The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination against homebuyers, with the goal of making purchasing a home, and the opportunities that come with it, more accessible to all people. Primarily, this act was created to put an end to segregation in neighborhoods. Unfortunately, the issue of segregation and racism has many layers to it and therefore requires a much more pragmatic approach to dismantle.
While some progress has been made, we cannot let that prevent us from seeing the areas of our system that still need our attention. Traces of racist practices still exist in the forms of bias, generational impacts of redlining, and more, resulting in the same harmful segregation that the Fair Housing Act meant to eliminate.
As Realtors, we play a crucial role in elevating awareness to support and implement Fair Housing. For that reason, each agent has the capability and responsibility to advocate for Fair Housing with each interaction they have. The first step in improving our interactions with clients is to be aware of the bias that all humans have, both consciously and subconsciously.
Our bias can show up in small but damaging ways, such as assuming a renter has less money due to their cultural or ethnic background and therefore showing them neighborhoods that have lower-quality school districts. The Bias Override: Overcoming Barriers to Fair Housing video from the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) is a great place to start deepening this understanding, and is free for anyone to view. Additionally, you can sign up for the At Home With Diversity (AHWD) certification class.
Another way to support implementing Fair Housing is by ensuring you have a solid understanding of its history, and how it plays out in our day-to-day lives. In addition to the Bias Override course, we at John L. Scott are committed that everyone in our company complete NAR’s Fairhaven: A Fair Housing Simulation, another resource that is free to all licensed realtors. Giving yourself and your colleagues access to these tools and resources will enable you to advocate for Fair Housing practices by gradually dismantling the seemingly insignificant interactions that in fact perpetuate racism in our society.
Realtors know more than anyone about how important location is. Our homes and the neighborhoods where we live shape our path. It’s the area that we spend the most time in, and it’s where we learn, work, interact and build a life that will be passed down to our children. Realtors get to play a central role in this path, which means we have a responsibility to make it fair and equitable. As a result, we believe that diversity education should be mandatory for every realtor and required by NAR.
For additional learning opportunities, visit John L. Scott’s Diversity Resources Page.
John L. Scott Real Estate, led by third-generation Chairman and CEO J. Lennox Scott, has been helping buyers and sellers realize their homeownership dreams since 1931. JLS has over 100 offices with more than 3,000 brokers in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and California. JLS is recognized as one of the top 20 residential real estate brands in the nation.