Commissions battle ‘far from over’ says NAR president
During her NAR NXT keynote, Tracy Kasper tackled the big issues facing the association, including the Sitzer/Burnett verdict and sexual harassment accusations.
ANAHEIM, Calif. — The National Association of Realtors has been embattled in recent months, but NAR president Tracy Kasper wasted no time addressing the major hurdles facing the organization during her keynote speech at the NAR NXT conference on Tuesday in Anaheim.
The recent Sitzer/Burnett verdict, allegations of sexual harassment at NAR and the financial wellbeing of the association's members were three of the topics Kasper touched on.
The post-verdict plan: "Let's start with what is on the forefront of everyone's mind, and that's the legal cases that NAR is a party to," Kasper told the packed convention room. "As you all know, on October 31, that Tuesday will be a Tuesday that none of us will ever forget."
However, despite a jury ruling against NAR last month, Kasper told the audience that the legal battle is "far from over." The organization will continue to fight the case through appeals, and NAR will also keep advocating for the inclusion of compensation details in MLS listings.
"I want you to know that NAR remains unwavering in including the offer of compensation in the detailed information that's included in our MLSs to ensure that we have efficient, transparent and equitable marketplaces," Kasper said, adding that this was "more about our consumer than it is about us."
Rooting out bad behavior: "We know that we have not taken the best care of our members, nor the best care of our staff," Kasper said to the crowd, referencing the allegations of harassment and a "culture of fear" within NAR.
Kasper said NAR has created new channels for staff to report misconduct and appointed outside counsel to review the organization's existing policies and procedures in an effort to help ensure that reports are handled responsibly.
"We have an opportunity right now … to change our culture — to give those safe places where our members can let us know when something has happened with our NAR staff," Kasper said. "Because what we have discovered is that we have not created those places before."
Additionally, NAR has formed a "cultural transformation committee," Kasper noted, composed of 75 people including "members, staff on local and state level, our government affairs director, our communications directors, anyone who interfaces with our members," as well as NAR staff who "self selected" to participate in the committee.
"We are having the tough conversations," Kasper said. "And I'm here to tell you that while it hurts and we're hearing about the harassment, the bullying and the retaliation, that we will not stand for that."
A focus on financial stability: With the real estate market in flux, Kasper encouraged NAR members to take advantage of the association's financial programs. "We know that as we're heading into these different markets we're all experiencing that we need to be able to ensure our financial future, and we don't need to just keep working because we have to plan for retirement," Kasper said.
"So if you go to the financial wellness program with NAR, you are going to find a very robust portal where you can work through the system for budgeting and planning and preparing for investment opportunities," she said. "For us, the idea is that we want to make sure that our members are as financially stable as possible to be able to go through these ebbs and flows of an already different market that we're experiencing."