Fair Housing Act – Calling Foul!

24 Replies


“The Fair Housing Act is a federal act in the United States intended to protect the buyer or renter of a dwelling from seller o...r landlord discrimination. Its primary prohibition makes it unlawful to refuse to sell, rent to, or negotiate with any person because of that person's inclusion in a protected class. The goal is a unitary housing market in which a person's background (as opposed to financial resources) does not arbitrarily restrict access.”
It’s sad that one would immediately try to rule out a woman from purchasing a property simply because she is a women. Makes me wonder what is going on in the mind of such a person! I was interested in viewing a property and the shocking feedback from my buyer’s agent was that the listing agent (who also happens to be the seller) immediately expressed concern when he learned that I was female. “this might not be the right property for a woman..." Why would someone even think, that and worse say it out aloud? I appreciate the concern, if infact that was the case, but how about letting, me “the woman” decide if the property is right for me? I hate stereotypes that peg women as some soft, fragile creature that needs to be protected from this big, bad and horrible world. We are not little children that need to be hand held through life and told what is right or not right for us. We are adults just as our fellow male counterparts. It is bad enough that we live in a very competitive real estate market. To then immediately disqualify a motivated female buyer, as “an unqualified buyer” based on her gender is not only discrimination, it is just outright chauvinistic, wrong and goes against everything that the Fair Housing Act stands for. Shame on this listing agent who shall remain unnamed, for taking such an immature approach to real estate, I guess he still lives in the dark ages! It is sad because in looking at the listing, I came to learn that said listing agent is affiliated with a very reputable company here in Colorado yet it is sad to know that he operates in such a manner.
More often, the fair Housing act comes into play protecting renters from landlord discrimination, but I guess I am living proof that even as a buyer in this crazy market, one should not be shocked when exposed to discrimination from seller. Sad, but I guess we live in a brutal market. Ladies, buckle up, because we are going to have to really prove ourselves by the look of things! Wonder what he would have said if he knew I was not only a woman, but a black woman and a naturalized citizen at that! Sad, just sad!

Report them.  That's a clear violation of the fair housing guidelines.  This makes my blood boil and if I write much more this will turn political, which is not allowed outside the off-topic forum.

My guess is that the statement was more of a genuine concern, perhaps for your safety, as opposed to any type of discrimination. I think you are probably over reacting. But by all means, make your offer.....prove him wrong.

@Annah M. Its sad to say but there are many of those still left. I have seen this get better with time but still has a way to go. I was the youngest in a family of contractors. Three older sisters. One of those sisters went into the family business like me and got it all the time. Let me tell you though she was more than capable of swinging a hammer or anything else related. Years later when I started my own construction business my wife wanted in. It was a joy for me but she got it hard time many times. She had to work twice as hard to prove she was equal which wasn't fair at all. Eventually she became a legend. I still hear stories about her hanging from a second story rafter with a saw in her hand cutting boards. Even from people I have never met. That was twenty years ago. 

I believe people  that have to "worry" about the capabilities of others have individual  disabilities they are trying to hide. I have an idea you will prove any and all of them wrong. 

Sorry @Wayne Brooks even if that's what this agent was thinking, they're still wrong.  And breaking the law.  Its no different than "I'm not a racist but <insert race you don't like> are just <insert asinine reason you don't like them>."  Discrimination is discrimination.

Preach it sister!!!!

Report the agent.  

Name his name here so we can all put him on our list of people to NEVER do business with.

Send me the property listing so I can catch discriminating against me too.  He'll really wish he didn't.

Thank you all for the input.To be honest, I was a little unsure of how to respond to said listing agent’s reaction and that is why I pointed out that, yes, I do appreciate the concern if in fact that was the case, however, that being said, none of us would appreciate being ruled out of an offer simply based on our gender.It is really wrong to make an assumption that someone is not qualified to buy from you, just based on gender alone.It is for this reason that the Fair Housing Act came into place and what saddens me is that the only way he agreed to a showing was after my buyer’s agent pointed out my military background.I served in the United States Army and it is sad that, my agent needed to bring this up to try to win me a showing.My agent tried to convince this listing agent that if I can handle being in the military and seeing what I saw, living in the “supposed” bad neighborhood was the least of my worries, and it is.I know what I can handle and it just saddens me when people presume just based on my gender that I need something “softer, more secure” or else, I will fail.In the military, my MOS was 62 Bravo, heavy equipment mechanic.I am by no means fragile and incapable of taking care of myself and it is truly sad when a listing agent feels the need to bring up my gender as a pre-qualification for showing a property! Wayne Brooks, I do appreciate your comment, but in all honesty, I am not over reacting and I doubt you would feel you were overreacting if you were in my shoes for a minute.Too many times we see stereotypes that rule highly qualified people out of things, and it is comments such as, “you are probably overreacting” that saddens me as it forces those being discriminated against to withdraw and feel that they have no voice.Thank you Jon Holdman, Linda Weygant and Mike Reynolds too for your input. I am encouraged by your positive words and while I know that I may do little to change the minds of those that seemingly have the power in this market, it is important to know too, that there are those out there that like me, view this act as being outright wrong, regardless of the intentions.I would think a real estate professional which is what the listing agent is, of all people would be more aware of the Fair Housing Act, but I guess I am wrong.

Maybe the property is a “adult gentleman club” property, or “adult shop” property, or something similar to it...

LOL, @Mary L.

In the future if this is an issue.. just use your LLC name to make the offer and then sign using a first initial no were on a contract does it spell out gender.. your agent need not relate if your a man or a women.

I was just in CE class for my NMLS license on Thursday and we went through a whole module on this and some of the case studies were exactly as you pointed out.. is this agent wrong if he does this..

and if this is indeed what happened then you have a clear violation and the agent can for a first time offense get reprimanded and a small fine continue to do it and it becomes serious with serious money and were this really hurts is his broker or owner of the company can get fined.. that is if he is not an independent broker with no affiliation to a larger company.

CASH + Credit = Sales  that's all a seller needs to know.. other than negotiate out the inspections. After that who cares really..

So other than your post here what happened did U actually make an offer that was rejected because of Gender ?  or did this comment from the seller preclude you from even making an offer.

Or did the seller instruct your agent not to show you the property because of Gender ??

it would be interesting to hear the actual details in this.. as I have really in all my years never really seen an agent turn down a deal because of this... in the CE class we were all chuckling frankly how any agent could be so stupid..

PS I was just at a walk through yesterday with a new construction I am selling buyer was a single lady .. had no clue until I finally met her.. I don't drill down on contracts to figure out who the buyers are personally.. again my only concern is CASH + Credit = closing.. :)  and now you got me thinking in the investment real estate world we sell A LOT of homes to single ladies .. A LOT...

I'm under contract (finally after 5 weeks) to sell a 4/2 fsbo. The problem was that only one bedroom is on the main floor.  The other 3 bedrooms and 2nd bathroom are up or down steep stairs.

It was a complete waste of time to show my house to young families even though it is right next to an excellent elementary school. That was evidenced by the parade of young families that saw the house and said they'd 'talk it over'.    

I wasted hours and hours showing my house to kids that couldn't reach the railings, nervous parents carrying their kids up and down the steep stairs.

I found myself trying to convey this fact without excluding anyone or discriminating.    I put in the ad 'You will either love or hate that the master bedroom is the only bedroom on the main floor.  Nobody sleeping next door over from you or down the hall.'

I'm not defending discrimination or exclusion in any form, just pointing out that some places may have received significant feedback already about who their target market isn't.

What may be a better way to say it, if the neighborhood is rough for instance, may be 'I wouldn't want my sister living in this hood.'   What can we do I wonder?  

I have sold most of my flips to women! only one time actually was a male involved. They have all been great to deal with! The agent is only hurting himself and I am shocked he would even say something along those lines!

@Steve Vaughan perhaps you could have simply pointed out the specific defect with the property "steep stairs with poorly placed railings" rather than translating that into who would or would not like the property.

What may be a better way to say it, if the neighborhood is rough for instance, may be 'I wouldn't want my sister living in this hood.' What can we do I wonder?

Would the neighborhood have been OK for your brother?  For you? And what makes it rough in the first place?  If statistics show a high crime rate, state that if you feel obligated to bring up the topic.  If its something subjective, your biases may be influencing you.

Wow, great advice on using my LLC, @ Jay Hinrichs, didn't even think of that!Definitely going to implement that just to try to get a fair chance at viewing properties in this already competitive market.Thank you Jay :).As for making an offer, the comment from seller only to some extent precluded me from making an offer. The only way he finally agreed to show the property is my buyer's agent indication that while I was female, I did serve in the United States Army and perhaps that softened him up abit, but sadly by then the damage had been caused and it left me wondering just how many more hoops I would have to jump through with this guy, but I decided to still push forward.I did drive by the property, great home with a few exceptions.I live barely 10 minutes from the property so had seen this property from a distance and thought it was a fairly decent property and in my opinion actually in a great location, security was the least of my concerns.Upon looking closer at the property, we did discover that one thing that a structural engineer would have a problem with is the foundation.There was clear evidence of some issues with that, so the listing price definitely does not support what is being offered and that is not based on any gender perspective.My buyer's agent is an investor himself and has done numerous flips personally and written books on this and he showed immediate concern for the visible huge gaps in foundation, that could cause an issue with inspection.We also looked at the numbers and it just did not seem to add up, leading us to conclude that the property seems way overpriced for the condition it is in.The concern was tactfully brought up, with the intent of still moving forward but to see if he would take a lower offer to help account for the extra cost that would need to be put into making the property safely habitable. I am no stranger to hard work and have actually done quite a few DIY projects on existing investment property and to be honest do not mind properties that require just a little more love to get them up and running again. As far as us presenting out thoughts on the fair offer we were thinking of making, which was very reasonable and based solely on actual MLE cost, he was less than amicable and flat out declined to comment further after stating that the property cashflows and that's that.To each his own, I figured it best to move on.The property has been on the market for close to 3 months now with recent $20K price reduction and to his defense, it might be that he is frustrated at this point that no one is buying and hates the idea of having to go lower.As some say, he may also have been trying to look out for me, just sad that it needed to come out the way it did.He probably is very aware of the structural issues and perhaps thinks that a male buyer would be more inclined to buy and flip the property, I don't know? It has not deterred me from my search.Actually found another property that I really liked yesterday (10/29/17) and put in an offer, waiting to hear back.So when the going gets tough, the tough get going, was just a shocker is all.

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Please, no politics.

Yes thank you @Jon Holdman .  I stand corrected and I hope others will take notice of this kind reminder too.  Thanks.

I think part of the reason we have so many problems is that people refuse to communicate with each other. Instead of posting on this forum, you should contact the listing agent directly and ask them to clarify their comments. Perhaps they have a legitimate concern for you. Perhaps they are ignorant. Maybe they meant something else and it just came out wrong. Maybe your agent misheard what was said and chose to slander the listing agent.

I suspect this is more of a misunderstanding than evidence of rampant misogyny in real estate. Writing this post without all the facts is just another form of gossip.

Hi @Anna M. , I have to wonder what responsibility YOUR agent has in this. Realtors supposedly have to operate by a code of ethics, in addition to following all laws. What is an agent's responsibility when confronted with a clear violation by a peer, especially when it puts their client at a disadvantage? You mention that your agent did some advocating on your behalf in the form of mentioning your military service, etc., but what about mentioning the fact that the other agent was in the wrong? Your agent failed to address the real issue, and in my mind, was somewhat complicit. 

Those who aid and abet discrimination keep the cycle going, and it can be easy to overlook their part because they are often "nice" people who avoid confrontation.I wonder if you have the right person at the bargaining table on your behalf. At the very least, you might want to have a frank conversation about how you want to be represented in the future. I think he missed the mark...

@Nathan G. I respect your comments and your advice.I find it slightly harsh in part and do not agree with it entirely, but I will respect your views.The great thing about forums is that we get to share our experiences, good or bad and that experience may in part help others going through something similar.In the comments received, some pointed out that it appears this is something that is happening, sadly enough.It was a shock to me as I had not experienced it.I am certainly entitled to share my experience on the forum.I do not view it as gossip for if you will notice from my post I have refrained from mentioning said listing agent, company and/or property.So again, I do respect your views, but please understand that when you ask me to communicate with said listing agents, my posts show you the lengths I have gone to.I would beg to differ on further outreach if not directed at finding a resolution, to someone that clearly is/was against me viewing the property in the first place based on my gender.What is that going to accomplish?  The stated message was sent over text that my buyer's agent forwarded and it was not one text but a few clearly indicating the hesitation on said listing agent's part.  So again, while I do not agree entirely with your comments and evaluation of the situation, I respect it, for they are your comments and it is your evaluation and that is the great thing about this forum, is that we all get to share and learn from each other.

@Rachel Bjorklund, something you said really hit home, “Those who aid and abet discrimination keep the cycle going, and it can be easy to overlook their part because they are often "nice" people who avoid confrontation.”I think this is valuable information to us all, myself included and I have actually followed up with my agent to see about addressing this further than simply walking away for if he could do it to me, he will do it to another.Thank you for the positive feedback.It is a sure welcome from the few comments that are quick to want to condemn the post and/or want to turn the blame around.I have liked Bigger Pockets because I thought it was a safe place to come and share my experiences and learn from those going through the real estate journey.So I feel encouraged to keep going despite the few obstacles my search presents, but just slightly disheartened by those that perhaps are seeking only “positive” posts that may not always paint an accurate picture of reality.In life, we are faced with the good, the bad, the ugly.Mine just happened to be the bad/the ugly, but I am happy for the most part to have received great advice from many on BP and for those that may have felt otherwise, or felt that I was making too big an issue of it, I thank you too, for when I look closely to your words there is some wisdom there that I can take away and your input makes me strong in knowing to hold onto what is right.In life you will get those that will agree with you and those that will disagree with you.You have to know what is right for you and keep moving forward so I take all advice given as I continue to plough through any forms of discrimination in my search for that next property.

@Nathan G. Anna wrote

the shocking feedback from my buyer’s agent was that the listing agent (who also happens to be the seller) immediately expressed concern when he learned that I was female. “this might not be the right property for a woman..."

And then

the only way he agreed to a showing was after my buyer’s agent pointed out my military background.

Seems to me the situation is very clear.  Maybe there is a breakdown somewhere between the listing agent/seller and the buyers agent.  But I am willing to assuming Anna is speaking the truth and that she is accurately stating what was said to her.  The seller did not want to show Anna the house because she is a female and only agreed once their arm was twisted.  The fact that there was an initial denial for showing and then a second conversation where Anna's agent had to convince the seller it was OK for her to view the property lends credence to the claim the initial denial was based on gender.  Anna is the victim here.   

I am in no way claiming there is "rampant misogyny in real estate".  I am saying Anna is dealing with a sexist.  There are NO excuses for that.

Thank you, @Jon Holdman, for trying to understand what I set out to share.  

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