REBNY Lays Off Staff and Cuts Salaries Due to Coronavirus

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The Real Estate Board of New York, the powerful real estate lobbying firm, laid off staff and slashed executives’ salaries because of a decrease in membership dues caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the organization confirmed.

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REBNY cut about 10 percent of its staff, decreased the salaries of its executives by 10 percent and dropped President James Whelan’s pay by one-third, The Real Deal reported.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has inflicted profound damage on New York City, its people and its economy,” a spokeswoman for REBNY said in a statement. “REBNY is not immune to or insulated from that impact. To manage our budget issues, we have focused on decreasing expenses including salary cuts, staff reductions and other measures.”

In a memo sent to members obtained by TRD, REBNY said it expects to have a $4 million revenue shortfall this year after payment of membership dues “slowed to a trickle” while the group is unable to host fundraisers during the pandemic.

The coronavirus pandemic essentially paused most real estate transactions in the city for three months, with a REBNY report finding that the city lost more than $160 million in tax revenue generated from investment and residential sales from March until May.

Brokerages like Avison Young, JLL and Meridian Capital Group have laid off or furloughed staff in the wake of the pandemic while landlords have dealt with uncollected rents for retail and office tenants.

REBNY faced a series of public losses last year — most notably Albany passing reforms to the state’s rent-stabilization system the real estate industry unanimously opposed — but has taken measures to help its members during the pandemic. It advocated for federal relief for small businesses in the city, released guidelines for in-person showings post-COVID-19 and launched a Coronavirus Resource Hub.