How Realtors® Can Lead the Way on Fair Housing

By MNR News posted 04-28-2022 15:06

Four tactics for overcoming bias and discrimination in real estate transactions
The tenants of the Fair Housing Act are clear and direct. Realtors®, brokerages, banks, homeowners, and other entities can’t make housing unavailable to people based on their race, color, religion, sex, national origin, familial status, or disability. The National Association of Realtors® (NAR) supports the law by vigorously enforcing a related standard for professional conduct spelled out in Article 10 of the Code of Ethics.

Yet despite these well-defined “rules of the road,” discrimination continues across the housing industry. For Realtors® and brokers who want to up their game, and become leaders for advocacy and change, here are some helpful tools and resources.

Join an implicit bias workshop

Although most Realtors® strive to be fair and do their best for every client, it can be difficult to overcome implicit biases—the brain’s automatic association of stereotypes or attitudes with particular groups.

“As real estate agents, you’re often told what not to say, but you don’t necessarily know what to say,” noted Rachel Godsil, professor of law at Rutgers Law School, and co-founder and co-director of the Perception Institute, a consortium of researchers and content experts who use findings from psychology and cognitive neuroscience to help business professionals treat clients from diverse backgrounds fairly. “Biases can lead us to treat people differently based on their identity, leading to discrimination, without our even knowing it.”
During Bias Override: Overcoming Barriers to Fair Housing, a one-hour, online video workshop produced by the Perception Institute and NAR, Realtors® gain tools for overriding the effects of implicit bias, positioning them to provide equal professional service. The workshop is available free of charge to all viewers. 

Take a (virtual) trip to Fairhaven

Although you won’t find the fictional town of Fairhaven on any maps, its struggles with discrimination are very much a part of the real world. Developed by NAR, this immersive simulation challenges Realtors® to move fast, compete, and sell homes while grappling with bias and bigotry. Using real-life stories, Fairhaven’s virtual environment shows Realtors how to identify, prevent, and address discriminatory practices in real estate. All participants receive individualized feedback that will help them directly apply what they learn to their business practices. The tool is available at no charge to all NAR members. 
Visit Fairhaven: A Housing Simulation to get started. 

Keep up with Fair Housing issues on social media 

Like every other aspect of real estate, issues related to Fair Housing are always evolving and changing. On the Facebook group, Deliberately Fair Housing, you’ll find a range of enlightening perspectives from a diverse range of real estate professionals. Exploring topics like equity lending, Black homeownership, Fair Housing policies and practices, the forum encourages discussion and provides a place to share and field ideas. There is also a book club where you can participate in lively discussions of important titles like Caste: The Origin of Our Discontents and Race for Profit: How Banks and the Real Estate Industry Undermined Black Homeownership.  

To join Deliberately Fair Housing, simply answer the real-estate related question posted on the group’s member page. You can also view a series of moderated group discussions on their YouTube channel. 

Get certified in diversity 

As Minnesota’s demographics change, so do the needs of your prospective clients. NAR’s At Home with Diversity (AHWD) certification program gives you the skills and insights to bridge cultural barriers and deliver top-tier services for your diverse clientele. The one-day course can be taken in-person or online.