In May 2021, Julia Purrington, of the Colorado Foothills Team, along with Government Affairs Committee Chair Kim Herfert, penned an article for Colorado Serenity Magazine, entitled Diversity and Inclusion in Real Estate:
Recently, there has been a lot of buzz about diversity and inclusion especially as it pertains to real estate and fair housing. As an American society, what do we mean by “Diversity and Inclusion,” and how do we practice it? What does this mean to different people? Is there a difference between diversity and inclusion? As your local REALTOR® Association, we’ve been trying to open up this conversation to our membership and we’d like to open the door to the discussion on diversity and inclusion in real estate to the communities that we serve. After all, how can we be inclusive if there is not an open invitation to the conversation?
Diversity is like being asked to the dance… inclusion is being asked to dance. “If you invite me to the party, don’t expect me to sit in the corner… I should be out on the dance floor next to you.” —Emmanuel Acho (former NFL player)
Diversity is recognizing people of different philosophies, races, cultures or ethnicities. Inclusion is inviting and accepting these people who have historically been excluded. Can we go a step further than that and do more than just invite and accommodate? We can’t manufacture diversity, but we can be open to understanding a broader perspective and see things from the eyes of those who have been excluded.
Enacted in 1968 primarily to remove racial restrictions in the housing market, the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. 3601 et seq., prohibits discrimination by direct providers of housing, such as landlords and real estate companies, as well as other entities, such as municipalities, banks or other lending institutions and homeowners insurance companies whose discriminatory practices make housing unavailable to persons because of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, and familial status. Disability was subsequently added by amendment to the “protected classes” enumerated in the FHA 42 U.S.C. 3604.
In addition to Federal laws, many state and local jurisdictions have their own individual
regulations which cover discrimination, diversity and inclusion. Colorado’s fair housing
laws predate federal fair housing laws. On April 10th, 1959, Colorado became the first
state in the nation to pass fair housing laws. Over 60 years later, Colorado’s Fair Housing laws prohibit discrimination based on disability, race, creed, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, familial status, religion, national origin or ancestry. For REALTORS ®, just knowing the laws surrounding anti-discrimination and equity in housing is not enough; these principles need to be incorporated into our professional lives as part of the way we do business.
The National Association of REALTORS ® (NAR) goes a step further and includes specific mandates regarding diversity and inclusion in its Code of Ethics. In 2020, in light of recent unrest in America, NAR went further by adopting the Standard of Practice 10-5, which prohibits REALTORS® from using harassing speech, epithets or slurs based on protected classes. The Statement of Professional Standards provides that REALTORS® are subject to disciplinary action with respect to all their activities. This includes the posting of discriminatory speech and conduct online, especially on social media. This extends to their personal social media outlets and is not limited to postings on their business pages. NAR is demanding that their members stand up as people in our society in all aspects of their lives and treat all individuals with respect. As REALTORS®, we have a professional, moral and ethical responsibility to adhere to these principles of “Diversity and Inclusion” in all of our conduct.
Our local Association, The Mountain Metro Association of REALTORS® (MMAR) supports and is supported by the Colorado Association of REALTORS® (CAR) and the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR). We have these responsibilities to live up to when dealing with clients and their real estate needs. And we feel that we can do more. We are continuing to challenge our membership to better understand the history of discrimination and exclusion, and to understand what it might be like for those who don’t feel included, invited or welcome. We want to be part of the catalyst that allows our local communities to thrive and grow with a diverse and inclusive population.
Based upon what we know about discrimination in housing, this has been an ongoing process since the Fair Housing Act of 1964, as well as Colorado’s fair housing laws of 1958. Each member of our society is a building block, and together we can build a more robust and inclusive society, one block at a time. We, as local REALTOR® members, are building in that direction. We still have a long way to go, and complete awareness of diversity and inclusion is not an overnight process. Together, we can strive for a better today, as well as a better future for our families and children.
Ask if your real estate agent is a REALTOR®, who is bound by NAR’s Code of Ethics. You can find a list of local REALTOR® members on MMAR’s website: mountainmetro.com.