October 10, 2016

Realtors affirm Fair Housing commitment standards each April


Normally April is the month real estate professional are making  final preparations for the housing market's prime season. It's also the month they set aside to observe the 1968 anniversary of Fair Housing Act.

But 2016 is anything but a normal year.

 The market started the year with a bang and is just now showing signs of easing. You know things are busy when the February Northeast Tennessee year-to-year sales growth rate was higher than it was in Nashville.  It's began settling down in March. Settling down means it's still forging a robust post-recession sales benchmark - just not at a double-digit growth rate. 

Despite the obvious distraction, Realtors have committed extra time to recognize the significance of the Fair Housing Act and reaffirm their profession's commitment to upholding fair housing laws.

Realtors are constantly committing their best efforts to build communities and an environment where everyone, regardless of race, color, religion, sex or disability can choose where they want to live.

The tenets of how Realtors have embraced the Fair Housing Act are best illustrated with their Fair Housing Declaration. It reads:

"I agree to:

    "-  Provide equal professional service without regard to the race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin of any prospective client, customer, or of the residents of any community.

    "- Keep informed about fair housing law and practices, improving my clients’ and customers’ opportunities and my business.

    "- Develop advertising that indicates that everyone is welcome, and no one is excluded; expanding my client’s and customer’s opportunities to see, buy, or lease property.

    "- Inform my clients and customers about their rights and responsibilities under the fair housing laws by providing brochures and other information.

    "- Document my efforts to provide professional service, which will assist me in becoming a more responsive and successful REALTOR.

    "- Refuse to tolerate non-compliance.

    "- Learn about those who are different from me, and celebrate those differences.

    "- Take a positive approach to fair housing practices and aspire to follow the spirit as well as the letter of the law.

    "- Develop and implement fair housing practices for my firm to carry out the spirit of this declaration."

While some may look at the fair housing as something to worry about when putting together an ad or showing properties, others take that extra step and make a commitment to promote fair housing and a better quality of life for everyone in their communities. It's not only the right thing to do- there's a pragmatic reason for that type commitment.

It's good business.

Housing is a major factor in defining a person's quality of life. Where you live affects your access to social, cultural, educational and other community amenities like medical services, schools, employment, transportation, retail and professional services, recreational and entertainment opportunities. In other words, housing discrimination is a denial of the opportunity to fully enjoy the American Dream of home ownership and providing a better quality of life for next generation.

Realtors see and appreciate how important this principle it is to their role in the ongoing effort to help improve the quality of neighborhoods and communities.

Like many other facets of the real estate market, fair housing issues are constantly evolving. That's why Realtors keep up with those changes through continuing education - much of it from the National Association of Realtors. Through that, they build a better understanding of demographics of their communities and the changing needs of homeowners.

It’s a fact of life that more and more people are relocating to Northeast Tennessee. At the same time the demographics of the nation of changing. Both mean an increase in diversity. Of special concern to this part of the state is the realization that the overall population is aging. As the demand for housing by these groups increases Realtors will be there to serve them with a commitment to fair housing principles.

Marsha Stowell is the 2016 president of the Northeast Tennessee Association of Realtors. The real estate education and trade group is the voice for real estate in the Tri-Cities and has over 1,000 local Realtor® members and almost 60 affiliates