California REALTORS® Seek to Mitigate Inequality in Housing
The housing industry has a long and ugly history of racial bias. In fact, between damaging and discriminatory housing practices like redlining and racial steering, generations of minorities have been systematically barred from achieving the dream of homeownership in California and beyond. Unfortunately, these issues remain pervasive today. To combat low rates of minority homeownership, the California Association of REALTORS® (C.A.R.) unveiled a bundle of Fair Housing and Equity legislation that has the association’s strong support. We’ll break down the basics of this legislation and what these laws would mean for California real estate agents.
What Is Fair Housing?
Simply put, federal, state, and local Fair Housing laws dictate that 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.
The Fair Housing Act has become one of our country's greatest achievements, paving the way for equality for all when it comes to purchasing, selling, and renting properties. Working as a real estate agent, it is your duty to treat each and every lead and client the same. Doing so leads to a more fair society from which everyone benefits.
C.A.R.’s New Fair Housing and Equity Legislative Package
In support of Fair Housing and access to homeownership for everyone, C.A.R. recently released the list of housing laws that have earned its support. The policies included seek to address California’s dangerously low levels of home availability and affordability, increase housing supply, and reform the state’s Fair Housing rules and regulations. The legislature also seeks to remedy the systemic inequalities, specifically when it comes to homeownership, that Black and Indigenous people of color (BIPOC) face in California and beyond.
A recent C.A.R. report illustrated just how critical these policies have become. In 2020, the percentage of White Californians who earned enough to purchase the state’s median-priced home was nearly double the percentage of Black Californians who could afford the same. These figures are the result of racist housing policies and practices that stretch back to slavery and now include redlining, racial steering, and more.
In the midst of this systematic exclusion, REALTORS® have often been left to fight for equity on an individual basis without the support of large-scale reform. C.A.R. hopes that these policies can change that.
“REALTORS® are on the front lines fighting to overcome California’s housing supply and affordability crisis, which includes ensuring fair housing opportunities for all people,” said Dave Walsh, C.A.R. President. “This California Association of REALTORS® legislative package is a critical first step in what must be an ongoing effort to eliminate discrimination and other barriers that have historically prevented so many families from realizing the economic and societal benefits that housing provides.”
What This Legislation Means for California Agents
If C.A.R.’s supported legislation is enacted, implicit bias training could be required for agents, discriminatory language could be scrubbed from property records, individuals residing in affordable housing could see expanded protections, and much more. Whether you belong to the California Association of REALTORS® or not, you may want to familiarize yourself with the proposed rules and regulations.
With change on the horizon, there’s also no better time to become an advocate in your community. Work to recognize and shed your own racial biases, volunteer, donate, and be sure to report any discrimination you may come across in the field. After all, securing universal equity in homeownership will take all of us!