A Snapshot of Race and Home Buying in America

April 29, 2022

- By Sabrina Lapointe

This report looks at homeownership trends, mortgage market and affordability by race, and home buyer demographics from the 2021 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, home buyers and fair housing. Some findings include: Black/African-American home buyers reported the highest share of student loan debt at 41%, with a median amount of $45,000. 19% of Hispanic/Latinos, and 18% of Asian/Pacific Islanders and Black/African-Americans purchased multi-generational homes. They primarily purchased a multi-generational home to spend more time with aging parents, health/caretaking of aging parents/relatives, wanting a larger home that multiple incomes could afford together, and cost savings. The share of multi-generational buyers was 10% among White/Caucasian buyers. 21% of Asian/Pacific Islanders, and 11% of Hispanic/Latino buyers used a gift from relative or friend towards their down payment for their home.

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Fair Housing Considerations in Tenant Screening

April 22, 2022

- By The MAR Legal Team

Fair Housing Considerations in Tenant Screening Housing providers often implement procedures in which prospective tenants are screened to determine whether to lease a particular property to that individual. While it is important to assess a prospective tenant to ensure that they will meet the obligations under the lease agreement, screening procedures are rife with potential Fair Housing violations. Rental Vouchers A major area of concern that has been receiving a significant amount of attention1 over the last couple of years is discrimination against prospective tenants who receiving housing assistance, such as Section 8. In 2020 the Office of the Attorney General entered into settlement agreements totaling $110,000 with four different real estate brokerages for discrimination against low-income tenants who were the recipients of housing vouchers.2 Additionally, just this month, the Office of the Attorney General resolved four additional cases, in…

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Avoid Fair Housing Violations in Advertising

April 15, 2022

- By “Window to the Law: Advertising Within the Fair Housing Framework,” National Association of REALTORS® (April 1, 2022)

Real estate professionals are legally obligated to uphold fair housing laws, and the language and images you use in your advertising needs to be vetted carefully. REALTORS® also have an obligation to do so under Article 10 of the Code of Ethics. “Advertisements should never indicate a preference or limitation based on a protected class, which at the federal level includes race, color, religion, sex, disability, family status, and national origin,” Mike Rohde, staff attorney at the National Association of REALTORS®, says in the latest “Window to the Law” video. “HUD recently expanded its interpretation of sex to include sexual orientation and gender identity, and state and local laws may expand the categories of protected classes further.” Rohde provides a tip: When advertising a property, focus on describing the property, not the buyer or tenant. As such, he cautions against using phrases…

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White House Releases Plan to Combat Appraisal Bias

April 8, 2022

- By PAVE.hud.gov and Whitehouse.gov

An interagency task force at the White House has outlined a plan aimed at rooting out racial and ethnic bias in home valuations. The Property Appraisal and Valuation Equity task force released a five-step action plan yesterday to increase oversight and accountability. It also includes steps for homebuyers and homeowners to take when they receive a valuation lower than expected. The National Association of REALTORS® had a part in the formation of the action plan, including meeting with the PAVE task force to propose solutions on how the Biden administration, REALTORS®, and the broader appraisal industry could work together to address concerns and improve public trust in the appraisal process. “Historically, many groups have faced unfair home undervaluation,” Leslie Rouda Smith, NAR’s president, said in a statement following the task force’s release of its report. “Addressing those wrongs is…

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Off the Cuff with Ryan Weyandt, CEO of the Industry’s fastest growing LGBTQ group

April 1, 2022

- By Sabrina Lapointe

Q: This is an unprecedented time for the LGBTQ community. Public opinion for same-sex marriage now tops 70% in the U.S., yet there are now more than 200+ pieces of legislation in motion at the state and local level that seeks to roll back LGBTQ rights. How do you explain that? A: I wish I could explain this logically. American society was given the opportunity to become emboldened in its opinions in recent years through political discourse that more resembles political warfare. I talk to folks, some who I’m related to and love very deeply, who tell me that they support me. They tell me that they’re blown away that there aren’t equal rights protections under federal law for LGBTQ people. They tell me that they want to learn about how they can help, and then tell me they voted for…

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Fair Housing Claim Alleges Racial Discrimination by Sellers

April 26, 2021

- By NAR Contributing Article

This is a NAR contributing article. Real estate agents need to understand how to respond when a client violates fair housing laws. By acting swiftly to separate yourself from and address the discriminatory behavior, you can not only protect yourself from potential liability, but also help prevent fair housing violations. A pending case in the U.S. District Court in Massachusetts exemplifies these issues and is a good example of the steps real estate agents should take in these situations. In Clinton-Brown v. Hardick, the plaintiffs filed suit, alleging violations of the Fair Housing Act and Rhode Island fair housing laws based on defendants’ alleged refusal to sell their property to the plaintiffs based on their race.  Although the parties had verbally agreed to the terms of the sale, when the Hardicks received the signed purchase agreement from the Browns and noticed…

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Fair Housing Act: Criminal History-Based Practices and Policies

April 22, 2021

- By NAR Contributing Article

This is a NAR contributing article. In the recently issued “Office of General Counsel Guidance on Application of Fair Housing Act Standards to the Use of Criminal Records by Providers of Housing and Real Estate-Related Transactions”, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”) urges housing providers to exercise caution when implementing criminal history policies or practices used to make housing decisions. HUD’s guidance comes on the heels of the Supreme Court’s decision last summer, which held disparate impact claims are cognizable under the Fair Housing Act.1 While persons with criminal records are not a protected class under the Act, HUD stresses that criminal history-based barriers to housing have a statistically disproportionate impact on minorities, which are a protected class under the Act, and as such, creating arbitrary or blanket criminal-based policies or restrictions could violate the Fair Housing Act (“FHA” or…

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Create Advertisements with Fair Housing in Mind

April 14, 2021

- By NAR Contributing Article

This is a NAR contributing article Advertising your services to a broad audience helps your business succeed, but intentionally or unintentionally creating discriminatory advertisements can not only harm your business but also your reputation.  It’s imperative that real estate professionals ensure their advertisements comply with the Fair Housing Act and do not express a preference for certain characteristics or exclude individuals based on a protected class. An advertisement should not express, for example, a preference for buyers or renters that do not have children or a requirement that clients speak English. Keep in mind that the Fair Housing Act’s definition of advertising is broad, and includes almost everything written or verbal that relates to the provision of real estate-related services.  Items such as online advertisements, newspaper advertisements, brochures, pictures, TV or radio ads, and speech will fall within the Fair…

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NAR Applauds House Vote to Secure Housing Rights for LGBTQ Americans

April 7, 2021

- By NAR Contributing Article

This is a NAR contributing Article WASHINGTON (February 24, 2021) – National Association of REALTORS® President Charlie Oppler issued the following statement after the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday passed H.R. 5, the Equality Act. The legislation would ensure sexual orientation and gender identity are included as prohibited bases for discrimination under the Fair Housing Act. “NAR applauds the House of Representatives for taking action to extend Fair Housing protections to LGBTQ Americans,” said Oppler, a REALTOR® from Franklin Lakes, N.J., and the CEO of Prominent Properties Sotheby’s International. “As stewards of the right to own, use and transfer private property, REALTORS®’ livelihoods depend on an open housing market, and discrimination of any kind limits our shared goals, undermines our values and inhibits our ability to conduct business. NAR amended its official policies more than a decade ago to…

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NAR and the Past, Present and Future of Fair Housing

April 1, 2021

- By Sehar Siddiqi

This is a NAR contributing article. Every year, in February, we celebrate Black History Month and the transformative contributions Black Americans have made to this country. These achievements are even more remarkable in light of how centuries of racial oppression have hardwired racial bias into many facets of American life. Housing is no different. Although discrimination in housing is now illegal, structural and implicit bias continue to adversely affect Black Americans in their ability to achieve the American Dream of homeownership. It is well-documented how the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) worked in tandem with federal, state, and local governments to prevent Black Americans from buying homes in neighborhoods of their choice, thereby shutting them out of opportunities to build the generational wealth that government programs helped White Americans accrue. NAR and its predecessor organization codified the real estate industry’s…

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