A Glance at Efforts to Defeat Racial Bias in Real Estate
The issue of racial bias in real estate is not new. Yet 52 years after the Fair Housing Act was passed, the real estate industry, like the rest of society, still struggles with equal treatment of buyers and sellers of color.
The most recent U.S. Census Bureau report shows that nearly 74 percent of White, Non-Hispanic households own their own home, compared with 44 percent of Black households - and a study by Freddie Mac confirmed that homeowners of color have been victims of appraisal bias, with homes in Black neighborhoods some 70 percent more likely to appraise lower than homes in White areas.
Recognizing the need for addressing racial bias in real estate, the National Association of REALTORS®
(NAR) created a program in 1998 called At Home with Diversity (AHWD). Since then, the program has prepared more than 20,000 REALTORS®
to work effectively with an increasingly diverse pool of homebuyers. The six-to-seven-hour class, which can be taken online or in person, certifies REALTORS®
as AHWD practitioners, designating them as knowledgeable and sensitive agents committed to service that transcends cultural barriers.
NAR has also long recommended that a simple and effective strategy to ensure more inclusive practices in real estate is for firms to recruit, train and hire more REALTORS®
Realogy Title Group and its family of companies also actively work toward addressing racial bias. Leaders at each of our title and escrow companies are encouraged to:
- Provide periodic unconscious bias training to all employees
- Participate in company-wide events focused on inclusion, such as the annual ‘Day of Understanding’ event, where members of the executive committee discuss their own perspectives on diversity and inclusion in the company and across the industry
- Foster a culture of inclusion via Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) that deal with diverse subsets of employees and are focused on increasing dialogue around the issues that each faces
While technology is improving the way transactions happen, and digital home searches and virtual tours give all homebuyers the ability to explore equally, it will continue to take education and universal human commitment to create an industry that encourages and celebrates diversity.
Barbara Pronin is an award-winning writer based in Orange County, Calif. A former news editor with more than 30 years of experience in journalism and corporate communications, she has specialized in real estate topics for over a decade.
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