REALTORS® shall not deny equal professional services to any person for reasons of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin, sexual orientation, or gender identity. REALTORS®
shall not be parties to any plan or agreement to discriminate against a person
or persons on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin, sexual orientation, or gender identity. (Amended 1/14) REALTORS®, in their real estate employment practices, shall not discriminate against any person or persons on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin, sexual orientation, or gender identity.
What if the Seller Wants to Select the “Right Buyer” for Their Neighborhood?
It is illegal for a seller to refuse to sell their home to someone because the person(s) is in one of the protected classes. If a seller insists on limiting or restricting the viewing of their property to members of a protected class, the broker should refer them to line 63 of the listing contract and to legal counsel. The broker may also elect to not enter into the listing if the broker believes the seller may attempt to engage in unlawful discrimination. If the broker knows that the seller wants to act in a discriminatory manner, and goes along with the sellers’ directives, the broker may be violating fair housing laws. Brokers who remain silent on discriminatory practices may also be found in violation of fair housing laws.
Answer a Question With a Question
When buyers ask you to recommend neighborhoods, be careful how you respond. It’s possible to inadvertently violate the Fair Housing Act by steering a customer to or from certain areas. Here are some tips on how to help buyers find the community they want, without crossing the line.
Ask About Their Interests
This will help you determine neighborhoods that fit their lifestyle without getting into questions of religion, ethnicity, or other sensitive matters. For example, bikers might want to be near a park with a bike path.
We Want Good Schools
When buyers ask questions about schools, point them to the school district’s website and encourage them to schedule a visit to the school(s). You can help them locate the district boundaries to ensure they’ll be purchasing within the school district they choose. But don’t say anything yourself about the quality of the schools.
Crime—Is This a Safe Neighborhood? Direct Them to the Police.
If buyers want to get a picture of the area’s crime rate, direct them to the police department or other sources of information. Don’t disclose crime statistics or say a neighborhood is a safe place to live even if you believe it to be true.
Make a List of Spiritual Places
Develop a list of all houses of worship in the neighborhoods you serve and provide that as a resource to buyers.
Get to Know the Census Bureau
Stick to the Rules
If buyers persist in asking questions that could result in a charge of steering, against you, be polite, but firm in telling them, "I’m sorry, but I can’t provide that information. Fair housing laws prevent me from steering people toward or away from a certain neighborhood based on the legally protected classes." Instead, provide buyers with resources to obtain the information on their own.