Someone posed an interesting question in the latest issue of the Massachusetts Association of Realtors' monthly magazine, Bay State Realtor.
The question was: Is it discriminatory against handicapped people to advertise a seaside property as a "short walk to the beach."
The answer was: In the 1995 HUD memorandum which addresses this, it specifically states that this type of ad is not discriminatory and it reads:
"Handicap - real estate advertisements should not contain explicit exclusions, limitations, or other indications of discrimination based on a handicap - for example:
However, ads containing descriptions of properties (great view, fourth-floor walk-up, walk-in closets), services or facilities (jogging trails), or neighborhoods (walk to bus-stop) are perfectly acceptable and do not violate the Act.
Realtors are typically very careful not to offend or exclude anyone in their advertising. They know that they have to adhere to The Fair Housing Act which warns against the use of the following phrases:
"Exclusive, restricted, private, no children, singles preferred, male or female only, Catholic church nearby, perfect for physically fit, Hispanic area, prefer bright, healthy person, for active or mature adults.
The fact is that real estate ads have to be worded carefully to avoid violating any laws or creating the feeling of exclusion to any group. Specifically, ads cannot be based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status or handicap.
As an example, if you feel that the fact that your home is a "short walk to the temple" is something that should be advertised in your property listing, you need to focus on other features since this description violates the Fair Housing Act.
To prevent stepping on any of the law's toes, it is best to avoid phrases like:
- Bachelors' paradise (implying a single status)
- Empty nesters (not friendly to families)
- Executive Neighborhood (blue collar need not apply)
- Golf Club area (discriminating against tennis players)
But, seriously, you get the idea. The advise that experts give in this area is when listing your home with a Realtor, be sure to stress the positive facts about the property such as, located on a cul de sac - extensive remodeling, rather than characteristics of the neighborhood that may run contrary to the Fair Housing Act.
It's just safer for everyone.
Do you have questions about buying a home in the Metrowest area? I would love to talk with you. Please feel free to call me at 508-881-6230 - any time or E-mail me.
Copyright 2009 - Claudette Millette, Broker, Owner, TheBuyersCounsel
Ashland, Holliston, Hopkinton, Natick, Newton, Northborough, Framingham, Sherborn, Southborough, Sudbury, Wayland, Westborough