NAR President Resigns Amid Blackmail Threat and Legal Woes

The National Association of Realtors (NAR), the largest trade group in the U.S. with 1.5 million members, is facing a leadership crisis as its president, Tracy Kasper, announced her resignation on Wednesday, citing a blackmail threat from an unknown source.

Kasper, who became the NAR president in November 2023, said in a statement that she received an anonymous email on Monday, threatening to expose some personal information about her unless she paid a large sum of money. She said she immediately reported the email to the authorities and informed the NAR leadership team.

NAR President Resigns Amid Blackmail Threat and Legal Woes

She said she decided to resign from her position to protect her family and the reputation of the NAR. She also said she was confident that the NAR would continue to serve its members and the public with integrity and professionalism.

“I am deeply saddened and disappointed by this cowardly act of extortion, which has no place in our society,” Kasper said. “I have dedicated my life to the real estate profession and the NAR, and I am proud of the work we have done to advance the interests of our members and the consumers they serve.”

Kasper did not disclose the nature of the personal information that the blackmailer claimed to have, nor the amount of money that was demanded. She said she was cooperating with the law enforcement agencies that were investigating the matter.

Legal Troubles for NAR

Kasper’s resignation comes at a time when the NAR is facing a major legal challenge that could have far-reaching implications for the real estate industry. Last week, a federal jury in Illinois found the NAR and four of the largest residential brokerages in the U.S. — Realogy, HomeServices of America, RE/MAX and Keller Williams — liable for conspiring to artificially inflate commissions from home sales.

The class-action lawsuit, filed by a group of home sellers in 2019, alleged that the NAR and the brokerages violated antitrust laws by requiring sellers to pay the commissions of both the listing and the buyer’s agents, regardless of the services they provided. The plaintiffs claimed that this practice resulted in higher commissions and reduced competition in the market.

The jury awarded the plaintiffs $1.78 billion in damages, which could be tripled to $5.34 billion under antitrust law. The NAR and the brokerages said they would appeal the verdict and seek reduced damages. They also said they would continue to defend their business model, which they said was beneficial for consumers and agents.

The lawsuit is one of several that have been filed against the NAR and the brokerages in recent years, challenging the way commissions are set and shared in the U.S. real estate market. The NAR and the brokerages have denied any wrongdoing and have settled some of the cases out of court.

NAR Names Interim CEO

The NAR also announced on Wednesday that it had appointed Nykia Wright as its interim CEO, effective Nov. 30. Wright, who joined the NAR as its chief operating officer in July 2023, will replace Bob Goldberg, who announced his retirement in June and will step down at the end of the month.

Wright, a former executive at Ernst & Young, will lead the NAR’s communications, marketing, and branding efforts across the organization. She will also oversee the NAR’s strategic direction and policymaking in areas such as legislation, professional standards, and business services.

The NAR said it was conducting a nationwide search for a permanent CEO, with the help of an executive search firm and a selection committee composed of NAR leaders and members.

Wright said she was honored and excited to take on the interim role and thanked Goldberg for his leadership and mentorship. She also praised Kasper for her courage and dedication and wished her well.

“I look forward to working with the NAR leadership team, staff, and members to continue delivering incredible value to our members and advancing the real estate industry,” Wright said.

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