The National Association of Realtors' Washington, D.C. office. Photo by Elvert Barnes | CC BY 2.0/Flickr

Not quite 48 hours after a Missouri jury awarded home-sellers nearly $1.8 billion in damages in an anti-trust lawsuit against the National Association of Realtors over real estate agent commission practices, the association’s chief executive is stepping down.

CEO Bob Goldberg will retire Nov. 20 after 30 years at NAR, the association said just before noon Thursday. Former Chicago Sun-Times publisher Nykia Wright will take over as interim CEO while a search is run for a permanent leader.

Until today, Goldberg had been expected to retire in June but, as he said in a statement issued by NAR, “I determined last month that now is the right time for this extraordinary organization to look for the future.”

Current NAR President Tracy Kasper, broker-owner of Idaho-based Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Silverhawk Realty thanked Goldberg and said the association was “delighted” to welcome Wright to her new role.

“Her deep experience driving organizational transformation positions her well to advance our strategy, vision and culture initiatives. I look forward to working with her, in partnership with our Leadership Team and staff, to continue strengthening our organization,” Kasper said. “We are immensely grateful for Bob’s leadership and decades-long service to NAR. It has been a privilege to work with him in expanding and strengthening our organization, and we congratulate him on his well-deserved retirement. His contributions to our association and our industry have been tremendous.”

Wright must now determine where to take NAR in the wake of its staggering court loss in Sitzer et al. v. National Association of Realtors et al. on Tuesday. A jury awarded $1.79 billion in damages to a group of home-sellers who said NAR, local Missouri Realtor organizations and brokerage franchisors Keller Williams, HomeServices of America, Anywhere Real Estate and RE/MAX conspired to keep seller and buyer agent commissions high through NAR’s Clear Cooperation rule.

Anywhere and RE/MAX had settled with the plaintiffs in October for a mere $138.5 million combined and pledges to make a series of changes to their in-house rules around commissions and agent NAR membership requirements that would end NAR’s monopoly on how commissions are set.

Nykia Wright. Photo courtesy of the National Association of Realtors

While the judge in the case has yet to rule on the amount of damages NAR, Keller Williams and HomeServices of America will eventually owe, anti-trust law means the jury award could double or even triple. The judge is also expected to order changes in NAR’s Clear Cooperation rule, but the scope of those changes are uncertain and could range from simply allowing buyers and sellers to negotiate a buyer agent’s commission to banning the practice of commission-sharing in Missouri outright.

NAR has said it will appeal the verdict, but with another similar anti-trust lawsuit expected to go to trial next year, federal anti-trust regulators watching from the wings and a new, nation-wide anti-trust lawsuit filed by the Sitzer plaintiffs’ attorney following Tuesday’s verdict, the outcome of this case is expected to set the tempo for sweeping changes across the real estate industry.

Under Goldberg’s tenure this year, NAR has also been buffeted by a sexual harassment scandal involving the previous 2023 association president Kenny Parcell. An investigation by the New York Times alleged that Parcell harassed 29 NAR members and employees and created a sexist workplace environment and a “culture of fear” around reporting harassment incidents, and that NAR executives did not adequately respond. Parcell denies the allegations.