Protecting yourself from accusations, lawsuits and losing your career these days is not an easy thing to do.
This blog barely touches on the complications of this topic. It's just my first attempt to articulate the challenges that home sellers and REALTORS are facing these days.
Let’s start with some actual questions or statements we’ve heard from house shoppers.
Where do all the Jewish people live?
I want a good Italian neighborhood.
Is that a family friendly neighborhood?
I need a nice safe neighborhood.
There’s not too many kids in that neighborhood, are there?
And more recently… what’s the COVID situation in that area? Are people wearing masks? Are you vaccinated?
Depending on where you are coming from, those may or may not seem like reasonable questions to ask your REALTOR.
Fair or not?
Regardless of your opinion or mine, such questions are very important to those who are asking them.
However, the reality of our situation is that the Fair Housing act of 1968 has made it so that REALTORS are clearly instructed to not answer questions that could express or support any type of discriminatory decision. If we do, we risk punishment which could include loss of our REAL ESTATE license.
You don’t have to discriminate to be accused of discriminating…
In the past year we’ve even been instructed to not present love letters from potential buyers to the current home owners of our listings. Some of you may be thinking that this rule is over the top. I know that I did at first. Thinking through it further, I came to realize that these love letters give personal information that could cause the seller to choose a different offer. That is considered discrimination by today’s standards. The offer that is chosen by a seller needs to be picked on its merits and nothing else. These are the rules.
Even video surveillance cameras could get a seller in trouble. Imagine the possibility if a disgruntled home shopper did not get their offer accepted and knew that the sellers were able to view them on their home surveillance system. Let the accusations begin….
Who Is Protected?
According to www.hud.gov…
The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing because of:
You may notice that political view or medical status are not listed on that website. However, in today’s toxic climate I do not believe it would be a stretch to think that, if taken to court, RACE could now include political views and DISABILITY could easily incorporate medical status.
So if we can’t answer your questions on all these topics, what can we say?
Q: Where do all the Jewish people live?
A: Unfortunately my hands are tied by government regulations in regards to directly providing that sort of information, however I can suggest that you visit a place that you might expect your preferred neighbors to frequent and ask those who you meet there.
Q: I want a good Italian neighborhood.
A: Same as above
Q: Is that a family friendly neighborhood?
A: Unfortunately my hands are tied by government regulations in regards to directly providing that sort of information. Would you like to visit the new community playground next to the dog park and swimming pool with super slide?
Q: I need a nice safe neighborhood.
A: Unfortunately my hands are tied by government regulations in regards to directly providing that sort of information. Have you seen the market insider information tab on SteveMartinHomes.com? It provides many public details about each zip code in our service area. It includes crime stats that may interest you. You can also contact the local law enforcement agency for any area you are considering.
Q: There’s not too many kids in that neighborhood, are there?
A: Unfortunately my hands are tied by government regulations in regards to directly providing that sort of information. Would you like to see the small playground that this community has? Would you like to hang out in the morning to see if any kids get on a school bus?
What we ARE and What we are NOT.
We are licensed to speak to you about REAL ESTATE. We are not doctors. We are not lawyers. We are not politicians.
We are able help people sort through the entire process of relocating from one home to another, no matter where that other home may be. We are possibly the most full-service Real Estate team that you have ever encountered.
The Wrap Up…
This blog was inspired by a desire to help our customers and ourselves avoid accusations of housing discrimination. I believe that the writers of The Fair Housing Act of 1968 had noble intentions, but could not have possibly imagined these new forms of discrimination that we are seeing today. With that in mind, do not expect to discuss personal opinions about COVID, Vaccines, or other such controversial topics. Those conversations could lead to thoughts that we are discriminating against you and we are not willing to go there. There is no version of a vaccine passport in Florida and we are not allowed to discriminate against anyone for any reason. Wear a mask or don’t wear a mask. It’s a personal choice.
Now let’s get back to the business of helping you with your dreams.
On behalf of Steve Martin Homes Group,
Steve Martin Smith has sold more Sarasota County homes than 98% of the area’s REALTORS from January 2015 through December 2020. Steve finished 2020 as the #1 selling REALTOR at RE/MAX Platinum Realty. Selling $1,000,000+ estates from Panther Ridge in Manatee County to condos in Punta Gorda, he is truly a tri-county REALTOR. Originally from the Detroit area, Steve discovered Sarasota County in 1983 and then moved his young family here in 1998. In his life before real estate, Steve worked corporate business management positions for 25 years while simultaneously volunteering in youth and family ministry roles with his wife Katrina. Today, along with their adult children, they enjoy helping families to realize their goals and dreams. Steve also fancies himself a song writer and plays guitar whenever he gets the chance.
*as recorded by Stellar MLS for the period of 1/1/2015 through 12/31/2020