26 REALTOR® MARCH/APRIL 2016 REALTORMAG.REALTOR.ORG
Staying Within the Law
way Butler did—by engaging in some straight talk about the
law with their client. Less than 3 percent of respondents to the
survey said they’d file a complaint, and less than 1 percent said
they’ve ever filed a fair housing complaint.
Putting Your Training to Work
As a member of the National Association of REALTORS®, you’ve
made a commitment to equal treatment—not just because
it’s the law but as part of the REALTORS® Code of Ethics. NAR
requires that members stay up to date on the Code, completing
training at least every four years. In addition, states and
localities often have their own fair housing laws, so state and
local associations administer specific fair housing training for
their members. Typically, licensees are required to take a two- or
three-hour course every two to four years.
So there’s little doubt that when clients ask questions about
quality of schools, local demographics, and neighborhood
safety, you know to refer them to reliable information sources
for answers rather than give your opinion. Resist the temptation
to skirt the subject, says Mabel Guzman, CIPS, a sales associate
at @properties in Chicago. You’re not teaching them anything
by being coy. Be frank about why you can’t answer certain
Do you discuss fair housing with buyers and sellers?
Do you discuss fair housing in your o;ce meetings?
Do you or your client bring up fair housing?
71% me. 26% both. 3% client.
Some behaviors might not strike
consumers or real estate professionals
as clear-cut violations of the federal Fair
Housing Act, which prohibits housing
discrimination based on race, color,
national origin, religion, sex, disability, and
familial status. But HUD’s discrimination
studies have found these common—yet
often overlooked—infractions that you
should be attuned to. Here are ways to
avoid overstepping the law:
■ If you ask clients to obtain a
prequalification letter from a lender
before showing them homes, apply
that standard to everyone. Even if
clients promise they have the ability
to purchase, don’t give them a pass,
or a case could be made that you o;er
di;ering levels of service. Whatever
processes you use for one client, use
■ Don’t write listing copy that makes a
judgment about the type of buyer who
would be most interested in the home.
For example, saying a home is “perfect
for joggers” could be seen as excluding
people with certain disabilities.
Describe the property as being located
“next to a jogging trail” rather than the
person it would appeal to.
■ Let the clients bring up whether they
want to live near certain amenities,
such as houses of worship, cultural
institutions, or playgrounds. Making
the suggestion yourself could be
considered “steering” clients toward
certain neighborhoods—a definite