The president of the embattled National Association of Realtors has resigned after just four months in office. Tracy Casper is the second president to abruptly resign from NAR — an organization that has seen its power and influence decline in recent months after losing a major antitrust lawsuit and amid allegations that leaders ignored sexual harassment allegations.
NAR announced Ms. Casper’s sudden exit on Monday In a brief news release This implied that Ms Casper had received threats of blackmail. According to the news release, “he recently received threats to disclose a past personal, non-financial matter unless he compromised his position,” and he reported the matter to police.
The organization provided no details and declined to provide further comment; Ms. Casper did not immediately respond to another request for comment.
NAR is the largest professional organization in the United States and has exercised immense power over the nation’s housing industry for more than a century. The organization has assets of over $1 billion, operates the number one political fund-raiser in the country and holds the trademark for the term “Realtor”. To gain access to nearly all American home listings and call themselves Realtors, each of its 1.5 million members has to pay hundreds of dollars in annual dues.
In August, The New York Times exposed widespread allegations of sexual harassment by its then-president, Kenny Parcells, as well as the organization’s practice of providing payments and non-disclosure agreements to women who reported sexual misconduct.
Mr. Parcells resigned two days after the investigation was published, and Ms. Casper, 55, who was already president-elect, stepped into the role earlier than planned. She is a longtime broker from Boise, Idaho.
In her short tenure, Ms. Casper tried to lead the organization out of several crises, including a landmark jury verdict in federal court in Missouri. The jury ruled that NAR and several large brokerages conspired to enforce a NAR policy requiring home sellers to pay a commission to the agent representing the buyer. Three plaintiffs representing half a million home sellers claimed they paid excessive fees as a result of the policy.
NAR and the brokerage were ordered to pay nearly $1.8 billion in damages. The ruling allows the court to issue treble damages, meaning it could rise to more than $5 billion. NAR is fascinating.
Within hours of that ruling, plaintiffs’ lawyers filed another class-action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in Missouri, this time requesting damages that could exceed $200 billion.
Following the verdict, the organization’s longtime chief executive announced he would retire more than a year early. Its longtime human resources director, who was facing widespread calls for her removal, also announced she was retiring.
More than a dozen other lawsuits have been underway since then, and many members fear that legal troubles could bankrupt the organization and disrupt the process of buying and selling homes in the United States.
Members have complained that internal issues, including sexual harassment allegations and power struggles, have been a distraction. In November, Mr. Parcells, who has denounced the allegations against him, wrote an open letter that NAR staff interpreted as a plan to cancel its national convention. Ms. Casper personally sent her former colleague a stern warning, and after the conference, NAR’s 69-person Executive Committee approved a new policy: a lifetime ban from all NAR events for any elected official who resigns. Gives up or is removed from office.
Ms. Casper, who helped pioneer that policy, is now tied to it.
In a statement, Ms. Casper said, “As a result of the recent threat and given the importance of this moment to me, my family and the organization, it is time for me to again put NAR’s interests first. Therefore, with gratitude and a heavy heart I tender my resignation as your Chairman with immediate effect.
Kevin Sears, who was NAR’s first vice president before moving into the vice president role when Mr. Parcells resigned in August, will take over as president.