Fair Housing Month: Let’s all remember….

It’s fair housing month, and we have a great reminder from our state counsel about what you can do to honor our commitment to inclusion and equity this month.  The Berkshire REALTORS Diversity Committee is meeting tomorrow, so expect more news locally, but in the meantime, please make sure you are referring to the Fair Housing Field Guide in your office meetings to discuss real life scenarios and how best to handle them for fairness to all.  Here is our legal reminder: REALTORS® play a pivotal role in ensuring fair housing compliance throughout a transaction.

When working with buyers, not only should REALTORS® ensure that equal access to available properties is provided, but also that prospective buyers are not directed towards or away from certain neighborhoods based on demographics. Do not make assumptions about where a prospective buyer might like to live; buyers should be provided the opportunity to make that determination on their own terms. Your job as their REALTOR® is to be a resource to aid the buyer in making the right decision for them.

Similarly, when taking a new listing, REALTORS® should have a conversation with the seller about the importance of fair housing. Many sellers may be tempted to use impermissible criteria, such as race or familial status, when determining whether to accept one offer over another. REALTORS® must counsel sellers that such determinations need to be made on neutral criteria. An offer should be accepted based upon the strengths of its terms rather than on who submitted the offer.

Both REALTORS® and sellers face potentially significant liability under state and federal law for failure to adhere to fair housing laws. Additionally, REALTORS® may also face additional sanctions for a violation of Article 10 of the Code of Ethics, as well as by the Board of Registration for Real Estate Brokers and Salespersons for a violation of license laws.