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Very depressing study of realtor discrimination on Long Island

Cardinal FangCardinal Fang 18421 replies159 threads Senior Member
Newsday, the Long Island newspaper, did a three-year-long study where they sent pairs of testers, one white and one non-white, separately to real estate agents, to see if they were treated equally. They were not, at all. The study did white/black, white/Asian, and white/Hispanic pairs. Sadly, 49% of the black testers in the study were treated worse than their white matched counterparts. Hispanic and Asian testers were also treated worse.

For example, two testers posed as married mothers of 4-year-olds. The white tester was recommended predominantly white areas that, the agent assured her, had good schools, and steered away from another neighborhood that, the agent said, had worse schools. The black tester got no such advice, despite specifically mentioning that schools were super-important to her, and was recommended areas with diverse populations. The agent sent the white tester eight listings, in very white areas, and sent the black tester only two listings, in racially diverse areas. The agent asked the black tester for ID before showing her homes, because "That’s what we do with everyone." "Everyone" evidently didn't include the white tester, who was not carded.

In a different case, the agent told both the white and the black testers that she wouldn't recommend houses to them unless they prequalified for a mortgage. When they pressed her, the white tester got the listings but the black tester was stonewalled.

It's very sad that this kind of discrimination remains so widespread.

Read the story. It's detailed. https://projects.newsday.com/long-island/real-estate-agents-investigation/

And if you don't read the story, just look at the map. The recommendations were dramatically different.
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Replies to: Very depressing study of realtor discrimination on Long Island

  • OhiBroOhiBro 381 replies6 threads Member
    edited November 18
    This kind of gotcha “journalism” is disgusting.

    The outcome is predetermined. They’re fishing for certain things, so it is impossible to create an unbiased dataset.

    Also, asking everyone to be treated exactly like one another is simply not realistic, or even right. Over time, everyone develops a sense for different “categories” of people and their preferences. Is something wrong with that?

    And if a black family wants to look for a house in a white neighborhood, tell the realtor. It’s not that difficult.
    edited November 18
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  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 7858 replies66 threads Senior Member
    How incredibly disheartening.

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  • VeryHappyVeryHappy 18618 replies326 threads Senior Member
    I disagree with OhiBro's take on this.

    During the 1960s, the mother of one of my best friends volunteered for the Fair Housing of our county. The friend's mother was white, Vassar-educated, and a doctor's wife. She would call realtors looking to rent an apartment, and then a day later a black woman would call with the same request. Of course the suggested apartments were dramatically different.

    The Fair Housing group made these results very public, and my friend's mother was harrassed with phone calls at 2:00 in the morning with people yelling obscene vitriol at her and saying she was a Communist.

    (Of course I was in HS during the '60s, so I knew nothing about all this. I learned about it at her funeral.)

    I once asked a friend who was a realtor in my affluent town if the realtors steered peple of color to other towns . She said that if the client can afford to pay for a house in our town, she -- and all the other realtors -- would show them! I had hoped those discriminatory days were behind us. I guess not.
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  • roethlisburgerroethlisburger 2890 replies161 threads Senior Member
    edited November 18
    Aren't buyer's real estate agents going the way of the Post Office? It seems to me anyone can find houses they're interested in online. Asking a real estate agent to start your house hunt from square one seems like something out of the 1990s.
    edited November 18
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  • ohiopublicohiopublic 1683 replies31 threads Senior Member
    Really OhiBro?
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  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 7858 replies66 threads Senior Member
    In a hot market a buyer's agent is essential. In our area, houses can sell the moment they hit the market because there is a "coming soon" period so buyers are ready to be first in the door to make an offer. Not having an agent would put someone at a distinct disadvantage.




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  • Cardinal FangCardinal Fang 18421 replies159 threads Senior Member
    Did you read the article, OhiBro? They were careful to document that they used the kind of paired testing that is the only way to determine if discrimination is occurring, and had two experts in that kind of testing to assist them.
    And if a black family wants to look for a house in a white neighborhood, tell the realtor.

    Well the family couldn't do that if the realtor refused to show them any houses, now could they? That is what happened in one of the cases.
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  • IgloooIglooo 8238 replies214 threads Senior Member
    It doesn't surprise me at all. This kind of thing happens all the time. I bet this happens in AirBnB site even more frequently.
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  • OhiBroOhiBro 381 replies6 threads Member
    No, @Cardinal Fang , I didn’t read the article. It smells like tabloid trash.

    A for-profit newspaper isn’t going to invest all this time and money without finding something. They will always find discrimination and racism, no matter where, no matter when.

    Realtors have a very tough job, and they’re just trying to make a buck. What is their incentive to discriminate? And how can discrimination even be objectively defined? Is the white school district truly better? I know many blacks that hate being bused to white schools.

    How much of the realtors’ time was wasted with this “study”? I’m sure they don’t like working for free.

    Is it even ethical to record conversations without consent?

    So many problems with this.
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  • Midwest67Midwest67 3159 replies13 threads Senior Member
    Disclaimer: I don't have any firsthand info on how it works on the ground in 2019.

    In the 1970s, where I live now, no realtors would show a family of color a house north of X Ave. This was a hot topic of discussion in our household with my father involved in local politics and one of my brothers just beginning his real estate career.

    The realtors were protecting their reputations & careers with The Powers That Be. No one wanted to be known as the realtor who was breaking the tacit rules about who belonged in which neighborhoods.

    It would not surprise me one bit if those rules continued to exist today in areas of our country.
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  • roethlisburgerroethlisburger 2890 replies161 threads Senior Member
    In a hot market a buyer's agent is essential. In our area, houses can sell the moment they hit the market because there is a "coming soon" period so buyers are ready to be first in the door to make an offer. Not having an agent would put someone at a distinct disadvantage.

    If you're in that hot of a market, then you would need to already be pre-approved/pre-qualified or be able to make a no contingency offer. The seller will expect that, even if your realtor didn't ask to see it.
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  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 7858 replies66 threads Senior Member
    Yes, @roethlisburger - All financing needs to be ready to go and the only contingency that people accept is sometimes for a home inspection. Plenty of "sold as is" properties too. It was tough for us to find something.


    @OhiBro - You might want to read the article before commenting. I'm much less concerned about the realtor's "wasted time" in light of the blatant discrimination that was uncovered.

    And IMO, school ratings/rankings are objective.





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  • OhiBroOhiBro 381 replies6 threads Member
    Don’t hold anything back, @momofsenior1 LOL
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 79114 replies703 threads Senior Member
    OhiBro wrote: »
    Realtors have a very tough job, and they’re just trying to make a buck. What is their incentive to discriminate?

    Some of the described behavior (e.g. steering buyers with similar financials and stated preferences, but of different races, to different neighborhoods) may be motivated by the agent's belief that buyers of different races have different racist preferences (whether or not that is true for an individual buyer, though individual buyers who are racist are unlikely to directly say so).
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  • mathmommathmom 32547 replies159 threads Senior Member
    I live in a neighborhood which back in the 1960s had formed a "Housing Committee" of the neighborhood association and insisted that they show houses to both white and black families, because they had decided that the neighborhood had become "too black" and had stopped showing it to white families. We only stayed diverse because we worked at it. There is a lot of prejudice out there - some of it conscious, some of unconscious.
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