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Is sexual orientation discrimination in housing legal? Maybe.

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Can landlords legally deny renting to a gay couple because they’re gay? Can a Realtor refuse to negotiate on behalf of a transgendered woman because she’s transgendered? Can a builder jack up the price of a home when selling to a bisexual male because they know he’s bisexual? Maybe- there’s a little bit of a grey area here.

If you’re a licensed Realtor, you should have memorized the Fair Housing laws prohibiting discrimination against anyone based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status or handicap. But nowhere in there does it mention sexual orientation.

According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, laws are different from state to state and in some it is most certainly illegal for the real estate industry to discriminate, but in some states, the GLBTQ community is still legally discriminated against and refused real estate services and equal housing opportunities.

To go above and beyond local, state and national laws, Realtors have always upheld the National Association of Realtors’ Code of Ethics wherein Article 10 outlines the “Duties to the Public” which reflects the national Fair Housing law that forbids denying services for reasons of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status or handicap. Nowhere in the code are Realtors required to serve anyone with sexual orientation disagreeable to them. Until now…

According to the NAR, the Code of Ethics Article 10 has been amended:
Article 10: Equal Rights Amendment Passes:
The NAR Delegate Body approved an amendment to Article 10 of the Code of Ethics to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. In a roll-call vote, more than 93 percent of the Delegate Body voted in favor of the amendment. The Delegate Body decision confirms a vote by the Board of Directors in May.

As a personal note, AG strongly supports and applauds the measure taken that Realtors’ ethics supersede federal law so that no matter if it is legal or not locally, discrimination based on sexual orientation will not be tolerated from Realtors, a measure taken by Realtors. This amendment however will come with some possibly negative ramifications which we will be discussing in the future.

We believe housing to be a basic human right that no one should be denied and we are astonished that anyone (especially the 7% that voted against the Article 10 amendment) would find it necessary to discriminate because of sexual orientation and we hope HUD follows in NAR’s footsteps in this case.

Lani is the Chief Operating Officer at The American Genius - she has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH and Austin Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

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13 Comments

13 Comments

  1. Daniel Bates

    November 9, 2010 at 2:15 pm

    I’m more worried “they” will get word of this and create “gay only” housing with better amenities, jobs, schools, etc and exclude us from joining. :-p

    • Sheila Wall Bell

      November 9, 2010 at 7:29 pm

      If ratified in May that would be a flagrant violation of the COE and likely would be dealt with strongly by most local associations given the 93% support.

  2. Nathan Hughes

    November 9, 2010 at 2:17 pm

    Thank you for reporting on this important issue! I had no idea this amendment was even up for voting, but I’m glad to hear that it went through.

    If the legislators aren’t going to do what’s right, then I’m glad that we can implement these changes amongst our own Code of Ethics to make a difference.

    It is times like this that especially make me proud to be a Realtor.

  3. Don Fabrizio-Garcia

    November 9, 2010 at 3:10 pm

    It’s about time, NAR. It is 2010, after all.
    I read a few months ago that HUD is currently investigating whether gays are discriminated against, which I understood to mean is the first step in determining whether gays should be considered a protected class and therefore protected by Federal Fair Housing laws.

  4. Sheila Rasak

    November 9, 2010 at 5:20 pm

    I look foward with full cooperation to the addenums that will follow for this this important issue!

  5. Francces Flynn Thorsen

    November 9, 2010 at 6:21 pm

    This amendment was long overdue.

    Congress can amend Fair Housing Law. HUD cannot do that. HUD is an agency … HUD can issue guidelines, it cannot mandate law. It enforces Fair Housing Law, it cannot create the law.

    There are state and county and municipalities across the country who have done the right thing, established sexual orientation as a protected class.

    Let’s see the Federal Government do likewise.

    • Sheila Wall Bell

      November 9, 2010 at 7:32 pm

      FFT: Totally agree-as (almost) usual! 😎 I am so proud-93% approval! WOW

      • Francces Flynn Thorsen

        November 10, 2010 at 8:08 am

        NAR is following HUD’s lead, actually. Last year HUD suggested Congress add an amendment to the Fair Housing Law …

        francesflynnthorsen.posterous.com/realtor-gay-discrimination-initiative-paralle

  6. Linsey Planeta

    November 9, 2010 at 11:23 pm

    I would be doing backflips if I didn’t think it was so long overdue. But I’m thrilled nonetheless.

  7. Bryan Thompson

    November 10, 2010 at 9:18 am

    Lani, I agree that it’s about time this amendment went through. It isn’t everything, but it is a step in the right direction. Regardless of someone’s political or religious ideology, it’s never right to deny someone a place to live. Good thoughts here!

  8. Ken Montville

    November 10, 2010 at 10:22 am

    This is a wonderful thing but, unfortunately, mostly symbolic. Enforcement of the COE is so rare as to be almost non-existent. Good intentions, for sure. Practical application? Not so much.

  9. Diana Hoyt

    November 10, 2010 at 2:30 pm

    New Hampshire fair housing laws go above the federal fair housing laws of: race, color, national origin, disability, sex religion and familial status to include protect against discrimination of sexual orientation and age.

  10. Pingback: Most same-sex couples denied when applying for a mortgage [study]

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Austin

Austin tops the list of best places to buy a home

When looking to buy a home, taking the long view is important before making such a huge investment – where are the best places to make that commitment?

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Looking at the bigger picture

(REALUOSO.COM) – Let us first express that although we are completely biased about Texas (we’re headquartered here, I personally grew up here), the data is not – Texas is the best. That’s a scientific fact. There’s a running joke in Austin that if there is a list of “best places to [anything],” we’re on it, and the joke causes eye rolls instead of humility (we’re sore winners and sore losers in this town).

That said, SelfStorage.com dug into the data and determined that the top 12 places to buy a home are currently Texas and North Carolina (and Portland, I guess you’re okay too or whatever).

They examined the nerdiest of numbers from the compound annual growth rate in inflation-adjusted GDP to cost premium, affordability, taxes, job growth, and housing availability.

“Buying a house is a big decision and a big commitment,” the company notes. “Although U.S. home prices have risen in the long term, the last decade has shown that path is sometimes full of twists, turns, dizzying heights and steep, abrupt falls. Today, home prices are stabilizing and increasing in most areas of the U.S.”

Click here to continue reading the list of the 12 best places to buy a home…

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Housing News

Average age of houses on the rise, so is it now better or worse to buy new?

With aging housing in America, are first-time buyers better off buying new or existing homes? The average age of a home is rising, as is the price of new housing, so a shift could be upon us.

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aging housing inventory

The average home age is higher than ever

(REALUOSO.COM) – In a survey from the Department of Housing and Urban Development American Housing Survey (AHS), the median age of homes in the United States was 35 years old. In Texas, homes are a bit younger with the median age between 19 – 29 years. The northeast has the oldest homes, with the median age between 50 – 61 years. In 1985, the median age of a home was only 23 years.

With more houses around 40 years old, the National Association of Realtors asserts that homeowners will have to undertake remodeling and renovation projects before selling unless the home is sold as-is, in which case the buyer will be responsible to update their new residence. Even homeowners who aren’t selling will need to consider remodeling for structural and aesthetic reasons.

Prices of new homes on the rise

Newer homes cost more than they used to. The price differential between new homes and older homes has increased from 10 percent traditionally to around 37 percent in 2014. This is due to rising construction costs, scarcity of lots, and a low inventory of new homes that doesn’t meet the demand.

Click here to continue reading this story…

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Housing News

Are Realtors the real loser in the fight between Zillow Group and Move, Inc.?

The last year has been one of dramatic and rapid change in the real estate tech sector, but Realtors are vulnerable, and we’re worried.

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Why Realtors are vulnerable to these rapid changes

(REALUOSO.COM) – Corporate warfare demands headlines in every industry, but in the real estate tech sector, a storm has been brewing for years, which in the last year has come to a head. Zillow Group and Move, Inc. (which is owned by News Corp. and operates ListHub, Realtor.com, TopProducer, and other brands) have been competing for a decade now, and the race has appeared to be an aggressive yet polite boxing match. Last year, the gloves came off, and now, they’ve drawn swords and appear to want blood.

Note: We’ll let you decide which company plays which role in the image above.

So how then, does any of this make Realtors the victims of this sword fight? Let’s get everyone up to speed, and then we’ll discuss.

1. Zillow poaches top talent, Move/NAR sues

It all started last year when the gloves came off – Move’s Chief Strategy Officer (who was also Realtor.com’s President), Errol Samuelson jumped ship and joined Zillow on the same day he phoned in his resignation without notice. He left under questionable circumstances, which has led to a lengthy legal battle (wherein Move and NAR have sued Zillow and Samuelson over allegations of breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, and misappropriation of trade secrets), with the most recent motion being for contempt, which a judge granted to Move/NAR after the mysterious “Samuelson Memo” surfaced.

Salt was added to the wound when Move awarded Samuelson’s job to Move veteran, Curt Beardsley, who days after Samuelson left, also defected to Zillow. This too led to a lawsuit, with allegations including breach of contract, violation of corporations code, illegal dumping of stocks, and Move has sought restitution. These charges are extremely serious, but demanded slightly less attention than the ongoing lawsuit against Samuelson.

2. Two major media brands emerge

Last fall, the News Corp. acquisition of Move, Inc. was given the green light by the feds, and this month, Zillow finalized their acquisition of Trulia.

…Click here to continue reading this story…

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