Housing Discrimination. Do you know the Law?

Real Estate Agent with Florida Property Experts

real estate law

Real estate agents, mortgage bankers, and mortgage brokers already know about the Federal Fair Housing Act. Most agents for both real estate sales and lending are not only aware of these laws, but strictly adhere to them. But are you aware that if a real estate buyer or seller starts even talking about discriminating against a protecting class, as specified in the Fair Housing Act, real estate and mortage agents are supposed to tell the discriminator that they are not able to work with them, and walk away. Any other action is a risk of losing their license.

If you're a real estate buyer or a real estate seller, you need to memorize these laws. Thankfully, with today's technology, a quick Google search will produce the details of the Federal Fair Housing Act. To be honest, I'm amazed that there are still people who are ignorant or arrogant enough to discriminate against others; especially those of a protected class. In case you don't know who these protected classes are, they're as follows... race, color, religion, sex, national origin, familial status, or disability.

Recently, the Daytona Beach Area Association of REALTORS® made some excellent changes to our MLS (Multiple Listing Service) Real Estate Listing Agreements. Let's compare the old verbiage with the new.real estate law

OLD: Please do not ask or expect to restrict the sale of your property to race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin. REALTOR® policy as well as federal law prohibits REALTORS® from placing any such restrictions on showing or information about the availability of homes for sale or rent.

(Before you read the new verbiage, I noticed there is one class that is missing- handicap. I've alerted our Board of this error.) With that being said, here is the NEW:

It is illegal, pursuant to the Federal Fair Housing Law, 42 U.S.C.A.3601, to refuse to sell, transfer, assign, rent, lease, sublease or finance housing accommodations, refuse to negotiate for the sale or rental of housing accommodations, or otherwise deny or make unavailable housing accommodations because of race, color, religion, sex, familial status or national origin or to so discriminate in advertising the sale or rental of housing, in the financing of housing, or in the provision of real estate brokerage services. It is also illegal, for profit, to induce or attempt to induce any person to see or rent any dwelling by representations regarding the entry or respective entry into the neighborhood of a person or persons belonging to one of the protected classes.

I'm absolutely thrilled with the new verbiage of our listing agreements. It's longer, but it makes it explicitly clear that NO ONE is to discriminate; not the seller, the buyer, the REALTOR®, or the mortgage broker. Not me, and not you! So think before you open your mouth. And definitely think before you act!

If you're interested in buying or selling real estate in the Daytona Beach area, make a Smart Choice and call Lisa Hill with Adams Cameron & Co., REALTORS®. I'd love to help... unless you expect me to discriminate in any way!

Lisa Hill real estate agent

Adams Cameron and Co Realtors

Lisa Hill, real estate agent in Daytona Beach FL, with Adams Cameron & Co., REALTORS

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David Saks
Memphis, TN

Great post, Lisa, and an important topic and reminder for all of us. Hope your having a fine day.

Jun 03, 2008 04:53 PM #1
John Ford
Security National Properties - Eureka, CA

great post! I agree with everything here!

Jun 03, 2008 04:55 PM #2
Patti A. Puckett
Broker Associate/Realtor/ISA with Nouveau Riche - Belvidere, IL

WOW; slightly more detailed "instructions" huh? One more example of continual change and observance that is needed in our industry.  Thanks for the post

Jun 03, 2008 04:55 PM #3
Thesa Chambers
Fred Real Estate Group - Bend, OR
Principal Broker - Licensed in Oregon

wow this is a great addition or change... nice job in highlighting it

Jun 03, 2008 05:39 PM #4
Eric Kodner
Wayzata Lakes Realty: Eric Kodner Sells Twin Cities Homes - Minnetonka, MN
Wayzata Lakes Realty: Twin Cities, Madeline Island

Lisa, I posted on this subject last autumn and there were a few who wanted to argue with me about what agents are supposed to do if they receive a discriminatory request.

I took it a step further and interviewed a HUD official in Washington, D.C. who told me that HUD expects an agent to report any incident where the agent has direct knowledge of intent to violate anti-discrimination laws.


Jun 03, 2008 05:45 PM #5
Jeff Belonger
Social Media - Infinity Home Mortgage Company, Inc - Cherry Hill, NJ
The FHA Expert - FHA Loans - FHA mortgages - USDA loans - VA Loans

Lisa...  in all honesty, I don't worry about this topic or even think about it often.  Why?  Because I know that I treat every client the same way. I have been accused by some, because they think it has to do with color, when I say I can't help. But that is not how I treat my business. That kind of thought will always be around though. But I am sure what you are talking about happens a lot more than it should...

And on another note... that is mortgage banker... at least for me....  ;o)   Thanks for the link love.

jeff belonger

Jun 03, 2008 06:20 PM #6
Susie Blackmon
Ocala, FL
Ocala, Horses, Western Wear, Horse Farms, Marketing

Hi Lisa, your points and 'reminders' are great but, like Jeff, I treat everyone the same but I am happy that advertising for a 'young buck' is not on our 'no no' list!

Jun 03, 2008 08:35 PM #7
Lisa Hill
Florida Property Experts - Daytona Beach, FL
Daytona Beach Real Estate

Erik- That's interesting information. So is the government pressing charges against ANYONE who discriminates? I mean, I know those in the industry can and will be in deep doo doo. But what about the seller who doesn't want to sell their house to "those" people?

Jun 03, 2008 09:41 PM #8
Richard Byron Smith, NMLS #184479
Mortgage Loan Officer, Fairway Independent Mortgage Corporation NMLS #2289 - Chattanooga, TN
Mortgage Loan Officer

The Chattanooga Office of Multicultural Affairs is very active. There is a training class for continuing education credit. We are trying to jump on the newly enacted education requirements for loan originators to have the course approved for that requirement.

It is about opportunity. And no one should be deprived of opportunity, not here.

Education and posts like this keep in in the forefront of all our minds.

I know of two other recent blogs that deal with related subjects.

Anthony Clark:


My post:


 Eric's comment is telling. What does someone do if they encounter such an instruction from a seller, or a neighbor of a listed property?

Do they refuse the listing? Do they comply with the owner's or the neighborhood's wishes?



Jun 03, 2008 11:01 PM #9
Don Rogers
Keller Williams Realty Chesterfield - O'Fallon, MO
Realtor, Broker, CDPE, GRI, OnullFallon MO & St Charles County MO homes


Thank you for the reminder, this is a very important and I applaud your BOR for making the verbage change.  I let sellers and buyers both know that I will pull the listing or back out of our buyers contract if the hint of discrimination comes up.

Don R.

Jun 04, 2008 12:12 AM #10
Gary L. Waters, Broker Owner, Waters Realty of Brevard, LLC
Waters Realty of Brevard, LLC - Rockledge, FL
... a small office, delivering big service!

Lisa - Nice reminder and good job by your board. 

Jun 04, 2008 01:09 AM #11
Eric Kodner
Wayzata Lakes Realty: Eric Kodner Sells Twin Cities Homes - Minnetonka, MN
Wayzata Lakes Realty: Twin Cities, Madeline Island

Lisa, HUD will prosecute anyone who discriminates.  That includes consumers, agents, brokers, home stagers, mortgage professionals..anyone who engages in discriminatory activity.  It includes the seller who expresses the desire to keep "those people" from buying his/her house.

Richard, let me briefly reply to your comment about what to do if an agent encounters a consumer who expresses an intent or desire to discriminate.  An attorney friend who teaches Fair Housing in Wisconsin counsels agents to use the words "stop right there". 

He says the moment a consumer even begins to imply discriminatory intent, it's time to deliver the lecture.  You tell them that even the implication of discrimination can be a Federal offense, and may also violate state and local laws.  You tell them that HUD expects you to report discrimination and, if you fail to do so, you may be accused of complicity or conspiracy to commit a Fair Housing violation.

Yes, if a seller instructed me to discriminate, I would walk away from the listing. 

BTW, I have taught Fair Housing courses in the Minneapolis & Saint Paul area. 



Jun 04, 2008 05:20 AM #12
Lisa Hill
Florida Property Experts - Daytona Beach, FL
Daytona Beach Real Estate

Eric- My original real estate license instructor used the same words. "Stop right there". He said to tell them we can't continue this line of discussion and if they refuse to stop, you walk away. I have no problem with that.  I'm happy to have laws in place that help us to stop this type of ignorance.

Jun 04, 2008 04:50 PM #13
Audrey June-Forshey
RE/MAX Realty Services - Darnestown, MD
GRI, Gaithersburg, MD

Lisa, This is such an important subject.  I had Fair Housing CE class today.  It is so interesting how people are discriminated against in very subtle ways, like " no cosigners on leases"?  We talked about this today.   Great post.

Jun 04, 2008 05:08 PM #14
Eric Kodner
Wayzata Lakes Realty: Eric Kodner Sells Twin Cities Homes - Minnetonka, MN
Wayzata Lakes Realty: Twin Cities, Madeline Island

Lisa, I've had to bring that up twice during my nine years in the business (in two states).  I had one seller who began to tell me which people he didn't want buying his house.  I cut him off in mid-sentence and told him we'd be done talking if the subject turned to issues of race or other protected classes.  He caught himself and the subject never came up again.  His property sold and that was that.

The second time, it was a buyer who began skirting the issue of "what kind of folks live in this area?" and he got the same lecture.  After the showing ended, I never heard from him again.  That didn't bother me in the least.

Jun 04, 2008 07:09 PM #15
Lisa Hill
Florida Property Experts - Daytona Beach, FL
Daytona Beach Real Estate

Eric- I hate to say this but the my worst offending client was one of my own family members! I'm a 4th generation Floridian and with each generation and higher education, the knowledge minimizes the bigotry. But there are still a few ignorant people. And I've had the misfortune of having one particular family member, for whom I've sold a couple of properties, constantly crack racial jokes while we were looking for his new home. The statements were not about where he wanted to live. That never came up. They were just ignorant jokes. I kept having to say "I can't discuss race at all or I can lose my license." His response was that he could! He was the most difficult person I've ever had to deal with because he's family. Thankfully, it was only during one car ride that he was being that obnoxious, and it didn't come up again. I think his wife must have lectured him. Thank God!

Jun 04, 2008 10:35 PM #16
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