24 REALTOR® MARCH/APRIL 2016 REALTORMAG.REALTOR.ORG
Fair Housing Is
In Your Hands
Nearly 50 years since the federal ban on housing discrimination, upholding
the law’s spirit remains a challenge. Here’s how to be a fair housing leader.
BY GRAHAM WOOD
Sandra Butler refused to let it slide when a seller she
represented last year made what felt like a discriminatory
comment. The seller thought the buyers, who had foreign-sounding names, were trying to negotiate for too many repairs.
“I know how these people are, and they always want something
for nothing,” Butler recalls the seller saying.
Butler is African-American. So was her client. And she didn’t
want the seller to “think this conversation could be had because
we look alike,” she says. Instead of flatly admonishing her client,
Butler turned the conversation to fair housing law. “I said, ‘I
don’t know the buyers or what they look like. I just know they
are ready, willing, and able to purchase, and it’s our duty under
the law to make your property available to them,’ ” says Butler,
a sales associate with Sibcy Cline, REALTORS®, in Cincinnati.
The deal ultimately fell apart over negotiation terms, but Butler
was satisfied that she’d made her client more aware of a seller’s
responsibility to abide by the federal Fair Housing Act, which
prohibits inequitable treatment in the sale, rental, and financing
of homes based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex,
disability, and the presence of children.