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Fair Housing News

Equipping Members to End Bias- REALTOR AE Magazine

Newsday’s investigative report on the residential real estate industry, published last November, was shocking. The newspaper’s three-year study uncovered evidence that brokers and agents subjected minority customers to different treatment from white customers in 40% of agent-customer interactions.

Agents take prelicense training, do continuing education, and study fair housing law. Most agents believe they treat customers fairly and say they’ve never witnessed discrimination in real estate. So where’s the disconnect?

Part of the answer is that discrimination can happen without our knowing it.

As part of its ACT Fair Housing Action Plan, the National Association of REALTORS® teamed with the Perception Institute to create an online workshop that helps REALTORS® understand how implicit bias may enter into business transactions. The 54-minute video, “Bias Override: Overcoming Barriers to Fair Housing,” explains the cognitive processes that can lead to hidden biases and result in disparate treatment.

“Nothing is more important than helping people feel like they are being treated fairly when finding a new home,” says Rachel D. Godsil, the Perception Institute’s co-founder and co-director. Read more...

Steer Clear of "Steering"

“Steering” is the practice of influencing a buyer’s choice of communities based upon one of the protected characteristics under the Fair Housing Act, which are race, color, religion, gender, disability, familial status, or national origin. Steering occurs, for example, when real estate agents do not tell buyers about available properties that meet their criteria, or express views about communities, with the purpose of directing buyers away from or towards certain neighborhoods due to their race or other protected characteristic. If a client requests a “nice,” “good,” or “safe” neighborhood, a real estate professional could unintentionally steer a client by excluding certain areas based on his or her own perceptions of what those terms means.

Despite being illegal under the Fair Housing Act, a recent investigation conducted by the newspaper Newsday has shown that steering continues to be pervasive. Newsday had real estate agents show properties to one white tester and one minority tester (either African American, Hispanic, or Asian) with similar housing needs and financial capabilities. The investigation revealed that in 24% of cases, the real estate agents directed the white tester into differing communities from the minority testers, suggesting evidence of steering.

The following best practices will help you steer clear of steering:

  • Provide clients with listings based on their objective criteria alone.
  • When a client uses vague terms such as “nice,” “good,” or “safe,” ask impartial questions to clarify their criteria, such as property features and price point.
  • Only communicate objective information about neighborhoods and direct clients to third-party sources with neighborhood-specific information.
  • Learn to pay attention to your unconscious biases. When evaluating what a client objectively wants, ask yourself why you have eliminated certain areas, if you have.

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Get Answers to COVID-19 Concerns Related to the Fair Housing Act
Wondering if COVID-19 qualifies as a disability under the Fair Housing Act? Can you ask consumers to answer questions about their health before working with them? Check out this guidance to help you answer questions on these issues.

COVID-19 presents a number of novel legal issues, including how members must navigate their fair housing duties during the pandemic. Given that COVID-19 may be disabling, in the short-term and long-term, and can even cause death, members wonder whether COVID-19 is a “disability” entitled to protection under the Fair Housing Act, despite the dangers its highly-contagious nature poses to others. Members also wonder whether they may ask individuals to complete a COVID-19 screening questionnaire prior to engaging in in-person operations with that individual. NAR recommends the following in response to those questions.. Read more...

Bias Override: Overcoming Barriers to Fair Housing (click on the picture below)


 The mind science experts at the Perception Institute present an online workshop to help members avoid implicit bias in their daily business interactions. Drawing upon the latest evidence-based research, Perception explains how our brains’ automatic, instant association of stereotypes with particular groups can cause us to treat those who are different from us unfairly, despite our best intentions and often without our conscious awareness. Perception then applies these concepts to the everyday work of REALTORS®, and offers strategies to override bias in order to convey respect, ensure fairness, and improve business relationships.

Want to go deeper? Take the Implicit Bias test, and watch for future offerings from Perception and NAR.

2006 RMO antiracism

Taking Action to Make Your Business Anti-Racist
Brokers and association leaders mobilize to address racial injustices in communities around America.

June 15, 2020
by Erica Christoffer, Graham Wood

Is it the real estate community’s place to lead conversations about racism and inequality? The Kentucky REALTORS® organization recently pondered that question and decided that after association leaders received letters from members who expressed deep pain over the death of George Floyd, it had a responsibility to step forward.

Kentucky REALTORS® held a virtual town hall June 4 called “A Conversation on Race,” which centered around the experiences of Black members, the meaning of the racial justice movement Black Lives Matter, and questions from brokers interested in becoming more intentionally anti-racist.

“We asked ourselves if we were getting out of our lane,” says Kentucky REALTORS® President Lester Sanders, who is Black. “But if part of our REALTOR® family is hurting and we don’t say anything, then I don’t know that we’re the right leaders. We’re leaders in our communities, so how can we sit silent?” Read More...


Although consumers are eager for physical home tours and open houses to resume, it’s important to know what COVID-19 restrictions remain in place in your state. In the latest video from NAR’s “Pivot in Place” series, Lesley Muchow, NAR’s deputy general counsel and vice president of legal affairs, discusses your legal duties to keep clients safe during the course of real estate transactions and best practices for mitigating your risk. Our article on how brokers are reopening responsibly and NAR’s workplace re-entry checklist are other great sources on this topic. In addition, NAR is working with two of the country’s leading experts in public opinion to bring you detailed guidance on meeting consumers’ expectations with regard to COVID-19.

Remember to keep fair housing in mind as you navigate the reopening of your business. For residential investment property owners and managers, NAR’s legal team is recommending accommodations for those who may be experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. And since we’re commemorating Homeownership Month, now is a good time not only to review all your obligations under the Fair Housing Act but also to push yourself toward a greater understanding of your own hidden biases. To that end, NAR has worked with the Perception Institute to create a new training video, “Bias Override: Overcoming Barriers to Fair Housing.” The video explains how our brains’ associations with stereotypes can cause us to treat people unfairly—even if we have good intentions. The latest issue of REALTOR® Magazine also includes guidance on avoiding implicit bias.

Window Into The Law FairHousing

The Fair Housing Act is more than do’s and don’ts, rights and penalties. Fair Housing protects your business as real estate professionals who depend on a free, open market with equal opportunity. In this video, get the tips and tools you need now to understand and comply with this important law.

We ecourage all of our members to watch N.A.R.'s Video, Window to the Law: Fair Housing Udate.

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