territory. "It's an unassigned territory," he added. "I have a full service MLS [multiple listing service], full service institute, and run a full board and we have a multitude of services we can offer."

In order to take over the territory, an application has to be in the hands of Patrick Reilly, director of board and member services for the NYSAR by August 28, he said. According to Reilly, there are over 1,800 local boards.

That would give him time to send out a 30-day notice to state members before presenting a proposal at the NYSAR meeting at the Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, September 28th to 30th. The results of that meeting would be voted on by the NAR directors at their meeting in California later in the year.

Under the NAR charter, when REBNY collected dues they were required to collect the state and local dues from all members who were licensed brokers and salespersons, as well as those in their offices. REBNY has over 4,000 members who are primarily owners and developer;. "They gave the NAR affiliations to their members as options," said one real estate expert familiar with the situation.

REBNY memberships range from a high of $740 for an A broker, to $367 for a C broker to $214 for a salesperson.

Speaking on a personal basis, Bruce E. Mosler, president of Galbreath Riverbank, a licensed broker, and a member of REBNY's Board of Governors, said "I support this move very strongly. I wasn't personally involved in the decision but I support this decision strongly. I would rather see the monies that REBNY would have allocated to them allocated to us, and I don't see the benefit in continuing membership." Those that want to continue their NAR/NYSAR affiliations can do so on their own, he added.

Dues for the state group are $51, while $59 is slated for the national.

"Multiplied by 800 members it's a loss of $40,000 to the state," observed Charles Staro, executive vice president of the NYSAR. "That is, if no one joins next year, We don't know what will happen. We like to feel there are benefits of the state and national association and people would like to maintain the designation |Realtor' and many of the people would decide to join on their own if a new board is not formed or the territory is unassigned.

Staro said the Realtor groups offer insurance programs, buying power programs, health programs, and errors and omissions insurance, among other benefits.

Alan J. Greenstein, GAA, RAA, who is incoming president of the NYSAR and a director of the NAR, as well as a member of REBNY and an appraiser who holds NAR designations, was still a bit shell - shocked over REBNY's decision.

"I know that it was put to a vote," he said. "But I don't think the opportunity to vote was given to those people who had the greatest interest, since the dues were never collected for many of the members."

Sometime between November 30 and December 31 the state association will bill the former REBNY members that are in its computers for 1995 dues.

Greenstein said individuals will be required to pay dues to another board to maintain both the Realtor "R" and individual designations such as Graduate, Realtor Institute (GRI), Certified International Property Specialist (CIPS), General Accredited Appraiser (GAA), and Residential Accredited Appraiser (RAA).

Susan Merdinger, CIPS, president and principal of Jean-Marc Levet & Partners, has been active with NAR for 25 years and is the vice chairman of the international operations committee as well as vice chair of education for the state association. "There is a tremendous benefit for the affiliation and one that will be a void for those that want to take advantage of the educational programs," she said. "It's unfortunate, because there is something good and beneficial to the association. There are still alternatives that will be available for those who want to affiliate and those have yet to be explored." Merdinger is meanwhile considering joining the Westchester Board.

Nonetheless, it's over as far as REBNY is concerned. "We have no desire to put ourselves in conflict with another industry organization or question the motives of its membership or its staff," said Wechsler.

"We just no longer have a relationship with them."
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Title Annotation:Real Estate Board of New York; National Assn. of Realtors
Author:Weiss, Lois
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Aug 17, 1994
Previous Article:Single family sales still dominate Westchester.
Next Article:Manhattan rental market tightening.

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