When Kevin Sears stepped into the role of National Association of Realtors president on Monday following Tracy Kasper’s resignation, he became the trade organization’s third president in a little over four months.
The saga of NAR’s revolving door of presidents began in late August 2023 when the New York Times published an exposé revealing what it called a “culture of fear” and widespread sexual harassment at the trade group. NAR’s then president, Kenny Parcell, a broker in Utah, was named in the Times story as a perpetrator of sexual harassment. Within days of the story’s publication Parcell announced his resignation and Tracy Kasper, who had been serving as NAR’s 2023 president-elect, was installed as the trade group’s president.
But Kasper’s turn at the helm of the 100-plus year old trade group came to an abrupt and unexpected end on Monday. In a release, NAR announced Kasper’s resignation, stating that she 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. Kasper reported the incident to law enforcement, but ultimately felt that given the circumstances it was best for the trade group that she steps down. The trade group did not disclose who allegedly made the threat or what it was
Immediately following Kasper’s resignation, NAR announced that Sears would be stepping into the role.
“While this title has come earlier than expected, please know that I am ready, willing and able to lead this association as your president,” Sears said in a video published by NAR on Thursday. “I think you will agree that our primary focus must be on furthering the business of the association which means we are fully engages on the legal, business and advocacy challenges that are top priority to you and the clients that you serve.”
Although Sears, as well as others in the industry, may be surprised to find himself in this role nearly a year prior to when his terms was slated to begin, Sears’ journey to the NAR presidency has been a long one.
A licensed agent since 1994, Sears is a second-generation real estate professional. He is currently the broker-owner of Springfield, Massachusetts-based Sears Real Estate. The firm was founded by his father Paul Sears in 1971.
Just six years after entering the industry, Sears became as member of the Massachusetts Association of Realtors (MAR) board of directors. He went on to serve as the organization’s president in 2010, in addition to serving as the president of his local Realtor organization, Realtor Association of Pioneer Valley (RAPV) in 2005.
“We are very proud of Kevin and wish him the best as he assumes the presidency at the National Association of Realtors,” Peter Ruffini, the 2024 president of RAPV, wrote in an email to HousingWire. “We believe he is ideally suited to provide stable leadership and to guide NAR through its current challenges.”
Sears has some political chops. He twice served as the Chairman of the Board of Registration of Real Estate Brokers and Salespersons in his home state of Massachusetts, having been appointed to the role in 2011 by Gov. Deval Patrick and again in 2019 by Gov. Charlie Baker.
In addition to serving his local and state Realtor organizations, Sears has served NAR in multiple roles over the years. He has been an RPAC major investor since 2004 and has twice been inducted into NAR’s RPAC Hall of Fame. Sears has also chaired many NAR committees over the course of his career, including the RPAC trustees in 2011 and 2015, the Realtor Party Trustees for State and Local Campaign Services Committee in 2013, and the Realtor Party of the Future Strategic Planning work group in 2016.
Sears jumped to higher level leadership roles within NAR in 2016, becoming NAR’s vice president for Region 1, before going on to serve as vice president of government affairs in 2017 and as the president’s liaison in 2019. In 2022, Sears’ was elected at NAR’s 2023 first vice president, putting him on the ladder to serve as NAR president in 2025.
For Sears, his term as president comes at an increasingly challenging time for the trade group. Not only is the trade group facing the back-to-back resignations of its most recent presidents and departures of long-time career staffers, but it is also dealing with a growing pile of commission lawsuits, as well as up to $5.3 billion in damages from the Sitzer/Burnett commission lawsuit trial.
Despite these hurdles, industry experts believe Sears has what it takes to lead NAR.
“Kevin is very well thought of in the Realtor community and especially at the National Association where he held many volunteer positions over the years,” Ken Trepeta, the president of RESPRO, wrote in an email. “He is a smart thoughtful leader that will serve Realtors well.”