Introduction: A Hard Look at Home-Buying Equality
Homeownership, a cornerstone of the American Dream, is a symbol of security and prosperity. Yet, this dream has been historically mired in inequality, with discriminatory practices creating barriers for many. Several key players in the real estate industry have recently faced a reckoning for its role in perpetuating these inequalities.
The Case Against Industry Titans
The path to fair housing has been a tumultuous one, scarred by practices that have systematically marginalized communities. The California Association of REALTORS® (C.A.R.), one of the nation’s largest state associations, issued a public apology on October 14, 2022, for its historical backing of discriminatory policies. Decades ago, under its former name, the California Real Estate Association, the organization supported redlining and racially restrictive covenants, contributing to the state’s racial wealth and homeownership gaps. Acknowledging this dark past, C.A.R. President Otto Catrina condemned these actions and committed to working toward rectifying the repercussions of such policies.
Similarly, NAR President Charlie Oppler, in a virtual fair housing summit on November 19, 2020, issued an official apology for the association’s contribution to segregation and racial inequality. By opposing the Fair Housing Act of 1968 and allowing exclusionary membership practices based on race and sex, NAR played a part in the historical policies of residential racial segregation supported by the federal government and America’s banking system. Oppler’s admission of the real estate industry’s “outrage to our morals and our ideals” was a significant step toward addressing these past wrongs.
The Tides of Change: Industry Impact and Public Sentiment
Following these apologies, both associations have taken actionable steps toward change. C.A.R. has moved forward with initiatives such as sponsoring legislation requiring implicit bias training, providing grants for closing costs, and partnering with organizations to increase homeownership in underserved communities. The NAR has launched the ACT! initiative, emphasizing Accountability, Culture Change, and Training to combat housing discrimination. It has also aligned itself with broader efforts, such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Equality of Opportunity Initiative, to combat economic inequality.
Ohio Broker Direct’s Stance: Advocacy in Action
We applaud these acknowledgments but recognize that they mark only the beginning of a long journey toward true equality in real estate. Ohio Broker Direct reaffirms its commitment to fairness and advocates for continued efforts to dismantle the barriers to homeownership that stem from a legacy of discrimination.
Empowering the Client: Knowledge is Power
Knowledge is the catalyst for change. Ohio Broker Direct is dedicated to educating clients about the historical context of fair housing and providing them with the resources to make informed decisions. By understanding the past, clients are better equipped to engage in the present market with confidence and assert their rights to fair housing.
A Call to Rally for Fairness
The apologies from the C.A.R. and NAR are merely sugar-coated retrospective admissions. All members of the real estate industry must stand up and support a call to action for an industry-wide movement toward inclusivity and equality to ensure organizations such as the NAR, individual state and local boards of Realtors, and various Multiple Listing Service providers will be held accountable for any discriminatory, retaliatory, or unethical behavior. While NAR President Kenny Parcell’s abrupt resignation on August 28th of 2023 resulted from public disclosure of internal sexual harassment claims, his replacement Tracy Kaspar has refused to disclose the ‘non-financial blackmail threat’ which she refused to challenge as she abruptly stepped down from the position herself. To be clear, the NAR had two Presidents resign in 2023 due to unsavory behavior. This supports the need for further investigation and greater oversight of the NAR, its hiring practices, policies and procedures. We invite you to join Ohio Broker Direct in this vital conversation and to advocate for a future where the dream of homeownership is accessible to all. Stay informed: Subscribe to our newsletter for ongoing insights into fair housing and other important developments in these ongoing controversies.