GATEWAY PERSPECTIVES: Practicing Fair Housing Every Day of the Year

Richard Haggerty | April 20, 2022

HGAR Chief Executive Officer Richard Haggerty

This April marks the 54th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act, the landmark civil rights law signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson on April 11, 1968, that made discrimination in housing transactions unlawful. The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing because of race, color, national origin, religion, sex (including gender identity and sexual orientation), disability and familial status.

To mark the passage of the Fair Housing Act, April is designated as Fair Housing Month. This can no longer be an instance when we attend a seminar and read an article or two about fair housing during the month of April and call it a day. This is a time to renew our commitment to expanding equal access to housing and to re-engage with the tools that are available to us to follow through with our commitment.

HGAR President Anthony Domathoti has continued the Fair Housing challenge that was initiated by last year’s President, Crystal Hawkins-Syska. That challenge includes completing the Fairhaven training, implicit bias training, and the At Home with Diversity Class, all of which are offered online at Nar. Realtor.

Fairhaven is an interactive training platform designed to help combat discrimination in U.S. real estate markets. In Fairhaven (https://www.nar.realtor/fair-housing/fairhaven) which is a fictional town, agents work to close four deals while confronting situations involving discrimination. The program provides agents with feedback as they advance through the simulation, and takes about 60-100 minutes to complete.

Implicit bias training walks agents through how subconscious biases can affect our behavior, actions, and words. It is truly an eye-opening process and, as NAR describes it, the free online workshop (https://www.nar.realtor/videos/bias-override-overcoming-barriers-to-fair-housing) created in partnership with the Perception Institute helps members understand how our unconscious brains stereotype others without our knowing it.

Finally, the “At Home With Diversity” (AHWD) certification course covers how to work effectively with diverse populations so that you can build business success in today’s multicultural real estate market. You can find all of these tools at nar.realtor, and additional tools at Fair Housing (hgar.com).

However, these tools are worthless unless agents devote their time, energy and attention to use them, think critically about the issues, and are willing to change behavior when appropriate. This is not just about staying out of trouble, this is about doing what is right. The Newsday undercover investigation of real estate agents in Long Island revealed deeply troubling behaviors. The three-year study uncovered evidence that brokers and agents subjected minority buyers to different treatment from whites in 40% of transactions. A link to this story can be found at hgar.com, and every agent should read it and watch and listen to the accompanying video and audio embedded in the story.

For too long, some Realtors have been part of the problem. Now, collectively, we have to be part of the solution and place ourselves at the center of efforts to provide and expand equal access to housing.

In closing I want to thank the long-time graphic arts designer of Real Estate InDepth and its predecessor publication, Westchester Realtor, Bart D’Andrea. For more than 44 years Bart has devoted countless hours to make this publication one of the finest trade publications in the country, and we can’t thank him enough for all of his contributions to the success of HGAR’s flagship publication. I wish Bart and his wife Sylvia a happy and healthy retirement!

Richard Haggerty
HGAR CEO