Racial Bias in Real Estate Is a Systemic Issue That Needs to Be Stopped
Real estate agents have always been considered a crucial member to their surrounding community. They are the ones who help families find their perfect home while connecting them to the town through their own networks and partnerships. This makes them a trustworthy guide and community leader. And as such, they must uphold their position by treating everyone equally and respectfully.
Race has been a determining factor of how we structure our communities for hundreds of years. Certain activities like racial steering not only limit people from enjoying the same rights and privileges as others but also hinder a community’s growth and diversity. It wasn’t until the introduction of the Fair Housing Act in 1968 that things began to change.
What is Fair Housing
The Fair Housing Act is one of the most progressive collection of laws ever enacted in the history of the United States. These protective measures were put in place to prevent discrimination and establish equality for everyone. Some of these laws include:
- Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968
- Jones v. Alfred H. Mayer Co., 1968
- Housing and Community Development Act of 1974
- Fair Housing Amendment Act of 1988
What Does the Fair Housing Act Mean?
Simply put, you cannot discriminate against anyone due to any certain characteristics or personal bias. Here are some examples of what this means in relation to real estate:
- Lying to a client based on discriminatory biases, such as saying a home is not for sale when it actually is
- Unlawful altering of the terms and conditions for a home purchase or loan
- Blatant discrimination in your business practice, advertising, or marketing
- Refusal to rent, sell, or negotiate based on discriminatory biases
These are not all the examples that are covered by the Fair Housing Act but should function as an obvious guide for conducting your real estate business.
Four Ways Agents Can Shed Their Racial Bias
Shedding your racial biases is not something to be taken lightly. It is your ethical duty to treat everyone the same, regardless of who they are, where they come from, and their background. However obvious this may seem, you still need to stay informed and reassess your own perspective to make sure you are creating a hospitable and fair environment for all. When observing your own actions and practices, make sure to consider these four items when shedding or preventing racial bias:
Treat Everyone Equal
As a practicing agent, you should be treating everyone equally. It is not only your duty as an agent but a necessary practice that is promised by our governing laws. And besides the Constitution, it’s the right thing to do. At the end of the day, we all desire the same thing. These similarities are what make us human and are exactly why all agents should treat their clients as such.
Avoid Racial Steering
The act of racial steering can be defined as “the practice in which real estate brokers guide prospective home buyers towards or away from certain neighborhoods based on their race.” Instead of following this heinous behavior, find homes based on wants and needs and not based on the color of their skin. In turn, this will lead to long-term changes in creating a diverse community that betters how we see ourselves and our neighbors.
Consider Your Marketing
Many times - and usually by accident - an agent’s marketing messaging and practices sometimes exclude certain groups. Make sure to reassess your marketing practices and that they are correctly targeting a group based on psychographics and not based on their background. You should even consider your imagery and make sure it represents different races and ethnicities.
See Something, Say Something
If you see or know that a fellow colleague is engaging in racial steering, you have an ethical obligation to report their behavior. By reporting on these malicious actions, you too can help bridge the gap for equality in real estate.
Ending systemic racism from real estate requires making a conscious decision to treat everyone as they are: Human Beings. As leaders of communities, real estate agents must take the responsibility of leading by example by providing impartial services and support to everyone. Once all agents do this, they’ll create a more fair and equal world within the real estate industry.
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