|Fair Housing… Not Really
A recent 3-year study by Newsday uncovered discrimination by realtors who showed properties to testers who were posed as buyers. Paired testing occurs when the same realtor met first with a white buyer and then with a non-white buyer with the same financial profile and were shown different properties. Based on race testers/buyers were “steered” to different communities. It is illegal to steer the minority testers to the minority area and white testers to the white communities as well as requesting different financial conditions in order to show properties. This is in violation of the Fair Housing Act which is part of the 1968 Civil Rights Act. It is illegal to discriminate based on the basis of race, religion, creed, age, gender, ethnicity, national origin, age, source of income, disability, marriage status, being a family with children under 18 years of age, familial status, sexual orientation, citizenship or alienage status, victims of domestic violence, sexual abuse or stalking, partnership status and gender/gender identity/expression. It is illegal for realtors, advertisers, appraisers, bankers, home inspectors and anybody involved in the home buying process to discriminate. They must treat all buyers equally. This also applies to rentals, co-ops and condominiums.
A real estate professional is expected to treat everyone fairly and the same without bringing in their own biases. This means that we do not suggest that one community is more appropriate for a client over another or that they would be more “comfortable” in a particular part of a community. We have to allow our clients to choose where they want to live, not us. Furthermore discrimination is evident, although less obvious, with coops. Coop boards do not have to state why a prospectus buyer has been denied. Purchasing a coop is a function of economics and financial qualifications. It should not be whether a buyer ‘fits’ into their building. Recent changes suggest more transparency on part of the coop board. If a buyer or realtor suspects discrimination, then a report can be filed with the appropriate agency.