DataDigest: 25 years of NAR lobbying visualized

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) is navigating turbulent waters. Its president just resigned in the wake of an explosive New York Times exposé that detailed dozens of allegations of sexual harassment and a culture of fear and retribution. The trade group also faces two massive class-action lawsuits that could forever upend the agent commission structure, and is fighting a separate legal battle with the Department of Justice.

Former NAR president Kenny Parcell denies the harassment allegations, and a NAR spokesperson previously told HousingWire that it does not tolerate discrimination, harassment or retaliation.

Some Realtors have called for executives to be fired and a wholesale reform to the structure of the trade group, which has 1.6 million members, the majority of whom are women.

NAR’s struggles are a focal point for the housing industry, as the association is the industry’s top policy advocate and among the biggest lobbying spenders in the nation.

The organization outspent every organization in the country in 2020 and 2022 and came in second behind the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in seven of the last 10 years. It is on pace for another second place finish this year.

No one in the real estate industry comes close to NAR’s lobbying budget. Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae briefly outspent NAR in the early 2000s, but the association has held the industry’s top spot since 2006, according to OpenSecrets data.

Last year, it spent $81.7 million on lobbying, dwarfing the industry’s second highest amount: $6.8 million by the National Multifamily Housing Council.

The association spent more than $23.5 million in the first half of 2023, almost half of the entire industry’s spending.

Legislative priorities

“From its building located steps away from the United States Capitol, NAR advocates for federal policy initiatives that strengthen the ability of Americans to own, buy and sell real property,” NAR says on its website.

Unsurprisingly, housing is NAR’s most lobbied category over the last 25 years, according to OpenSecrets. Taxes, finance, insurance, and consumer product safety round out the top five.

NAR’s website lists its top priorities for 2023 as:

NAR’s disclosures this year cite 36 bills, according to OpenSecrets. Other policy topics include flood insurance, flood mitigation funding, data privacy, investment incentives for downtowns, and electronic notarizations, among others.

Over the last decade, the bills most most cited in the association’s disclosures are as follows: