April is National Fair Housing Month. Realtors across the United States are honoring the anniversary of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s signing into law of the Fair Housing Act on April 11, 1968.
Introduced after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., this law criminalizes discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion and sex in the sale, rental and financing of housing. The law was later amended to include protections for people with disabilities and families with children and expanded to cover gender identity and sexual orientation. Additionally, state or local fair housing laws provide additional protections such as source of income, including the use of housing vouchers.
Fifty-four years later, we are not content to honor the passage of this historic law; we recognize the generational inequality caused by years of housing discrimination. While the real estate industry has made tremendous progress over the past 50 years, much work remains to be done to ensure fair housing for all Americans. We attach the utmost importance to respecting the principles of fair housing.
Those of us who work in real estate accept the great responsibility that comes with helping our clients through the most important financial transactions of their lives. But it also behooves us to understand that a failure to operate in accordance with the Fair Housing Act can create damaging ripples in the fabric of local communities. Some neighborhoods have been shaped in harmful ways by historic illegal practices such as redlining, leading to social inequalities that affect the wealth and well-being of marginalized groups and communities. Every real estate transaction has the potential to compound these injustices or help close the gap.
Three recent reports on the real estate sector highlight the continued and paramount importance of tackling social inequalities in housing:
• The National Association of Realtors Research Group, in its “2022 Snapshot of Race and Home Buying in America,” reports that the homeownership rate for white Americans has consistently been nearly 70% since 2017. During During the same period, the homeownership rate for Black Americans was over 41%, over 47% for Hispanic Americans, and over 59% for Asian Americans.
• The National Association of Real Estate Brokers, in its “2021 State of Housing in Black America,” reported that the typical white family holds eight times the amount of wealth held by the typical black family, and that the ownership gap is more important than it was more than 80 years ago. As the NAREB points out, home ownership is the largest component of median household wealth and intergenerational wealth transfer in the United States.
• The National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals said in its “State of Hispanic Homeownership Report 2021” that Latinos are concentrated in areas of the United States that suffer from housing issues. most serious inventory and affordability. That includes Florida, which saw 25.6% price appreciation in 2021, excluding many first-time home buyers.
Realtors support fair housing by adhering to practices such as providing equal professional service and information to all, developing inclusive advertising, staying informed of fair housing laws, refusing to tolerate non-compliance, and being open to know more about those who are different from ourselves. Coldwell Banker Realty and our parent company, Realogy, being among the largest real estate companies in the world, are dedicated to helping build thriving and inclusive communities that fuel economic growth and prosperity. We are committed to educating ourselves on how we can become allies and advocates in removing barriers to fair housing and the history of unjust housing.
Duff Rubin is president of Coldwell Banker Realty in Florida.