Even nice people should pay attention

Dated: April 23 2022

Views: 12

Most people believe that they treat others fairly and would never discriminate against others based on their race, religion, or ethnicity. Agents and property owners who offer to sell or lease a home, however, need to be aware of federal and California fair housing legislation that can affect even nice people. Housing laws prohibit discrimination based on 22 specified demographic categories, and actions that seem harmless to one person can be seen by others as clear discrimination. Home sellers and landlords need to avoid indicating what sort of buyer or renter they prefer—especially in advertising such as an MLS listing. Describing a condo as a bachelor pad, or a home as perfect for a young couple, are actually examples of discrimination based on familial status. 

It’s best to leave interactions with potential buyers or renters to your agent, who can take care that all candidates are treated with equal respect and access to the property. It’s even possible that a person inquiring about your listing isn’t a buyer at all, but a mystery shopper doing fair housing testing to identify discriminating sellers and enforce the law.

These concerns may be a bigger deal for sellers than for buyers, but the issue affects buyers as well. In this very competitive sellers’ market, buyers might want to help their chances of being selected with a heartfelt letter to the sellers describing themselves and how much they love the house. Unfortunately, these letters are now strongly discouraged because they could become evidence of unlawful discrimination by the seller. 

Protecting my clients from the risk of legal complications is a responsibility I take very seriously. By providing clear guidance and minimizing interactions between my clients and the principals on the other side, I work to avoid misunderstandings and the appearance of discrimination.

Blog author image

DAVID DUNLAP

As a residential real estate executive with an extensive background in corporate marketing, I am able to apply unusually strong skills in marketing communications, e-marketing, strategic planning and ....

Latest Blog Posts

Even nice people should pay attention

Most people believe that they treat others fairly and would never discriminate against others based on their race, religion, or ethnicity. Agents and property owners who offer to sell or lease a,

Read More

"Title insurance?"

There are dozens of details related to buying a home, and title insurance certainly isn’t among the first things one thinks about, so it’s not surprising that clients ask about it. They

Read More

Yin & yang, inflation & interest rates

Mortgage interest rates are driven by inflation. If you had a million dollars and wanted to lend it to a home buyer, you’d choose an interest rate that would make the money work for you&mdash

Read More

A lesson in pricing

In strategy talks about putting a property on the market, I’ll sometimes hear clients suggest that we list a house for the highest price we might hope for—with the assurance that we can

Read More