The National Association of Realtors launched a free interactive training platform called Fairhaven. Here’s columnist Lee Davnenport’s take on this virtual experience.

Some of us are dealing with fatigue. Pandemic fatigue. Protest fatigue. And both may include fatigue surrounding race, racism and other needs of protected classes. The frustration is valid, and it likely represents how many of us feel, so I dare not brush past it.

There are other complex issues that Realtors are facing and addressing, such as low housing inventory, natural disasters, disruptive technology, the uptick of bank and mortgage defaults just this month, and the like. But most of these other challenges today were not present consecutively for 10, 20 or 50 years. 

I will repeat myself for the people in the back: These other challenges have not been non-stop, unrelenting year after year after year.

Yet, the disregard for the legal rights of those in protected classes has been a battle since those lawful rights were granted in 1968, 1974 and 1988 (noted in “‘There Goes the Neighborhood’: The history of race and homeownership). Thus, it’s not that any of our challenges are to be ignored, but it’s finally high-time we get fair housing right.

Remember in school how those who did not pass a core subject typically had to repeat it? Retaking one course did not stop your learning progression (retaking calculus likely did not stop your Shakespearian class).

Likewise, we as a collective industry have to retake our fair housing studies (which does not have to be a deterrent for other matters) until we either make it a realization for all protected classes (that is our passing grade) or retire. Like me, I hope you want to see our industry’s betterment by handling fair housing properly — it’s the law. 

To help us as an industry, the National Association of Realtors has upped its “game” to help us get fair housing right.

Fairhaven has me ‘in my feelings’

Since I have lived in Atlanta, for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I make it a point to visit the various museums that allow us to hear firsthand accounts from survivors and simulate what it was like to be a freedom rider, a lunch counter sit-in protester, an enslaved Civil War soldier and others who bravely faced discrimination.

Those brief, manufactured experiences in someone else’s shoes are emotionally taxing, but they heighten our awareness of the struggles of those who have come before us. We can choose to say it’s too much and walk away, but they couldn’t, which fully embeds the pain they experienced.

Real talk: That’s how I felt when I visited Fairhaven. Not the actual city in Massachusetts or the fictional town in Need for Speed. The Fairhaven I am referring to is the National Association of Realtor’s new online fair housing simulation.

When you visit Fairhaven, you are just a click away from launching the web-based virtual game-like world. Those of you already geared up with PS5 and acquainted with virtual worlds will likely see this as a piece of cake that is perhaps too simplistic for your sophisticated gaming abilities.

But the user-friendliness of NAR’s Fairhaven hopefully gives all of the pros even more reason to be early adopters and finishers of this simulation.

You will welcome the guided prompts with tips and instructions throughout NAR’s Fairhaven for the rest of us. In this first iteration, after logging in with your NRDS number, you will simply click “Continue” (or the forward arrow in some instances) to advance to the next screen throughout your entire time in NAR’s Fairhaven.

In true gaming fashion, NAR’s Fairhaven does not outline the different simulations of buying and selling you will encounter — that is part of the surprise and fun of gaming.

However, at the start, you are informed that the goal is to complete four transactions by the end of the simulation based on the various scenarios you will face. How that will happen is the mystery that your responses to the prompts will determine throughout the multiple scenarios.

For those of you like me (competitive!), I can imagine that your competitive senses are tingling, and you might be itching to play just to prove you can close all four deals. That’s great! To encourage a “buzz” around Fairhaven, I wish there was a leaderboard that shows scores and times and even allows us to high-five each other (like I do when riding with Peloton).

I am halfway through the simulation (with two of my four transactions closed) and just had to step away. Again I recognize the privilege of stepping away from NAR Fairhaven’s simulations of discrimination; that’s not always an option, as illustrated by the real stories in NAR’s Fairhaven.

In the roughly 30 minutes that I have been in NAR’s Fairhaven, I have had to make decisions surrounding timely topics, including:

  • Gender identity
  • Disability accessibility
  • Language barriers
  • LGBTQ+ partners
  • Assigning clients with agents because they share a protected class. (Scenario example: You’re Asian, so you must want to work with another Asian, regardless of whether the agent is Japanese and you are Korean.)
  • Covert discrimination and unfair treatment

All that in just a half-hour!

The music is somber throughout, and rightfully so, except when I closed a sale.

Bonus: NAR’s Fairhaven includes additional resource links and videos throughout with heart-wrenching stories of discrimination from actual real estate clients and testers.

We might not have personally seen all of these forms of discrimination up close or even understand how insidious they can be, but NAR’s Fairhaven gives us a bird’s-eye view of real and recent stories with quick access to additional information. No excuses.

Furthermore, thank you, NAR, for getting us out of the habit of solely focusing only on fair housing in earshot of clients. This simulation touches watercooler conversations among our colleagues, along with our responsibility to speak up and even report them (“see something, say something” is not just for the NYC MTA).

Additionally, in NAR’s Fairhaven, you get to step into the roles of clients facing discrimination on a few occasions, which hopefully helps further build more profound empathy. It sure did for me! I consider myself a champion of fair housing, and NAR’s Fairhaven is making me go harder.

Fairhaven is such a great start that I have to ask: NAR, May we please have a version of this in training module form so that brokers, managers and coaches can use these modules separately as part of office training and workshops? Modules would allow us to project to a classroom and spend time on topics that we need most on a given day.

Coach’s challenge: Have you experienced NAR’s Fairhaven yet? The CDC has recommended we stay put as much as possible, but NAR’s Fairhaven is a locale that I hope you will visit before the year ends. Take others with you on the journey.

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

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