The National Association of REALTORS is nothing if not proactive. According to an article on EconomistOutlook, in early 2016, when several “anecdotal stories of discrimination occurring in the market pointed to violations of Fair Housing laws” began to trickle in to the office, it seemed like a great opportunity for some investigative reporting.
The result? A survey REALTOR® Magazine conducted with NAR members in February 2016 dealing with housing discrimination. Of the 2,300 respondents, more than 80 percent said they had not encountered housing discrimination in their market.
Specifically, the first question in the survey reveals that 83 percent of NAR members said they had never seen discrimination in their market area.
That’s reflects positively on the industry as a whole. But in an article entitled “Fair Housing is in Your Hands,” NAR says that fair housing challenges remain. Violations and more importantly – government efforts to enforce the law – continue. “Nearly 10 percent of respondents to the survey said they had encountered discrimination in their markets, 18 percent of those saying it happened within the past month or earlier this year [in 2016].”
When the survey asked how often REALTORS see a potential fair housing issue in their transactions, “Ninety-One (91) percent said never or almost never.” Ninety-nine percent of REALTORS said that they talk with clients to address the potential issue if it arises. Ninety-nine percent also said they had never failed an ethics complaint regarding a fair housing issue.
For the better good
Furthermore, the survey also found that 64 percent of NAR members proactively discuss fair housing issues with buyers and sellers.
Seventy percent of REALTORS said they bring up the topic of fair housing with clients, and that buyers and sellers rarely or never initiate the conversation themselves (83 percent).
And so it goes
No reason to kid ourselves: Taking the first step toward buying or even renting a home can be a daunting task. While it appears that discrimination is not widespread in the current housing market, it does not mean that it has been eliminated. Education may be [one of] the key. Realtors need to take the time to educate and explain market related issues to consumers and the consumer needs to do his/her due diligence and ask questions whenever necessary.
NAR feels its REALTOR members recognize the importance of safeguarding the market from unfair practices as “It benefits the greatest number in the community.”
Note from the Editor: Internally, we struggled with this study because surveying of one side of the population involved (agents) does not necessarily settle or decide the issue. That being said, we do feel this is an important topic and will continue to update you as information becomes available.