The Fair Housing Act was passed in April 1968. Every April since then, the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) has commemorated its passage with events and education that underscore the need to expand inclusion and learn more about housing discrimination and segregation. Fair Housing Month signifies a continued commitment by Realtors® across our country to expand equal access to housing.
Accountability, culture and training (ACT)
The National Association of Realtors continues to be an industry leader in fair housing. On January 8, 2020, the leadership of the National Association of Realtors met in Washington where they unanimously passed the most recent Fair Housing Action Plan.
NAR documented its commitment to improve fair housing for all in the following press release summarizing the content of the plan for 2020 and beyond. The plan, released by NAR in 2020, reads as follows:
NAR’s new Fair Housing Action Plan, abbreviated “ACT,” emphasizes (A)ccountability, (C)ulture Change, and (T)raining in order to ensure America’s 1.4 million Realtors are doing everything possible to protect housing rights in America. Among other things, the plan specifically commits NAR to the following:
• Work closely with State Association Executives to ensure that state licensing laws include effective fair-housing training requirements and hold real estate agents accountable to their fair housing obligations;
• Launch a Public-Service Announcement Campaign that reaffirm NAR’s commitment to fair housing, and how consumers can report problems;
• Integrate fair housing into all Realtor® conferences and engagements (to include a fair housing theme throughout the May Midyear Meeting;
• Explore the creation of a voluntary self-testing program, in partnership with a fair housing organization, as a resource for brokers and others who want confidential reports on agent practices so they can address problems;
• Create more robust fair housing education, including unconscious-bias training, and education on how the actions of Realtors shape communities.
• Conduct a national study to determine what factors motivate discrimination in sales market
• Profile leaders who exemplify the best fair housing practices and workplace diversity
• Develop materials to help Realtors provide consumers with information on schools that avoid fair housing pitfalls.
Fair housing history at NAR
In 1908 the National Association of Realtors (NAR) was formed. In 1913 NAR established and adopted the Realtor Code of Ethics. The intent was to establish a level of professionalism similar to doctors and attorneys.
When a real estate agent first becomes licensed, it is just an initial step to launching a real estate career. While there is no law that requires a real estate agent to become a Realtor, becoming one advances an agent’s career to a higher level of knowledge, expertise, and professionalism. If an agent chooses to become a Realtor, the agent joins the National Association of Realtors, which has over a million members across the country. Any Realtor member agrees to abide by a strict code of ethics.
The National Association of Realtors has always been a leader in promoting fair housing for all. In Article 10 of the Code of Ethics, it states specifically what a Realtor’s responsibilities and duties relative to fair housing are. The Code of Ethics is updated annually as issues and needs change. In addition to the Realtor knowing the code, it is important for the public to know what the code says. That way, the public knows what to expect from a Realtor in terms of service, and what questions are not appropriate for the Realtor
to answer. The Code of Ethics also includes Standards of Practice to guide the Realtor’s behavior.
Taken directly from Article 10 of the Realtor Code of Ethics:
• Realtors shall not deny equal professional services to any person for reasons of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin, sexual orientation, or gender identity. Realtor shall not be parties to any plan or agreement to discriminate against a person or persons on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin, sexual orientation, or gender identity. (Amended 1/14)
• Realtors, in their real estate employment practices, shall not discriminate against any person or persons on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin, sexual orientation, or gender identity. (Amended 1/14)
• Standard of Practice 10-1
When involved in the sale or lease of a residence, Realtors shall not volunteer information regarding the racial, religious or ethnic composition of any neighborhood nor shall they engage in any activity which may result in panic selling, however, Realtors may provide other demographic information. (Adopted 1/94, Amended 1/06)
• Standard of Practice 10-2
When not involved in the sale or lease of a residence, Realtors may provide demographic information related to a property, transaction or professional assignment to a party if such demographic information is (a) deemed by the Realtor to be needed to assist with or complete, in a manner consistent with Article 10, a real estate transaction or professional assignment and (b) is obtained or derived from a recognized, reliable, independent, and impartial source. The source of such information and any additions, deletions, modifications, interpretations, or other changes shall be disclosed in reasonable detail. (Adopted 1/05, Renumbered 1/06)
• Standard of Practice 10-3
Realtors shall not print, display or circulate any statement or advertisement with respect to selling or renting of a property that indicates any preference, limitations or discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin, sexual orientation, or gender identity. (Adopted 1/94, Renumbered 1/05 and 1/06, Amended 1/14)
• Standard of Practice 10-4
As used in Article 10 “real estate employment practices” relates to employees and independent contractors providing real estate-related services and the administrative and clerical staff directly supporting those individuals. (Adopted 1/00, Renumbered 1/05 and 1/06)
The real estate industry continues to evolve at a rapid pace. NAR recognizes fair housing for all as a priority, and the association is at the forefront of continuing improvement.
By Duane Duggan. Duane has been a Realtor for RE/MAX of Boulder since 1982. Living the life of a Realtor and being immersed in real estate led to the inception of his book, Realtor for Life. For questions, e-mail DuaneDuggan@boulderco.com, call 303.441.5611 or visit BoulderPropertyNetwork.com.