Schick comes to this new role with more than 27 years of experience as a leader working with real estate agents.
PRESIDENT'S CORNER: Adapting to Changing Times
Like many Realtor associations across the country, HGAR’s finances are being impacted by inflationary pressures that are driving up operating costs. A sluggish housing market is also causing Realtor membership at the local, state and national level to drop. That means associations now have to pay more money to provide the same services, while generating less dues income as a result of a lower membership.
While we are on solid financial footing, HGAR must navigate these turbulent times to ensure it remains financially sound. When it comes to our finances, I believe leadership should always 1) be vigilant and proactive, 2) set long-term financial planning goals, and 3) routinely review and adopt policies in furtherance of those long-term objectives.
Following in the footsteps of the National Association of Realtors, the New York State Association of Realtors and OneKey MLS, this year HGAR implemented its first dues increase in two decades. In response to higher costs and lower projected membership enrollment, increasing dues allows HGAR to operate with a balanced budget.
This year, NAR’s Board of Directors overwhelmingly approved a policy tying annual membership dues to a measure of inflation, but without requiring annual dues increases. It is a mechanism for raising dues gradually over a period of time, as circumstances dictate. This is in contrast to an unplanned, reactionary response to economic circumstances that raises dues at a time when our members are least able to afford them. NAR’s mechanism preserves its ability to cope with rising costs, while spreading out those higher costs over time so that members can easily absorb them. This is a prudent policy that I also support and encourage for HGAR’s benefit.
While raising dues may be necessary, we must always be vigilant of our expenses. This year I recommended to staff that we explore additional vendor options for providing services to HGAR, and expand the use of Requests for Proposals for certain recurring services. This allows our vendors to compete for our business and encourages them to offer the most comprehensive service at the best price.
We can be cost conscious without cutting corners. In 2023, our first two major events—the annual Installation Gala and the DEI Summit—were both profitable and very successful. On October 19, we will host our 17th Annual Global Real Estate Summit. After securing a new venue at a significantly reduced cost and bringing together the largest coalition of Realtor associations in the nation to host the Summit, this year’s event may be our most financially successful Global Summit ever.
Given historically high inflation, rising interest rates, and the economic uncertainty that pervades our world, HGAR’s Finance Committee felt it prudent to revisit our Investment Policy. Being vigilant means constantly reviewing and implementing strategies that ensure the safety of HGAR’s investments while also securing the highest possible rate of return on our investments. After a lengthy review of our existing Investment Policy and consultations with our investment advisors, the Finance Committee made extensive revisions to our Investment Policy, which were recently approved by the Board of Directors.
After HGAR’s merger with the Bronx Manhattan North Association of Realtors (BMNAR), HGAR assumed ownership of BMNAR’s building headquarters. For more than 30 years BMNAR’s headquarters has been a haven and a fixture in the neighborhood for both Realtors and members of the community. However, the building is in need of repair and it has been underutilized. This year, I reconvened our Bronx Presidential Advisory Group (PAG) to explore every option—selling the building, rehabbing the building, renting out a portion of the building to generate rental income, etc. With a feasibility study now complete, our PAG will continue its analysis and due diligence and recommend a final plan of action to unleash the full value potential from an otherwise non-performing, but very valuable, asset.
From news-breaking reporting to in-depth coverage of our local markets, political developments, legal updates, and Realtor news, our Real Estate In-Depth newspaper is one of HGAR’s great assets but also one of its costliest investments. With technology changing how we communicate and receive information at breakneck speed, it was time to explore whether the print version of Real Estate In-Depth is the most efficient and cost-effective means of communication with our membership. With a comprehensive survey of our membership completed, it is my hope that our Real Estate In-Depth PAG will be able to propose a plan that will allow our members to 1) continue to receive all of the same valuable Real Estate In-Depth content, 2) through multiple vehicles of communication, 3) in a way that increases readership, 4) enhances value for our advertisers, and 5) reduces cost.
For HGAR to remain a strong and vibrant association, being fiscally vigilant, prudent and proactive is necessary now more than ever. However, these attributes should always serve to guide us. As we enter into the second half of my year as President of HGAR, I am committed to promoting strategies and a vision that will allow HGAR to remain financially strong today and in the future.