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Real Estate Associations

The state of fair housing and of discrimination in housing

Of the 2,300 respondents, more than 80 percent said they had not encountered housing discrimination in their market.

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fair housing

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.

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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.

Sight unseen?

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.

#FairHousing

Nearly three decades living and working all over the world as a radio and television broadcast journalist in the United States Air Force, Staff Writer, Gary Picariello is now retired from the military and is focused on his writing career.

Real Estate Associations

NAR updates code of ethics – here’s why it matters

(REAL ESTATE ASSOCIATION) The NAR amended their code of ethics to cover hate speech online – a decision for which we’ve been waiting for years.

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A welcome sign inside of a home that cannot be removed thanks to updated code of ethics

The National Association of Realtors voted to amend their realtor code of ethics in November 2020, leading to a crucial addition that will change the way realtors approach off-duty interactions and behavior—for the better.

This motion passed on the heels of several reports regarding disturbing speech and actions from realtors. While the comments in question were allegedly restricted to social media, some other members of the NAR went so far as to do things like remove property (e.g., Black Lives Matter signs) from neighbors’ yards. This clearly constitutes an ethical violation, but the line isn’t always so clear-cut—hence the updated code of ethics.

According to the revised code, any kind of hate speech or dissenting behavior toward protected classes from realtors will constitute a violation; this includes comments or harassment based on race, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, age, and much more. Should a realtor be found guilty of making such comments, they could face severe penalties.

Changing the code of ethics to reflect common decency is a part of this decision, but it isn’t the most important component. By adopting and enforcing these changes, the NAR gets one step closer to fair housing for all—something that many realtors consider to be of paramount value.

“[Fair housing] is something near and dear to my heart, and most Realtors’ hearts,” says Jennifer Stevenson, president of the New York State Association of Realtors and board member for the NAR.

Some may view this addition as meddlesome—after all, what one says in their private life and on social media has a certain impervious air to it. But the fact remains that realtors really are public servants; by that logic, they should be held accountable for their words whether they are on-duty or off—just like all other public servants.

Furthermore, realtors represent real estate as a whole; the institution itself deserves to be able to eradicate the member status of anyone who violates the ethics held by that institution. It’s a simple concept: Society is—or should be—moving towards greater acceptance and support of protected classes, and that support includes fair housing. Anyone who isn’t on board with that, even if it’s “just in their personal life”, should jump ship now.

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Real Estate Associations

NAR and AARP partner to create livability index for house hunting

(REAL ESTATE ASSOCATIONS) The National Association of Realtors® and AARP integrated the AARP Livability Index scores across the Realtors Property Resource® platform.

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A neighborhood with close-together houses, with different livability factors.

When you’re searching for your dream home, there are a lot of things to consider besides what you can afford from a financial standpoint. Factors such as being able to have a short commute to work, living in an area with a good school district, or being close to nearby entertainment and restaurants are all things you might take a look at. These are all considered livability factors — the measure of how various community characteristics play into where you choose to live.

Having access to all this information can be difficult to come by, especially if you live out of state and aren’t familiar with the area. The information you do have access to is what is available in the home listing and answers you get from your realtor or seller, but not much else.

So, where can you go to get that information? Well, the National Association of Realtors® and AARP are making it less of a hassle to acquire that information. In a joint effort, the two are integrating the AARP Livability Index scores across the Realtors Property Resource® platform.

“One of AARP’s goals through this collaboration with NAR is to help people better understand their housing needs over their lifetime and address the barriers that prevent people from living in their desired communities as they age,” said Rodney Harrell, VP of Family, Home & Community at AARP. “We are thrilled about the AARP Livability Index integration as it will provide homebuyers and other movers with the necessary information to make informed choices that meet their needs for today and into the future.”

To assist and give property buyers a chance to make “age-friendly decisions and purchases for the home”, the Index will offer insights on community factors. The tool will access these 7 categories of livability:

  • Housing (affordability and access)
  • Neighborhood (access to life, work, and play)
  • Transportation (safe and convenient options)
  • Environment (clean air and water)
  • Health (prevention, access and quality)
  • Engagement (civic and social involvement)
  • Opportunity (inclusion and possibilities)

The tool will score each neighborhood between 0 to 100, with an average score being 50. Communities with more diverse features that appeal to all ages, incomes, and abilities will score higher than those that are not.

Although a total livability score is based on the average of all 7 category scores, the Index lets you customize your score based on your personal preferences. If transportation is more important to you than housing or the environment, the tool will take into account what you set as most important.

The AARP Livability Index will give Realtors® access to “robust national data” that can be broken down by address, ZIP Code, city, or county to share with buyers. This data will have information on updated metrics and policies. You’ll also be able to compare up to three community performances side by side and even share a score on social media.

What is considered “livable” is different for each person. It can be that affordable home right in the middle of town or that spacious house removed from the bustling city. Whatever your form of livability is, the AARP Livability Index score aims to help you find the right home in just the right community.

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Real Estate Associations

NAR supports economic inclusion for equal housing opportunities

(REAL ESTATE ASSOCIATIONS) The NAR is pushing to insure anyone who wants a home can get one through a combination of economic inclusion, and eliminating implicit bias.

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economic inclusion

The National Association of Realtors® is working with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Equality of Opportunity that addresses accessibility to housing based on economic inclusion. NAR CEO Bob Goldberg said,

“We believe that building a better future in America begins with equal access to housing and opportunity. With ongoing residential segregation contributing to many problems in our society, NAR recognizes that this nation cannot achieve true economic equality without first achieving true equality in housing. Our commitment to this cause and to Fair Housing has only strengthened in response to recent tragedies in America.”

What is economic inclusion?

According to the FDIC, economic inclusion describes the efforts to bring underserved communities into the financial mainstream. This could include things like making sure consumers have access to bank accounts and financial services; protections against discriminatory lending practices; and other types of consumer protections. Although the FDIC’s efforts seem to focus on unbanked and underbanked consumers, economic inclusion reaches around to all financial transactions, including housing.

Research from the Brookings Institution cites barriers to economic inclusion as slowing economic growth in local communities. Giving underserved communities access to financial products and opportunities actually spurs the local economy. The government bears the weight of services for the underserved. For example, childhood poverty costs the U.S. economy about 4% of the GDP annually. Nationwide, that is about $500 billion a year. Economic inclusion gives people a way out. It’s not a hand-out, but education and opportunities to change the future.

The NAR is making real change for the underserved

Last week, it was announced that the NAR introduced tools that would reduce implicit bias. Goldberg said, “NAR has spent recent years reexamining how our 1.4 million members can best lead the fight against discrimination, bigotry, and injustice.” The NAR isn’t just talking about it. They’re putting their money behind inclusion, and preventing unfair housing practices. These kind of changes matter for everyone.

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