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Real Estate and Civil Rights Are Closer Than We Think
February 9, 2021

Real Estate and Civil Rights Are Closer Than We Think

by The CE Shop Team

Equality and Real Estate Go Hand in Hand

From the hard-fought Battle of Shiloh in 1862 to the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at the Lorraine Motel in 1968 — which plenty of people alive today still remember — the state of Tennessee has experienced its fair share of struggle in the fight for equal rights. However, the Volunteer State has also been a stage; not just for the soul-soothing Blues on Beale or the twangy sounds of Nashville, but for Americans who wanted to show the world that they will never give up on what is right, even if the fight spans well over a century. That fight, along with others, has led to advancements like the Fair Housing Act which positively affects all of us, especially real estate professionals, to this day.

The Fair Housing Act

If you’re new to the game, the Fair Housing Act is part of The Civil Rights Act of 1968, and it states:

“It is illegal to discriminate in the sale or rental of housing, including against individuals seeking a mortgage or housing assistance, or in other housing-related activities. The Fair Housing Act prohibits this discrimination because of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, and disability.”

Why That’s So Important

Civil rights and real estate have a much closer relationship than many of us realize. Where people live has a lot to do with their access to education, economic opportunities, quality health care, and infrastructure.

Meanwhile, access to lending allows individuals and families to purchase property, build equity, and lend against that equity if need be. Along with property value appreciation, these factors play a vital role in building wealth and promoting economic equality.

In his film Segregated by Design, Richard Rothstein, a Distinguished Fellow of the Economic Policy Institute and a Senior Fellow (emeritus) at the Thurgood Marshall Institute of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, attributes racially-biased housing policy to much of the economic disparity we see today, further proving how critical real estate is in the bigger picture of equality.

“African American families that were prohibited from buying homes in the suburbs in the 1940s and ‘50s, and even into the 1960s, by the Federal Housing Administration gained none of the equity appreciation that Whites gained,” Rothstein says.

Memphis is undoubtedly a significant city in Black history, but it still suffers from many of these economic consequences today. It’s a subject that director Jordan Danelz and producer Benjamin Rednour explore in one of their latest films, In the Absence.

Why Civil Rights Are Important for Real Estate Professionals

Real estate is a people business. As an agent, you get to play a direct role in helping someone gain access to the aforementioned benefits of real estate, such as building generational wealth. By upholding and championing these rights, you increase your potential client base, help preserve the home values around Tennessee, and maintain your status as a hero of your community.

That said, all agents should be mindful of racial steering. Not only is this behavior illegal, but if agents are steering people away from certain areas based on race, that can unjustly devastate property values.

Educate & Uphold

We understand that Civil Rights can be a difficult topic, especially because the issue of true equality has been unresolved since the founding of our nation, and many major advancements took place in recent history. .

As you know, the fight for equality continues to this day. If you would like to learn more about how you can help or want to gain a better understanding of Civil Rights as a whole, we highly recommend visiting the National Civil Rights Museum right here in Memphis - and keep making real estate for everybody.

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