The certificate course, “Bias Override: Overcoming Barriers to Fair Housing,” was featured Sunday during an interactive workshop held on the first day of the Realtors Legislative Meetings in National Harbor, Maryland.
So far, some 100 members of the 1.5-million-member trade group have completed the three-hour course, which has only been offered a handful of times since launching in April, NAR spokesperson Patrick Newton told Inman via email.
“Bias Override is a live three-hour classroom training that explores the history of bias in real estate, the mind science of bias, and how the phenomena of implicit bias, identity anxiety and stereotype threat can result in fair housing violations and denial of equal service,” Newton said.
“Bias Override then offers strategies and tactics for overriding bias.”
NAR does not currently require any fair housing training, but that may change this week. In March, the trade group’s Fair Housing Policy Committee sent a recommendation that NAR should require regular fair housing training to the Membership Policy and Board Jurisdiction Committee, which oversees NAR membership requirements, according to Newton.
That committee will be considering that recommendation at its meeting this week, Newton added. Currently, the only training NAR requires of its members is a 2.5-hour Realtor Code of Ethics training every three years.
Two states, California and New York, now require implicit bias training to obtain a real estate license and NAR is training trainers in those states so that Bias Override will count toward licensees’ continuing education requirements there, according to Newton.
According to the association, Bias Override identifies interventions to prevent implicit bias from influencing behavior and increases members’ personal motivation to confront the issue in their business and community.
“Realtors are committed to upholding fair housing laws and the Code of Ethics,” said 2022 NAR President Leslie Rouda Smith, in a statement.
“However, our brains sometimes take shortcuts that can unknowingly lead us astray. This innovative certificate course helps participants recognize unconscious biases and how they impact interactions, ultimately enhancing professionalism and expanding business opportunities as we work to make homeownership accessible to all.”
The course can be taken online or in-person and is offered by licensed providers of the Center for Realtor Development.
“Price varies by provider,” Newton said. “Associations may apply for a NAR Fair Housing grant to offset the cost of the course.”
By June 2020, NAR will have 60 trainers who have completed the training required to offer Bias Override. The trainers take a two-day course offered by the Perception Institute, a consortium of researchers, advocates and strategists that draws on mind science research to provide implicit bias training to judges, prosecutors, juries, doctors, teachers and others, according to NAR.
“NAR worked with Perception to customize its core content to the real estate context,” Newton said.
In 2020, NAR launched fair housing training called Fairhaven. Fairhaven is different from Bias Override in that Fairhaven is an online interactive simulation that puts members in realistic scenarios where discrimination could occur in a real estate transaction and gives members the point of view of both the agent and the client, according to Newton.
“Learners make decisions that affect the outcome,” he said. “It takes 60-100 minutes to complete.”
So far, one state, Kentucky, has approved Fairhaven for CE credit, while Vermont and Connecticut are currently looking to get it approved, according to NAR.
NAR has provided a packet of material to Bias Override providers to submit to their state real estate commissions for CE approval, the trade group added.
In November, Charlie Oppler, then NAR’s president, lamented that only 30,000 members had completed the Fairhaven training, saying that closing the racial wealth gap should be a Realtor priority.
On Monday, NAR told Inman that 43,000 members had begun the training and 79 percent had completed it, which means about 34,000 members have finished the training so far.
“NAR has added Fairhaven to its new member orientation,” Newton said.
“Many locals have done the same,” Newton added. “NAR is engaged in marketing on multiple fronts to promote the training, including sending emails to those who have started but not completed.
“States like Virginia, locals like Land of the Sky in North Carolina, and brokerages like Charles Rutenberg in Long Island are running competitions that have increased uptake significantly.”
Charles Rutenberg Realty is notably one of 10 Long Island brokerages allegedly caught discriminating against racial minorities in a three-year investigation by Newsday.