The chief executive of the National Association of Realtors resigned from his post two days after a federal jury ruled that the powerful organization conspired to inflate home commissions.
The resignation of Bob Goldberg was announced at a closed-door staff meeting, as leaders scrambled to address the outcry that has followed the fallout from the legal verdict. N.A.R. and several brokerages were ordered to pay damages of at least $1.8 billion to home sellers who said they were forced to pay excessive fees to real estate agents. N.A.R. said it plans to appeal.
Mr. Goldberg, 66, was a longtime N.A.R. employee who first joined the organization in 1995 and had served as chief executive since 2017. He had previously planned to retire at the end of 2024, but had faced calls for his immediate resignation since August, when The New York Times published an article showing that the organization was rife with complaints of harassment and discrimination from multiple women. Some Realtors said he had failed to address complaints for years.
The sudden exit was not related to either the organization’s legal woes or the trail of sexual harassment allegations, Mantill Williams, a spokesman for N.A.R., said in a phone interview on Thursday.
In a statement distributed by the organization, Mr. Goldberg said, “After announcing my decision to retire earlier this year, and as I reflected on my 30 years at N.A.R., I determined last month that now is the right time for this extraordinary organization to look to the future.”
Nykia Wright, 44, former chief executive of the Chicago Sun-Times who helped spearhead that publication’s digital strategy, will step into Mr. Goldberg’s role as an interim chief executive. She is an outsider to the industry who does not hold a real estate license. She could not immediately be reached for comment.
The National Association of Realtors, the largest professional organization in the United States, wields immense power over the U.S. housing industry and even owns the trademark to the word “Realtor.” To gain access to nearly all American home listings and call themselves Realtors, its 1.5 million members each pay hundreds of dollars in annual dues. N.A.R. is a nonprofit that holds more than $1 billion in assets and also operates RPAC, a political action committee that is, according to Open Secrets, the number one political fund-raising organization in the country. In the 2022 election cycle, the committee raised more than $80 million for both Democratic and Republican candidates.
But some Realtors and homeowners have questioned the organization’s grip on the industry — a monopoly at the heart of the antitrust lawsuit filed by home sellers in U.S. District Court in Missouri. In a landmark ruling, a jury determined that N.A.R. and several large brokerages conspired to enforce a N.A.R. rule that requires home sellers to pay commissions to the agent representing the buyer, resulting in sellers paying what they described as excessive fees. The decision has the potential to rewrite the entire structure of the real estate industry in the United States, lowering the cost of moving homes by reducing commissions.
Mr. Goldberg’s resignation marks yet another major shift in leadership. Kenny Parcell, N.A.R.’s former president and the focus of many of the allegations, stepped down two days after the Times exposé.
Multiple women said they had been harassed or subjected to inappropriate conduct by Mr. Parcell, as well as other leaders at N.A.R., according to interviews, a lawsuit and an internal report. Mr. Parcell, 50, denied the accusations in written responses to The Times, and continued to deny them even as he stepped down.
Realtors took to online forums to criticize the organization, often putting blame squarely on Mr. Goldberg. One agent, Jason Haber, created an online petition demanding Mr. Goldberg leave his post. (Tax filings show his annual salary was more than $2.5 million.) The petition currently has more than 1,000 signatures; others presented an anonymous letter in September urging him to go.
Mr. Haber, a real estate agent with Compass, and Danielle Garofalo, a marketing and branding consultant, founded the N.A.R. Accountability Project, which since this summer has made several demands of the organization. Mr. Goldberg and Mr. Parcell’s resignations were among them. The project’s final demand is that the many women who signed nondisclosure agreements after reporting sexual harassment at the organization would be released from those pacts; Ms. Garofalo said in a phone interview Thursday that she is now hopeful the organization will answer that call as well.
“Over the past several weeks we’ve seen the worst of N.A.R., and now our hope is that the new chief executive can bring out the best of it,” Ms. Garofalo said. “We feel hopeful. This is about the women — all those victims of sexual harassment. To hear them feel a sense of relief has been our purpose.”
For the women who spoke out about the organization’s history of sexual harassment, the decision to tap Ms. Wright was a step in the right direction.
“I feel hopeful with this announcement,” said Jennifer Braun, N.A.R.’s senior events producer, who came forward in an interview with The Times in August to describe multiple uncomfortable, sexually harassing encounters she had experienced with Mr. Parcell at work.
“We affected change by coming forward. I feel like finally some good decisions are being made to help us move forward,” she said.