Making history in a 115-year-old organization isn’t easy to do. Yet, Idaho broker Tracy Kasper did just that when she stepped into the role of National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) president months earlier than expected. On August 30, when her tenure as 2024 president began, Kasper immediately became the focal point of crisis-management operations in the wake of deposed president Kenny Parcell’s sexual harassment controversy. An issue that continues to plague NAR leadership and the organization as a whole, Kasper found herself directly in the line of fire, confronting accusations concerning her own role in the alleged years of misbehavior and cover-up at the association, while trying to unite a fractured and angry staff and a wounded and troubled membership. Her objective? To right wrongs, change course and steer the massive NAR ship in a new direction.
Kasper hasn’t shied away from the task. “There is a tremendous amount of work ahead of us if we are to strengthen and stabilize NAR for the future,” she says, adding that, “We should be able to go into a room, ‘cuss it and discuss it,’ and walk out as friends, as partners and as one united team.”
In this exclusive interview, Kasper shares her sentiments regarding NAR’s current troubles, the specific steps that are being taken to create a new path forward and strategies to confront the other critical issues that loom large over the residential real estate industry.
Maria Patterson: You were called into action earlier than expected. Tell us about your feelings and main priorities during that time.
Tracy Kasper: I am grateful for the opportunity to serve in this important role alongside the incredible staff and members of NAR. There is a tremendous amount of work ahead of us if we are to strengthen and stabilize NAR for the future, and if we are to ensure that people continue to benefit from the multitude of valuable resources and activities that are available through this association. I know NAR is up for the task, and I intend to work with the leadership team, our executive committee and the board of directors to enact policies and procedures that improve culture, promote accountability and ensure this organization is a force for good in real estate. As we continue to deliver on this association’s mission on behalf of REALTORS® everywhere, I look forward to learning and growing together to produce results and achieve success for the real estate industry.
MP: How is NAR recovering from the sexual harassment lawsuit and its fallout, both within the organization as well as in the court of public opinion? What needs to be done to rebuild trust?
TK: We are unwavering in our commitment to promoting an environment where everyone feels safe, supported and empowered to do their best work. All of our stakeholders have a voice in shaping the work we do. Given the variety of perspectives that make up our organization, we all must listen to, and learn from, one another, to emerge a stronger, more cohesive organization.
As we review our existing policies, and adopt new procedures, we have engaged experienced and independent outside professionals who are at the forefront of their respective fields. They are helping to guide the actions we have announced recently, including:
- Creating a Policies and Procedures Task Force that will work with an outside law firm whose attorneys will conduct an independent assessment of NAR’s existing policies and practices and make recommendations to improve our procedures, trainings and systems in order to prevent inappropriate behavior, encourage reporting of alleged misconduct and promote an environment of transparency and accountability.
- Starting up a special committee that will work with outside legal counsel, which will independently investigate harassment, discrimination or misconduct complaints and report back to the special committee with findings and/or suggested remedial actions, as appropriate.
- Empowering a Culture Transformation Commission Task Force to engage members, NAR staff and local/state AEs and CEOs in improving NAR’s internal culture, led by an outside expert from the University of Southern California.
- Rolling out a new employee-to-employee complaint process to ensure all such complaints are sent directly to an outside independent investigator for review.
Serving our members, and empowering our staff, is at the heart of what NAR stands for. We believe these actions are a significant step in the right direction.
MP: How has your background prepared you to take on the NAR president role?
TK: I’ve been in real estate for over 30 years and am an active broker/owner (Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Silverhawk Realty) to this day. In fact, I also still list and sell properties.
I first ran for treasurer of my local association immediately after I received my license in 1997. Since I had been in the industry for five years before I was licensed, I understood what the association stood for, and I wanted to be a part of it. I ascended to president of that association and later served as president of the Idaho Association of REALTORS® in 2016, the same year that I began serving on the NAR Board of Directors.
Those experiences will inform my leadership as NAR president. I intend to help advance our organization’s mission of supporting more than 1.5 million members as they navigate a dynamic and rapidly evolving landscape, and I look forward to strengthening NAR for our collective future.
“There is a tremendous amount of work ahead of us if we are to strengthen and stabilize NAR for the future.” -TRACY KASPER, President, National Association of REALTORS®
MP: Can you draw upon anything from past experience that is particularly helpful in dealing with the current turmoil at NAR?
TK: In my hometown of Caldwell, Idaho, I served on the Chamber of Commerce board for nine years. As we were working to rebuild our downtown, we had a small faction that could not overlook their own personal agendas. It helped me to realize the important lesson that true leaders leave their agenda at the door and focus on the team’s success and our collective goals and objectives. We should be able to go into a room, “cuss it and discuss it,” and walk out as friends, as partners and as one united team.
“NAR’s pro-competitive, pro-consumer rules for local MLS broker marketplaces ensure equity, efficiency, transparency and market-driven pricing options for homebuyers and sellers. We look forward to presenting our case at trial.” -TRACY KASPER, President, National Association of REALTORS®
I know that’s what we can do at NAR, so to me, it’s less about my background and more about what we can accomplish as an industry and as a REALTOR® family. By working together, we can build a better association for all of our members—which, in turn, takes care of our clients and our communities. As leaders, we have a unique opportunity to shape our industry, to shape policy and legislation at every level, and to help our members transform the lives of their clients.
MP: What about the existential challenges the industry is facing as a whole? Where do you think the commission lawsuits are headed, now that two of the largest brands (at press time)—Anywhere and RE/MAX—have settled?
TK: The settlements made by Anywhere and RE/MAX do not affect NAR’s case. Settlement is always an option for any party in litigation. NAR’s pro-competitive, pro-consumer rules for local MLS broker marketplaces ensure equity, efficiency, transparency and market-driven pricing options for homebuyers and sellers. We look forward to presenting our case at trial.
MP: Then there are current economic challenges, of course. How will you and the leadership team help guide members toward success in this unpredictable economy?
TK: Education is paramount during these times to strengthen our knowledge base, adapt to current market trends and be able to guide our clients through a complicated transaction. We have so many resources available for our members. We have programs like Commitment to Excellence (C2EX), the Center for REALTOR® Financial Wellness, Right Tools Right Now (RTRN), and so much more.
I think one of the best examples of the support NAR offers to all of our members in this area can be shown through the REALTORS® Property Resource (RPR). RPR added over 10,000 new accounts this July alone, defying trends for similar platforms in the market. The release of new, cutting-edge features and products have helped to sustain that growth. RPR’s hyperlocal Shareable Market Trends feature, specifically, offers localized housing statistics and metrics that REALTORS® can easily and efficiently share with their clients, while its Market Trends Scriptwriter has helped agents quickly generate market-specific messages for consumers.
We also relaunched RTRN during the depths of the COVID-19 pandemic. In total, 1,045 unique programs and offerings are available through RTRN, with some 353,000 REALTORS® capitalizing on 1 million-plus unique RTRN offerings. These resources are cumulatively valued at over $32 million.
Finally, more than 250 micro courses and other personalized learning experiences with 1,400-plus hours of total course content are available to our members at all times, each designed to help REALTORS® serve consumers more efficiently and more practically.
MP: What’s your best advice for real estate professionals just starting out in this business?
TK: I would say, first, to always remember how real estate ownership can make a profound difference in people’s lives. I realized this firsthand when I was just 10 years old—that’s when my mom made a courageous decision to move 900 miles across two states to start a new life for herself and her four children. In two short years, she worked two jobs in order to purchase her first home. Purchasing that home gave our family greater stability, strong roots and a loving community that would raise us up in the spirit of giving back.
I learned the power of homeownership at a young age. I would urge those just starting out in our business to never forget this lesson—to never forget the influence they can have on others’ lives. And I would ask them to make an even greater difference by participating in our initiative to light the way to financial literacy for America’s young people. We are working to put a REALTOR® in every public and charter high school in America, to teach students essential financial literacy basics to set them up for success. As community leaders, we have a unique opportunity to help others realize their American Dream, and that is something we can’t take for granted.
For more information, visit https://www.nar.realtor/.