Real Estate Leaders Speak Out Against Racism

June 2, 2020

Nationwide protests over police brutality and racism stemming from the homicide of George Floyd has prompted the real estate community to speak out and vow change.

On Tuesday, the National Association of REALTORS® released a statement by President Vince Malta calling Floyd's death senseless and tragic. Malta expressed his sympathies for the family of Floyd and other families throughout the country who have experienced similar pain and grief. Read the full statement here.

"Our neighbors in the communities where we work and live across America should feel safe and free from discrimination," Malta said. "As longtime champions of fair housing, equality and inclusion are among NAR’s most cherished values. NAR is committed to leading the way on policies that address racial injustice and that build safe and inclusive communities. Building the future begins with equal access to housing and opportunity for all."

Gary Keller, CEO of Keller Williams, wrote a letter to agents on Monday that began: “I’d like to make one thing clear: Racism is wrong, and Keller Williams stands with the black community and wholeheartedly supports equality.” Keller said the firm will create a task force of its International Associate Leadership Council to develop recommendations for action to eliminate racial disparity within its company and the industry and vowed to help lead change within its communities.

“I will be reaching out to your regions immediately to ask for a nomination from each to join us in this critical effort,” Keller wrote. “I believe we can also set an example within the industry by committing more of ourselves to a better, and equitable future.”

Keller also urged all staff to self-reflect, listen, learn, and speak up to bring about change. He urged sales associates to reach out to their local real estate boards and ensure racial equality is reflected in positions as well as to support initiatives and measures that are crucial to racial and social justice.

“I believe that the real estate community has a unique opportunity to promote healing and reform,” Keller’s letter reads.

Glenn Kelman, CEO of Redfin, also vowed to do more within his company. “The most obvious thing is hiring and developing more people of color to positions of power,” Kelman wrote on Redfin’s blog on Sunday. “We say that we believe talent is equally distributed between people of different races, but most businesses, including Redfin, are run mostly by white people.”

Kelman says later this month the brokerage will publish its annual report on employee diversity and its diversity initiatives and intends to go into more detail about what’s working, what isn’t, and what’s next. He also committed to greater education within their workforce about race and real estate. “Let’s commit as businesses and business people to serve blacks and other people of color better,” Kelman wrote. “Companies that employ hundreds or thousands may feel it’s beyond our control to stop one grocer or bank teller or broker from jumping to the wrong conclusion about a customer, and doing something racist that hurts that customer, and stains our reputation for years.”

Compass CEO and co-founder Robert Reffkin described himself as a “black man who has felt out of place his entire life.” He shared via a companywide email that he sent to employees on Sunday: “I’m heartbroken that all this pain we’re feeling, all of the energy being generated all of the moral clarity that a moment like this creates—might still not lead to enough change.”

REALTOR® Magazine and “America in Crisis: Real Estate Leaders Address George Floyd Protests,” The Real Deal (June 1, 2020)