Industry News

Agent disciplined for steering gay couple

Rookie Realtor puzzled by nuances of fair housing laws

Learn the New Luxury Playbook at Luxury Connect | October 18-19 at the Beverly Hills Hotel

If I owned a dress shop and a tiny woman walked in, I'd probably take her straight to the petite aisle. If I ran a restaurant and a gentleman entered with a lit cigarette dangling from his mouth, I would immediately offer him a table in the smoking section. Unfortunately, such common-sense ideas don't always apply to the real estate business. When a restaurateur suggests a chain-smoking customer might feel most comfortable in the smoking section, it's considered good customer service. But when a real estate agent suggests a home buyer might be more comfortable in one particular neighborhood than another, it's illegal steering–a federal crime that can result in huge fines, possible loss of the agent's sales license and even a prison term. I've been thinking about anti-steering laws for the past few weeks because an agent I know was recently punished for a questionable steering violation. His crime: Suggesting to a gay couple that they "might feel more comfortable" if they focuse...