Twin Cities real estate agents apologize for their role in the homeownership gap


On Wednesday, Minnesota’s biggest real estate groups apologized for the industry’s role in the racial gap in homeownership in the Twin Cities and announced policy changes to help more people of color buy houses.

Denise Mazone, a Twin Cities realtor and the first black president of the Minneapolis-area realtors in its 135-year history, recited an apology approved by the group’s board of directors.

“We were on the wrong side of history,” Mazone said. “Our apology and efforts to initiate policy change are overdue and important steps for us because of the deep and lasting impact our actions have had on people of color in Minnesota, especially Black Minnesotans. “

Until 1968, racial covenants on Minneapolis property deeds were used to exclude people of certain races from owning homes, leading to a segregated city. And for years, MAR, the industry’s leading trade group, barred black estate agents from membership.

Although these practices were abandoned decades ago, their effects persist in both homeownership rates and broader measures of wealth. Today, Minnesota’s black homeownership rate is half the state’s white population rate.

“The real estate profession has been complicit in creating the racial disparities we see today,” said Carrie Chang, chief executive of MAR.

Leaders of the Twin Cities chapters of other estate agent groups attended an event at MAR’s office in Edina to discuss the apology and show their support.

They included the Asian Real Estate Association of America; National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals; the National Association of Realtors, which represents black real estate agents; the Association of real estate agents of Saint-Paul; Minnesota Realtors and the LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance.

Jackie Berry, chair of the MAR task force that spearheaded the apology and helped shape the new policies, said she saw firsthand a lack of awareness about the racial gap between landlords.

“We clearly haven’t done enough to rid the real estate industry of systemic issues that prevent us from staying true to our commitment to fair housing for all,” said Berry, who also serves as a trustee on the board. of MAR and Chair of MAR’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee. “I strongly believe that education is part of the solution.”

The association said it will update its continuing education courses to train real estate agents on a recent change to state purchase contract forms that removes language that could identify certain financial considerations. According to MAR, such details can be used to discriminate against potential buyers.

MAR will also educate all real estate agents about racism in real estate and their responsibility to close the racial homeownership gap. MAR is also expanding funding for the Pathway to Achievement program, which provides scholarships to incoming real estate agents, so it can help launch the careers of more minority agents.

MAR has also committed to recommending that the National Association of Realtors adopt a policy supporting the development of a federal down payment assistance program for first- and first-generation buyers.

Chang said several other local real estate associations have issued apologies for their role in the problem, but she believes MAR is the first to implement policies aimed at correcting the problem.

She said while the task force has not set specific targets to close the homeownership gap, it is committed to implementing additional policies to encourage more homeownership. to minority ownership, which in turn helps foster economic stability and personal wealth.

“Homeownership is the foundation of so many things,” Chang said.


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