California Association of Realtors Takes a Stand on Discrimination
Real Estate Reality By Carl Medford, CRS
“As seen in the Real Estate Reality Column in the San Leandro Times & Castro Valley Forum, written by Carl Medford”
As racial tensions continue echoing across the nation, The National Association of Realtors (NAR), in conjunction with state Realtor Associations are working hard to uphold the national Fair Housing Laws instituted in 1968.
Recently, the California Association of Realtors (CAR) added a new form to listing agreements and purchase contracts. Entitled the FAIR HOUSING & DISCRIMINATION ADVISORY, it states, “NAR Code of Ethics Article 10 prohibits discrimination in employment practices or in rendering real estate license services against any person because of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin, sexual orientation, or gender identity by REALTORS®.”1
In effect, this means Realtors must provide full access to every property by everyone. Period.
Historically, real estate agents have been guilty of limiting access based upon local policies, personal preference and neighborhood-specific covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&Rs) banning specific racial groups.
Although practices have changed, and Bay Area communities are amongst the most ethnically diverse in the nation, some of the old CC&Rs still exist and are actually included in current real estate transactions. I recently received a call from a homebuyer reading the CC&Rs for his property. “Have you read these?” he demanded, referring to paragraphs with ethnic restrictions. “Is this for real?” I pointed out that while historical CC&Rs may not have been changed since their inception (In some cases 50-70 years ago), today’s Fair Housing Laws take precedence and override any documentation that includes violations of the Fair Housing Act.
Today’s Fair Housing Laws affect almost every area of the home buying process and can be unwillingly violated by those not current with the nuances of the legislation. As an example, buyers frequently ask real estate agents two questions: “What is the ethnic makeup of this neighborhood? and “What is the crime rate in this area?” If the agent answers either of the questions, they would be in violation of the law and guilty of a practice called “Steering.”
While agents cannot answer specific questions about any given area, they CAN provide buyers with links to websites where the buyers can go, get the information they are looking for and make informed decisions on their own.
The Bay Area has worked long and hard to come out from underneath a history of discrimination. It is more important than ever that we continue making this a region where equal opportunity for housing is a fact, not a byword.
1 Excerpt from California Association of Realtors Form FHDA, FAIR HOUSING & DISCRIMINATION ADVISORY, dated 10/20
Carl Medford is a licensed Realtor with Keller Williams Realty and a licensed general contractor. This article is sponsored by the Central County Marketing Association.