Fair housing was an outcry of American real estate’s blind spot. Here are a few areas in the industry that still deserve more attention — plus ways to improve our line of sight.

Crunch, pop, snap. That’s not the sound of your morning cereal. Instead, the front bumper of your car is now mangled — thanks to the driver next to you who’s not maintaining his lane. “That wasn’t intentional.” “I didn’t know you were there.” “I just couldn’t see you.” “You were in my blind spot.” These are all things we’ve heard before. 

Some of us are all too familiar with the destruction caused by being in someone’s blind spot on the road. But I dare say blind spots in our real estate career can prove more damaging to our reputation and livelihood than what’s only (hopefully) a minor fender bender. So, what can we do about it?

I’m so appreciative that after last month’s article, “There goes the neighborhood’: The history of race and homeownership,” the Long Island Board of Realtors (LIBOR) invited me with virtual open arms to share.

This is all at a time when New York is taking a zero-tolerance stance on housing discrimination after the 2019 Newsday expose of Long Island housing discrimination. (Agents can have their licenses suspended. Translation: instant loss of income and career.) It was an incredibly humbling honor to be one of the first voices to speak at such a critical time.

Join in on this lively prerecorded talk with the welcoming LIBOR, filled with engaging activities to determine if fair housing is your blind spot and four ways to reset. In case you want the CliffsNotes version of this talk, here are some key takeaways from the video:

Takeaway No. 1

Fair housing was an outcry of American real estate’s “blind spot.” By the way, how well do you know fair housing? Take this quick quiz to check your smarts.

Takeaway No. 2

Blind spots are not an attack on our identity. Rather, they indicate areas that deserve more attention. However, when our “threat mode” is on, we tend to not look for ways to improve our line of sight, but instead, we defend our identity with statements like:

  • “I didn’t create the system.”
  • “I only see green.”
  • “I have (grand) children” (in response to familial status violations, as an example).
  • “I show properties that have ramps” (in response to accessibility violations). 
  • “Chinese investors love me” (in response to nationality violations). 
  • “I had a Muslim neighbor” (in response to religion violations).
  • “My best friend is Black” (in response to race violations). 

Takeaway No. 3

Our blind spots as an industry in fair housing include statements like:

  • “This is what the client said/wanted.”
  • “If I were you…”
  • “Selective fact giving.”
  • “This is how other agents do it.”
  • “XYZ marketing platform gives the option to select/deselect this protected class so that means I can.”

Takeaway No. 4

There are a few ways we can reset:

1. Acknowledging and intentionally looking for our blind spots

That is what we do in new vehicles that we do not want to damage. How much more should we do it with our livelihood? We can do this by posting and including this Fair Housing Declaration in seller, buyer and leasing presentations. (Bonus brownie points if you make this your daily mantra.) 

Plus, we should ask to be — and welcome when we are — called out as needed, since blind spots can impact anyone based on another person’s viewpoint and angle (read: not an attack on your identity).

2. Countering discriminatory talk

We should counter misinformed and discriminatory talk immediately with the language of the law and use these examples anonymously (name dropping is an absolute no) as teachable moments for social media, newsletters, video series, etc.

3. Sticking with the law

Other people and various platforms (no matter how popular) are not our standard. Stay current with tech tools like Feed.ly, Mention.com and Google Alerts. Additionally, join the J.E.D.I. challenge. (JEDI stands for Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion as defined by our friends at Compass). Ask yourself, “What class can I sign-up today to take this month to promote the American dream of fair homeownership?”

4. Staying a creature of good habit

In other words, what you do for one prospect, do for all — every single time. For many, this may mean we need to systematize everything, so make sure to use your firm’s CRM, IFTTT and Zapier to help with automation.

Lee Davenport is a licensed real estate broker, trainer and coach. Follow her on YouTube, or visit her website.

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