When you’re planning to sell your home, you most likely want it sold at the best price and as quickly as possible. But if you inadvertently discriminate against potential buyers, not only do you run the potential risk of missing out on a great offer, you may risk violating the law.
The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in the sale, rental or financing of a property based on race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status or national origin. Be sure to also check local ordinances that may cover additional protected classes.
These laws were put in place to ensure equal housing opportunities for all Americans. But many people don't understand exactly what "fair housing" means. And that's not surprising. Although the concept seems simple, there are situations where it gets a little complicated and harder to discern. Here are a few examples of potential violations:
· Refusing to sell your home to a single woman with several children
· Advertising that you’d prefer to sell your home to a Christian family
· Falsely denying that your property is for sale because the person who’s asking doesn’t share the same ethnic background as your neighbors
Is that ad a good idea?
You may think targeted marketing is a good way to promote your home, but be careful. Advertising your home only in a geographic area populated by a certain ethnic group or promoting your listing in media that only serve a particular religious audience can violate fair-housing laws. Go ahead and advertise your home in your church’s newsletter—just make sure that’s not the only place you advertise it. Your Texas Realtor can help ensure you comply with these rules.
Let someone else be helpful
While buyers are looking, they may have questions about the neighborhood, such as the nearest grocery store or traffic concerns. But be careful how you respond if a buyer asks about things like the neighborhood’s racial, ethnic or religious demographics. It’s best to direct buyers to sources of that information—the Census Bureau or local school district—rather than answer yourself. Better yet, refer these questions to your Texas Realtor.
Also, if you ask your Realtor to eliminate or include certain buyers based on any of the protected classes, she legally cannot follow your instructions. Don't be offended or angry. No matter how benign the request may seem, it would be a violation of fair housing laws and she would be risking a hefty fine, her reputation and her career.
Work with a professional
Texas Realtors adhere to a strict Code of Ethics that holds them to an even higher professional standard than what state and federal laws require. Texas Realtors also participate in education and outreach programs to promote fair housing to the public.
The home you live in plays such an important part in your life. When buying or renting a home, everyone—no matter their race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin—deserves the right to be treated fairly.
The Greater Fort Worth Association of REALTORS® is one of more than 1,400 local boards and associations of the Realtors nationwide that comprise the National Association of Realtors. The Greater Fort Worth Association of REALTORS serves approximately 3,200 members by providing MLS services, education, governmental affairs, etc. For more information, visit www.gfwar.org.