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Monday, March 4, 2024

National Association of Realtors (N.A.R.) President Resigns Amid Turmoil and Blackmail Threat

Tracy Kasper, the president of the embattled National Association of Realtors, has resigned from her position just four months into her tenure. This abrupt departure follows the resignation of her predecessor, Charlie Oppler, who stepped down amid allegations of sexual harassment and a major antitrust lawsuit that dealt a significant blow to the organization’s influence.

The announcement of Kasper’s resignation came through a brief news release from N.A.R., citing a potential blackmail threat as the reason for her departure. According to the release, Kasper “recently received a threat to disclose a past personal, nonfinancial matter unless she compromised her position.” The matter has been reported to the police, but the release provided no specific details, and Kasper has yet to respond to further requests for comment.

The National Association of Realtors, with its 1.5 million members, has historically held immense power over the U.S. housing industry for over a century. The organization, which boasts over $1 billion in assets, operates the leading political fundraising entity in the country and holds the trademark for the term “Realtor.” Membership in N.A.R. grants access to nearly all U.S. home listings and the right to use the Realtor title, with members paying substantial annual dues.

Kasper assumed the role of president earlier than planned after Oppler’s resignation in the wake of sexual harassment allegations. However, her tenure was marked by a series of challenges, including a landmark antitrust lawsuit in federal court. The jury’s verdict implicated N.A.R. and several major brokerages in conspiring to enforce a policy requiring home sellers to pay commissions to the buyer’s agent, leading to excessive fees for sellers. The damages awarded in the case amounted to nearly $1.8 billion, with the potential for treble damages, which could exceed $5 billion. N.A.R. is currently appealing the decision.

Following this verdict, another class-action suit was filed, seeking damages upwards of $200 billion. The organization faced internal turmoil, with its longtime CEO announcing early retirement and the director of human resources, facing calls for removal, also stepping down. Subsequent lawsuits have further fueled concerns among members that the mounting legal troubles could jeopardize the organization’s financial stability and disrupt real estate transactions across the country.

In addition to legal challenges, internal issues, including sexual harassment allegations and power struggles, have added to the organization’s woes. N.A.R. members expressed frustration over distractions caused by these issues, with concerns that the legal battles could potentially bankrupt the organization.

The departure of Kasper, amid a reported blackmail threat, has left the organization in a precarious position. More than a dozen lawsuits have accumulated, and members fear the potential consequences for N.A.R.’s financial health and the broader real estate industry.

Kevin Sears, the former first vice president who stepped into the role of vice president in August following Oppler’s resignation, will now assume the position of president, taking the reins in this challenging period for the National Association of Realtors.

The unexpected turn of events raises questions about the future trajectory of N.A.R. and the real estate landscape it has long influenced.

Jonathan James
I serve as a Senior Executive Journalist of The National Era
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