Kenny Parcell’s journey to become president of the National Association of REALTORS® was an unexpected one that started with a challenging experience buying his first home.
As a 22-year-old, newly married student at Brigham Young University, Parcell decided to buy a home rather than rent.
“We only qualified for six homes in the county,” recalls Parcell, 2023 NAR president. When the agent wrote up a full-price offer, “I said, ‘I’ve been doing some reading. Could we ask the sellers to pay closing costs and come down on the price?’”
The agent, who was a licensee but not a REALTOR®, said she didn’t have time to rewrite the contract and Parcell would have to make the changes.
“So, I rewrote my own contract, and the offer was accepted,” he says. “I had no experience; I didn’t know what to ask for. There were no seller’s disclosures, no home warranty, no home inspection.”
After closing, Parcell and his wife, Heather, walked into their home and discovered the seller had replaced the white refrigerator with a green one that didn’t work. The seller had also removed the kitchen cabinets, air conditioner, and garage door.
“We called the agent and said, ‘We have a problem.’” Parcell says. “She said, ‘I don’t have a problem. You have a problem. I’ve already been paid, and I didn’t make very much. You’re on your own.’”
For six months, the couple stored food in camping coolers until they could afford a refrigerator.
After that experience, Parcell saw a classified ad that said, “Don’t be a Licensee. Be a REALTOR®. There’s a Difference.” He took the classes and got his license, not to become a working real estate professional but to avoid the pitfalls of his first home purchase. “I wasn’t thinking career at that point,” Parcell recalls. “I just wanted to get educated.”
He wrote about the experience for a family science class. To his surprise, he got a call from his professor. She needed to sell her house and asked him to list it. That sale led to referrals. In the first year, he says, he sold 15 houses—many to clients who didn’t realize he was still in college as a full-time student.
By the time Parcell earned a business degree in 1998, he was a top-performing agent. In 2001, REALTOR® Magazine named him to its second “30 Under 30” class. Over 25 years, he has sold more than 3,200 homes. He is now the broker-owner of Equity Real Estate where he leads the Kenny Parcell Team, a six-person real estate team serving buyers and sellers in the Spanish Fork, Utah, area.
Our theme is not riding for the brand but rather with the brand, because our members are the brand, and the brand means something to all of us. It’s bigger than the organization or any one person. It represents the very best of people who truly love our communities and the people who live in them.
Meeting the Moment
As Parcell takes on the role of NAR president, higher mortgage rates have taken a toll on his market and many others throughout the country. Like so many agents, he says, he’s confronting these challenges each day.
“I’ve been doing this long enough that I’ve been through some challenging markets,” he said in a recent interview with Jared Lloyd for the Daily Herald, a Provo, Utah, newspaper. “I’m still in the business. My kids like to eat year-round, so I’m out there hustling every day. Every member can know that their president is going through the same things they are.”
Parcell advises agents who’ve never been through a downturn to “always strive to be improving. Be better today than you were yesterday and better tomorrow than you were today. It’s better to be prepared for an opportunity than have an opportunity show up and you’re not prepared.”
Every NAR member should know that they are valued and that their challenges are recognized at the national level, he says.
“From the moment I first talked to [Kenny], he said, ‘The focus is on members, understanding what they’re looking for and answering their needs—and always leading with kindness,’ ” says Nashville, Tenn., broker Kristi Hairston, ePRO, SFR, who serves on Parcell’s extended leadership team as the liaison to REALTOR® Party Fundraising.
That is why he launched his presidency with a 50-state motorcoach tour, “Riding with the Brand.” At tour stops, NAR leaders are engaging with their elected officials, community members, and REALTORS®, to showcase the REALTOR® difference and the value of the REALTOR® brand.
The Riding with the Brand theme harkens back to a tradition in the Old West.
“When cowboys rode for a brand, it meant they had signed on to the mission, goals and aims of the ranch owner,” Parcell says. “It also meant they promised to protect the brand as though it were their own.
“Our theme is not riding for the brand but rather with the brand, because our members are the brand, and the brand means something to all of us. It’s bigger than the organization or any one person. It represents the very best of people who truly love our communities and the people who live in them.”
A Strong Foundation
Parcell’s success in business and association leadership is the result of determination and a strong work ethic. His parents, Kenny “Rexy” and Carolyn Parcell, helped him develop these traits at an early age.
When he was 7 years old, Parcell made his county’s all-star baseball team. His parents were working and unable to take him to practices, so he had to figure out how to make the 12-mile trek to get there.
“I got on my BMX bike, put my glove on the handlebars and rode all the way on my own because I wanted to be on that team so badly,” Parcell told the Daily Herald. “I had a specific route that I would come home so if my mom or dad got done with work, they would know where to find me to pick me up.”
Parcell’s parents were hard-working and did a variety of jobs to make ends meet. Although they never graduated from high school, they encouraged him to push himself to overcome any disadvantages in his life.
“I can still remember my mom telling me, ‘Kenny, you have athletic ability, but if you’re not twice as good and twice as nice—and if you don’t work twice as hard—you won’t play,’” Parcell says. “I knew I could be twice as nice and work twice as hard, and I always had that in the back of my mind.”
Each day, Carolyn Parcell asked her son if he’d given his best. In high school, he had good grades, lettered in four sports, and was recruited by university baseball and football programs. Before enrolling in college, he devoted two years to a church mission in Tennessee.
He entered Brigham Young University in 1994 with a football scholarship and two goals: graduate and build a solid financial foundation. When he graduated in 1998, he says, he had 35 job offers and a thriving real estate business.
Parcell’s mom died in 1999 at the age of 47, but he says he still hears her voice in his head every day, asking if he’s given his best.
Rexy Parcell says his son has more than met that test. “She would be so proud of Kenny,” he says.
Principles to Live By
Parcell’s life and leadership philosophy are centered around principles he calls “the five L’s”: legacy, laugh, love, learn, and lead.