‘Personal relocation firm’ helps city dwellers find the ‘right’ suburb

In a lengthy article that touches on many of the issues raised in a four-part Inman News series on how neighborhood data can complicate the role of real estate agents and aggravate residential segregation, The New York Times looks at how a “personal relocation firm,” Suburban Jungle Realty Group, helps city dwellers find the “right” suburb.

Licensed as a brokerage, Suburban Jungle Realty Group “abides by the same ethical guidelines as any real estate agency would,” but its staff “can be more objective,” founder Alison Bernstein tells The Times’ Lisa Prevost. Not all staff members are licensed as agents, she says, because “having a license really conflicts with what we’re trying to do.”

While the National Association of Realtors’ code of ethics prohibits Realtors from volunteering information about a neighborhood’s racial, religious or ethnic composition, “many nonbrokerage real estate websites that act as referral generators for agents readily offer such information,” Prevost reports.

With some exceptions like Movoto.com, brokerage sites often provide links to third-party providers like Onboard Informatics rather than displaying it themselves, which Fred Underwood, NAR’s director of diversity and community outreach programs, says complies with the code of ethics.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development is looking into whether the Fair Housing Act applies to the provision of demographic information, a HUD official told The Times.

Onboard Informatics’ Peter Goldey said it’s the company’s position that “the consumer has a right to information as long as the information is factual.” Source: nytimes.com.


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