Preventing Unintentional Housing Discrimination in Real Estate

As Realtors, we are responsible for ensuring that our actions do not unintentionally discriminate against any individual or group. Unfortunately, unintentional discrimination can be challenging to identify and even more difficult to avoid.

Unintentional discrimination is the unintentional display of differential treatment or making a decision that has a disparate impact on a certain group of people. Unintentional discrimination is a serious issue in the real estate industry. It can have a profound impact on the person who has been discriminated against and the individual’s ability to participate in society fully. 

As Realtors, we are responsible for ensuring that our actions do not unintentionally discriminate against any individual or group. Unfortunately, unintentional discrimination can be challenging to identify and even more difficult to avoid.

One way to help reduce the risk of unintentional discrimination is to increase diversity and inclusion training for all Realtors. By increasing our understanding of the issue, we can better identify discriminatory practices. 

Unintentional discrimination in the offer process

Unintentional discrimination can appear in many forms during the transaction. Discrimination can occur when a Realtor is not willing to accept offers from potential buyers who are using the Veterans Affairs (VA) or Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loan programs. While these programs were created to help make homeownership more accessible, they often require a different approach than traditional loans. 

As a result, some Realtors may be unfamiliar with the process or hesitant to work with buyers using these programs. However, this type of discrimination can be seen as illegal and carries significant penalties. By understanding the rules and regulations governing the VA and FHA loan programs, Realtors can help to ensure that all potential buyers have an equal opportunity to purchase a home. 

The effects of unintentional discrimination on clients, agents and brokers 

Realtors are in the business of helping people find their perfect home. Sometimes, however, Realtors unintentionally discriminate against their own clients. This can happen when a Realtor shows a client homes that are outside of their budget or in a neighborhood that is not desirable. Unintentional discrimination can also occur when a Realtor only shows homes to clients who meet certain criteria, such as a certain race or ethnicity. 

While it may not be the Realtor’s intention to discriminate, this type of behavior can harm both the clients and the agents involved. It is important for Realtors to be aware of their own biases and to make sure that they are showing all of their clients homes that meet their needs and wants.

How to prevent unintentional discrimination from happening in your business 

Unintentional discrimination can happen in any business, but it is especially prevalent in the real estate industry. Realtors must be aware of how they can inadvertently discriminate against potential buyers and sellers. One way to prevent this is to avoid using stereotypes when marketing a property. 

For example, avoid using phrases like “This would be perfect for a young family” or “This is an ideal starter home.” Another way to prevent unintentional discrimination is to provide equal opportunity for all potential buyers and sellers. Ensure that you show every property to every interested party, regardless of their race, gender or nationality. 

The National Association of Realtors has an online course called “Fair Housing: It’s Your Business” that covers the topic in depth. In addition, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has a website about fair housing laws and regulations. By taking advantage of these resources, you can start to understand how to avoid unintentionally discriminating against people in the real estate industry.

Jennifer Murtland is the owner of Team Synergi – eXp Realty in Cincinnati, Ohio, and Northern Kentucky. Connect with her on Facebook or LinkedIn.





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