"The Ten" and a silhouette of women in an office setting.
Illustration by Lanette Behiry/Real Estate News

The Ten: NAR determined to ‘rebuild trust’ in 2024 after a year of upheaval 

The massive trade organization showed cracks in the foundation as it confronted harassment allegations from the inside and legal threats from the outside.

December 23, 2023
4 minutes

Editor's Note: In a historic year shaped by trials — of all kinds — a handful of people and themes have emerged as defining forces. Real Estate News has selected the top newsmakers of 2023 who have left a mark on the industry or shown perseverance in the face of epic challenges and opportunities. They are The Ten.

The Ten: Shakeup at NAR

The National Association of Realtors has faced unprecedented challenges this year, coming under fire in the courtroom — and within its own ranks.

The organization has been besieged from the outside, with mounting lawsuits over commissions threatening to upend long-standing policies. And within NAR, the association's leadership and culture have been forced to confront damning allegations and criticism from staff and members. 

Both types of challenges are expected to lead to fundamental changes in how the organization operates in 2024 and beyond.

Internal scandals force out top leaders

While much of the recent media attention has focused on the Sitzer/Burnett verdict, which put NAR and two other defendants on the hook for billions in damages, the association has also been dealing with its own #MeToo moment and allegations of a toxic culture uncovered by a New York Times report in August

NAR's 2023 president, Kenny Parcell, was singled out for sexual misconduct, with current and former female NAR employees accusing the leader of inappropriate behavior. Parcell announced his resignation two days after the Times' exposé was published. 

The story also highlighted allegations that sexual harassment and a "culture of fear" had permeated the association for years while leadership looked the other way, prompting some to call for the resignation of NAR CEO Bob Goldberg. In November, Goldberg stepped down from the role — more than a year earlier than previously announced — and was replaced by interim CEO Nykia Wright.

Changing the culture at NAR

As the dust settled, the association began to take some degree of responsibility. Soon after the publication of the Times story, NAR President Tracy Kasper — who took over the post following Parcell's resignation — told members in a statement that "we recognize there is so much work to be done" and that "we need to rebuild trust with staff and members with meaningful change." A week later, Kasper released a video message stating that NAR was taking concrete actions and looking at "the way that leaders are selected, the power and control that they have and how they interact with the association staff professionals."

At NAR NXT in November, Kasper acknowledged to attendees that "we have not taken the best care of our members, nor the best care of our staff." She went on to say that the association has an opportunity to change its culture and create "safe places" for members and staff to report misconduct or other concerns. She also highlighted the creation of a new cultural transformation committee within the organization. 

Moving forward, and continued scrutiny

NAR has begun implementing its Move Forward plan, which includes new procedures to handle employee and member complaints. The actions and policy recommendations behind the plan are being guided by independent outside professionals, said Mantill Williams, vice president of public relations and communication strategy at NAR.

The issues at the association also spawned the NAR Accountability Project, a campaign formed by Compass real estate broker Jason Haber and intended to help NAR members push for change.

Haber said in an email that the group continues to add members and demand changes. Currently, the project is focused on trying to get NAR to release women from non-disclosure agreements, a move which Haber says would provide more transparency.

In 2024, the group plans to push for more wholesale change in the industry. "Buckle up — if 2023 was the reckoning, in 2024 things are going to get real," Haber said.

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