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How can buyer’s representatives support fair housing in every aspect of their work with buyers? The Real Estate Buyer’s Agent Council (REBAC) is determined to explore this question and share our perspectives with managing brokers so that buyers are protected from discrimination and brokerages stay on the right side of fair housing laws.

Here are four ways brokers can guide agents to meet the National Association of REALTORS®’ (NAR) standards:

1. Review your policies and procedures. Consistency is the name of the game. For example, it is okay to wait to show a buyer a home until they are pre-approved. Just make sure this policy is applied across the board, not selectively.

2. Discourage buyer love letters. Even though so-called “love letters” have been a common practice and are not illegal by nature, they can prompt sellers to choose a buyer because of their identity, instead of the merits of the offer. To combat housing discrimination and protect your brokerage, consider making “no love letters” an office policy.

3. Discuss the impact of unconscious bias. Scientists have found that our brains associate stereotypes with people who are different from us—often automatically and without our conscious awareness. This tendency, also called “implicit bias,” can cause even well-meaning agents to run afoul of fair housing laws.

For example, an agent acting upon implicit bias could steer clients to certain neighborhoods because of the client’s race or ethnic background. Remember, a lack of intent to discriminate is not an adequate defense. NAR’s implicit bias training video offers additional insights.

4. Encourage your agents to keep learning. Too often, agents think they already understand and comply with fair housing laws; however, these and other resources can help expand awareness of the issues and provide valuable guidance:

Fairhaven – NAR’s new immersive online simulation uses the power of storytelling to help agents confront fair housing issues in the fictional town of Fairhaven. To take the simulation, log into fairhaven.realtor.

Podcast: Ensuring Fair Housing for All – Bryan Greene, NAR’s vice president of Policy Advocacy, discusses the state of fair housing in America and the tools NAR is using to help agents create a more fair and equitable industry. To listen, visit CRDpodcast.com (episode 48).

Today’s Buyer’s Rep – The April issue of our monthly newsletter for REBAC members explores ways buyer’s reps can ensure that fair housing considerations are factored into each step of their work with buyers.

If you are not a REBAC member but would like to read and share this issue with your agents, please request a digital copy at rebac@nar.realtor.

Marc D. Gould is senior vice president of Member Development for NAR, overseeing a wide range of professional development programs for REALTORS®, including the Real Estate Buyer’s Agent Council (REBAC). REBAC is the world’s largest association of real estate professionals focusing specifically on representing the real estate buyer. With more than 27,000 active members, REBAC awards the Accredited Buyer’s Representative (ABR®) designation to REALTORS® who have completed the specialized education and documented experience in working with consumers purchasing a home. To learn more, visit REBAC.net.

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