Current events around the world have elevated the conversation on race and discrimination. For those of us in the business of real estate brokerage, this is the perfect time to commit anew to provide equal real estate services to all who search for housing and seek homeownership.
This commitment to equality and fair treatment must be more than aspirational. All real estate licensees have long been legally required to uphold federal fair housing laws, which prohibit discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, and disability. Many states also have more inclusive fair housing laws – MA, ME, NH, and VT, for example, all have additional protected classes, including sexual orientation.
There is much more we can do to cultivate equality and inclusivity in our industry and in our community. Start with the following:
Know the history on a national, state, and local level. It’s important to understand illegal discriminatory practices like redlining and steering. Also take the time to research the history of your own city, state, or community relative to barriers to fair housing. Being informed and understanding this history can help us make fair housing a reality in the future.
Participate in training opportunities. Seek out local and state REALTOR® associations educational opportunities that discuss racial bias, diversity, equality, and inclusivity, as well as CE classes that provide current fair housing requirements by state.
The National Association of REALTORS® provides a range of resources, from the REALTOR® Fair Housing Declaration to the “At Home With Diversity®” (AHWD) certification which is offered online. Also, see NAR’s recently released video “Bias Override: Overcoming Barriers to Fair Housing”.
Hold yourself accountable. As a professional in the real estate industry, remember that your actions, communications, and attitude about inclusivity and equality can have a significant positive impact on your community and that honest self-assessment should be ongoing.
REALTOR® Fair Housing Declaration
Fostering Equality in the Real Estate Industry
Learning From Our Past: The History of the Fair Housing Act
Fair Housing and Property Rights: A History
How the Real Estate Industry Discriminates & What Agents Can Do to Stop It
Fair Housing Protected Classes in Maine
Fair Housing Protected Classes in Massachusetts
Fair Housing Protected Classes in New Hampshire
Fair Housing Protected Classes in Vermont