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National Association of Realtors president steps down, alleging blackmail threat

By Anna Bahney, CNN

Washington, DC (CNN) — The president of the embattled National Association of Realtors, Tracy Kasper, announced on Monday she would step down, alleging blackmail, according to a statement from the association.

Kasper — who has led the nation’s largest professional trade organization, with 1.5 million members, since August when she took over for the former president who resigned amid allegations of sexual harassment — informed NAR’s leadership team that she recently received a threat to disclose a past personal, non-financial matter unless she compromised her position at NAR, the statement said.

Kasper refused to do so and instead reported the threat to law enforcement and decided it was best for the organization that she step down, according to the association.

“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. So, it is with a mix of gratitude and a heavy heart that I submit my resignation as your president effective immediately.”

President elect Kevin Sears, who is also a broker and partner at Sears Real Estate in Springfield, Mass, will step into the role of president immediately.

A challenging year for NAR

National Association of Realtors faced several seismic shocks over the past year even as soaring mortgage rates dragged sales of homes to their lowest levels in years as homebuyers faced the least affordable market in decades.

In August then-president Kenny Parcell resigned amid sexual harassment allegations, first published by the New York Times, outlining complaints from current and former NAR employees that included improper touching and sending lewd photos and texts. In the Times article, Parcell denied the accusations. At the time, CNN reached out to Parcell for comment regarding the allegations and did not hear back.

Kasper, who had been president elect, stepped in at that point promising to address member and staff concerns.

Kasper took over the role acknowledging the “concern, anger and disappointment” among NAR staff and members in a statement adding: “Our commitment to our staff and our members is unwavering, and we will continue to enhance the way we foster a welcoming, safe and respectful workplace.”

In November the chief executive of NAR, Bob Goldberg also stepped down, replaced by Nykia Wright.

Goldberg’s departure came only two days after NAR and two brokerages were found liable for $1.8 billion in damages for conspiring to keep agent commissions artificially high by federal jury in Missouri in an antitrust case.

NAR said it would appeal the case. On Monday another defendant in the case, HomeServices of America, asked for a new trial.

The ramifications of that verdict and several similar cases that have been filed in its wake have shaken many agents as it raises concerns about how they earn their commission fees and challenged the leadership at NAR as some firms and organization have left the association.

Following the upheaval of the past year at NAR an agent-led organization calling for changes at NAR has emerged, called the NAR Accountability Project.

In a statement the founder of the project Jason Haber, an agent with Compass in New York City, said that while the group strongly believed it was time for a change in leadership at NAR, the circumstances surrounding Ms. Kasper’s resignation are of great concern.

“No one should be the victim of threats, intimidation or harassment,” Haber said. “If that happened to Ms. Kasper, that person should be prosecuted to the fullest extent under the law.”

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Article Topic Follows: CNN – Business/Consumer

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