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NAR circa 1963 fights against federal efforts to force homeowners to sell to “Negroes”

From the NAR Archives: Daniel F. Sheehan, Sr., right, accepts the gavel symbolic of the presidency of NAREB from his predecessor, Arthur P. Wilcox Source: REALTOR'S® Headlines, (Chicago: NAR, February 4, 1963).

NAR has come a long way

The National Association of Realtors (NAR), formerly known as the National Association of Real Estate Brokers (NAREB) since its inception has reflected the will of its overall membership through committees and votes on particular regulations internally and politically.

Several of our readers have been licensed since the above photo was taken while others were not even alive yet. As a child of the 80s, it is hard for me to understand a world where regulations exist against races, but anyone reading regardless of age does know intimately a world where sexuality is not a protected class.

Last year, the NAR amended Article 10 of the Code of Ethics to include sexual orientation as a protected class which is what 93% of members who voted wanted. NAR has come such a long way, giving us hope that even more progress will be made over the years.

Realtors Announce Race Code

From the June 14, 1963 St. Petersburg Times:

WASHINGTON- The National Association of Real Estate Boards objected yesterday to any state or federal effort to force property owners to sell to Negroes against their will.

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Speaking for its 74,000 members and 1,455 local boards, the association restated its traditional position that if a property owner objects to selling to a Negro, it isn’t up to the realtor to try to change his mind.

This was in a series of major policy statements adopted by the association board of directors in connection with a “property owners” bill of rights.

REACTING to growing pressure by the federal government and many states for an end to color bars in housing, the national organization of real estate brokers said:

“Realtors may properly oppose any attempt by force of law to withdraw from property owners the right freely to determine with whom they will deal with respect to their property irrespective of the reason therefore…”

President Kennedy’s executive order on housing last fall, for the most part, didn’t affect the area where realtors mainly operate – resale of houses by private owners.

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IT AFFECTED primarily the initial sale of federally financed or insured housing.

However, an association spokesman said there is a growing concern among members that state laws soon will enter this field. He said a New York law which goes into effect soon applies to the resale of private residences.

The new policy statement by the association didn’t back off from the position stated earlier this year in a new volume of the organization’s code of ethics that it is permissible for a relator to make a sale to a Negro in a white neighborhood.

It repeated the view that “each realtor should feel completely free to enter into a broker-client relatinoship with persons of any race, creed, or ethnic group.”

However, it said realtors, as agents of the property owners, “have no right or responsibility to determine the racial, credal, or ethnic composition of any area or neighborhood.”

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Where were you in 1963?

Do you remember 1963? Do you remember a world where NAR (NAREB) would fight against a racial issue that now seems so ridiculous? Tell us in comments where you were in 1963, otherwise, tell us what you think of NAR’s progress.

Lani is the COO and News Director at The American Genius, has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH, Austin Digital Jobs, Remote Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.



  1. patrick figueroa

    February 6, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    Can anyone tell me why as Real Estate Pros we are forced to become members of the nar I do not know any Agent that walked up to the window and joined freely we are all coerced otherwise we will not have the key for access to listings. How can this be a legitimate organization? code of ethics!!!!

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