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May 19, 2024

National Association of Realtors President Resigns Amid Blackmail Threat

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Jan 9, 2024

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) is facing another leadership crisis as president Tracy Kasper resigned on Monday alleging an unnamed group threatened to publicly disclose a personal matter if she did not meet a series of demands.

Background

Tracy Kasper, a Chicago-based real estate broker, was elected NAR president in November 2022. She succeeded Charlie Oppler, who resigned in August 2022 amidst criticism over the trade group’s response to a Department of Justice antitrust probe.

The NAR has faced increased scrutiny and lawsuits in recent years over claims that some of its rules violate antitrust laws and artificially inflate commissions charged by realtors.

In November 2020, the Justice Department sued NAR alleging that some of its policies amounted to illegal restraints on the way real estate agents compete. NAR has vowed to vigorously contest the lawsuit but some critics argued the group has been slow to make changes.

Blackmail Allegations and Resignation

In a shock announcement on Monday, Kasper said she was resigning as NAR president over “harassment” from unnamed “cyber criminals” seeking to extort her. She said this group threatened to publicly disclose a personal matter if she did not comply with a series of demands including:

  • Pay hush money
  • Manipulate the NAR governance process
  • Influence NAR decisions to benefit certain groups

“Over the last couple of weeks, cyber criminals have targeted me personally with ransom ware attacks and phishing schemes. Recently, they threatened public disclosure of a private matter unless I agreed to meet their demands which I will not do,” Kasper said in her resignation letter.

She said it was in the “best interest” of NAR for her to step down to avoid damage to the organization’s reputation. NAR CEO Bob Goldberg said the trade group accepted Kasper’s resignation with a “heavy heart”.

NAR Appoints New Acting President

Following Kasper’s resignation, NAR immediately appointed 2023 President-Elect Kevin Sears to serve as the acting president.

Sears is the CEO of The Sears Group and has been active in NAR leadership roles over the past decade. He praised Kasper’s “selfless decision” to resign amidst the threats.

“Tracy has shown tremendous strength in the face of adversity,” Sears stated. “I’m fully committed to continuing the strategic work Tracy set into motion.”

He also vowed to keep pushing forward the Department of Justice antitrust settlement talks initiated under Kasper’s leadership.

What Next for NAR?

Kasper’s abrupt resignation after just two months as president adds to the turmoil and uncertainty facing the 1.6 million member real estate trade group.

Some key questions in the wake of this latest scandal:

  • Will there be an independent investigation? Kasper was light on specifics regarding the blackmail threats and demands. Some NAR members are calling for a full third-party examination of the extortion claims.

  • Any leadership changes on the horizon? Even before this resignation, there were rumblings of an internal challenge to Sears’ expected elevation to 2024 president. Could this give more momentum for someone else to jump in the race?

  • Impact on antitrust settlement talks? After months of negotiations, NAR and the DOJ were said to be close to announcing a settlement deal on the 2020 antitrust complaint. This latest controversy could potentially derail the sensitive talks.

While Kasper only served two months as president, she was seen as bringing stability after the rapid leadership change last fall. Her abrupt departure plunges NAR right back into uncertainty as it battles legal challenges on multiple fronts.

Key Facts on National Association of Realtors:

Year Founded 1908
Membership Size 1.6 million+ realtors
2021 Revenue $213 million
CEO Bob Goldberg (since 2019)
Headquarters Chicago, IL

The NAR wields tremendous lobbying influence in Washington and state capitals across America. But a series of scandals and lawsuits have exposed rifts within the prominent trade organization.

Monday’s resignation demonstrates NAR remains plagued by internal divisions and external legal threats – despite the solid housing market fundamentals.

Appointing Sears as acting president may temporarily steady the ship. But pressure is mounting for more significant governance reforms to tackle the growing criticism of NAR policies.

“This is an organization adrift desperately clutching to outdated business practices,” said one anonymous NAR insider.

How the next president handles demands for change from the Biden administration and also the NAR rank-and-file will determine if even more turmoil lies ahead for America’s largest trade association.

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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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