Realtors should be informed about particular housing rules, regulations, and standards. The Fair Housing Act, a comprehensive set of rules, is particularly pertinent. To combat prejudice, fair housing regulations were enacted.
As a real estate agent, you owe a fiduciary responsibility to adhere to applicable laws. At the same time, you want to guarantee that you are acting ethically in general, even outside of your fiduciary position.
The following are some basic facts regarding the Fair Housing Act and other pertinent subjects.
The Fair Housing Act of 1968
A real estate broker must keep in mind that seven protected groups are protected under the national Fair Housing Act. It’s easy to overlook this, yet it must be central to your compliance efforts. The following are the seven protected classes within this legislation:
• National origin
• Gender identity
• Kinship status
No one engaged in real estate in any capacity is permitted to discriminate against individuals for the reasons stated above. This is true not just for realtors, but also for lenders, brokers, and landlords.
Consequences of These Laws
As a real estate agent, you are legally prohibited from responding to some inquiries. It makes little difference what the motivations are for some of these demands.
For instance, if you are a realtor and a buyer want to learn more about the crime and safety situation in an area, you should refrain from telling them whether or not the place is safe. Rather than that, you should refer the customer to reliable sources of information, such as local crime statistics.
Certain words, such as couples, singles, professional, or bachelor pad, are prohibited when making postings. Children are not permitted, low-income, disabled, and Section Eight are other words to avoid in listing descriptions.
As an estate agent, you are legally prohibited from answering inquiries regarding the ethnic or racial composition. Additionally, you cannot guide your customer in a particular route within a neighbourhood based on their nationality or colour.
Realtors National Association Ethics Code
The National Association of Realtors (NAR) simple code of ethics states that Realtors cannot refuse professional services to anybody based on their membership in any protected groups listed above or based on their sexual familiarisation or gender identity.
In November 2020, the National Association of Realtors’ Board of Directors reaffirmed the association’s commitment to fair housing by accepting proposals to expand the Code of Ethics to include discriminatory speech and behaviour outside of real estate business that violates ethical standards.
What You Can Communicate With Your Clients
As a competent and ethical agent, you may direct your customers to resources that can assist them in resolving neighbourhood-related issues. Your customers may then make their own judgments. Your objective should always be to provide accurate information and serve as a resource, not to interpret that information.
Taking an example from this year property news. A realtor who is helping his client with the purchasing of Gazania condo exercises caution when he is advising them.
With this in mind, you must bear in mind that in addition to complying with fair housing regulations, you must consider how your customers may see things differently than you do.
It would help if you never made assumptions about your customers or their preferences, not only because you risk unintentionally violating fair housing laws, but also because you are not adhering to the profession’s standards.
Moving back to the example of the real estate broker who introduced the Gazania. The location is not as ideal but the condo is attractively priced.