Industry Mourns Death of Ken Harney

The real estate columnist had a career that spanned more than four decades.

May 24, 2019

On Thursday, the real estate industry lost one of its most prolific and celebrated writers. Ken Harney, of Chevy Chase, Md., a nationally syndicated columnist with The Washington Post Writers Group, died Thursday morning from acute myeloid leukemia. He was 75.

Harney’s column, the “Nation’s Housing,” was carried by online media and newspapers across the country. Though his column didn’t always align with the National Association of REALTORS®’ way of thinking, Harney remained widely regarded within the industry for his ability to cut through complexity and deliver consumers a straight account of everything from economic and tax policy to the effects of technological disruption on real estate sales and finance.

"I’ve known of him for 35 years, since my days on the Hill,” says NAR Vice President of Federal Policy and Industry Relations Joe Ventrone, who called Harney a friend. “I read him every Saturday in The Washington Post real estate section, and when I didn’t agree with something he wrote, I called and yelled at him.”

Harney wrote his column for more than four decades and received many awards for his work, including the Consumer Federation of America's Betty Furness Consumer Media Service Award for “invaluable and unique contributions to the advancement of consumer housing interests.” 

In addition to writing a column, Harney wrote two books on mortgage finance and real estate. He was a former president and chairman of the National Association of Real Estate Editors and served a three-year term on the Federal Reserve Board’s Consumer Advisory Council (now the Community Advisory Council), which offers the Fed a view into the economic circumstances and financial services needs of consumers and communities. 

Harney is survived by his wife, Andrea Leon Harney, and four grown children. Harney’s illness required him to receive many blood transfusions, and his wife has asked friends, in lieu of flowers, to consider donating blood or finding “another way to make another person’s life a little better.”