The National Association of Realtors has been under fire for months now and is still reeling from a late October 2023 verdict, when a jury ordered the organization and others to pay nearly $1.8 billion in damages to a class of more than 250,000 home sellers. On Monday, the organization took a fresh hit when president Tracy Kasper announced her resignation, claiming she was being blackmailed with a matter so severe she reported it to law enforcement.
The threat was to “to disclose a past personal, non-financial matter” unless she compromised her position at NAR, according to a statement from NAR on her resignation. Kasper had only been officially sworn in in late November 2023. Kasper couldn’t be reached for immediate comment about the matter.
The NAR had been rudderless since a bombshell August 2023 New York Times report revealed that former NAR president Kenny Parcell had been accused of sexual harassment by three women who worked for the Chicago-based group. The women described “a pattern of behavior that included improper touching and lewd photos and texts,” according to the report.
“As president and a long-time member of NAR, I always have put the interests of NAR first,” Kasper said in a statement. “As a result of the recent threat and given the significance of this moment for myself, my family and the organization, it is again time for me to put the interests of NAR first.”
She informed NAR’s leadership team of the threat, who said it was “deeply concerned about any attempt to undermine its governance,” and was “taking steps to protect the integrity of the organization,” without elaborating.
Who is replacing Tracy Kasper as NAR president?
Kasper will be immediately replaced by president-elect Kevin Sears, a realtor from Springfield, Mass. and a broker and partner of Sears Real Estate. He specializes in single family brokerage and property management, according to NAR.
Sears previously served NAR as the president’s liaison in 2019 and NAR vice president of government affairs in 2017 and is also former president of the Massachusetts Association of Realtors. He is not named in any of the allegations against the NAR leadership accused of sexual harassment.
Among other changes at the top of the organization, Nykia Wright was named the group’s interim CEO after Bob Goldberg stepped down in early November 2023 in the wake of the lawsuit regarding realtor commissions.
The October verdict involves NAR and the largest national real-estate broker franchisors, including Berkshire Hathaway’s HomeServices, with a jury finding that the organizations had conspired to artificially inflate the home-sale commissions paid to real estate agents. Kasper is also a broker/owner of a Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices office in Boise, Idaho.
The outcome of this lawsuit could spell continued turbulence for NAR—and for the real estate business at large.
“The outcome … could have major consequences for the real estate industry and profession for years to come,“ NAR chief legal officer Katie Johnson said in an October 2023 podcast. “What’s really at stake here is the way that compensation is made from listing broker to buyer broker.”