HUD Rescinds Fair Housing Opinion

January 1, 1997

WASHINGTON, D.C.--The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has rescinded a controversial opinion that allowed buyer's agents to show homes in specific neighborhoods if the buyer made a request based on race or other protected classes.

In a letter dated Dec. 3, Elizabeth Julian, the assistant secretary for fair housing at HUD, wrote that she sent the ''wrong message'' when she told a buyer agency franchise in October that agents don't violate fair housing law if they merely accommodate the specific instructions of clients who state a housing preference based on race or any other protected class. She also said HUD will soon issue more comprehensive guidelines.

Julian's latest letter was sent to a fair housing testing group in Chicago after the group demanded that Julian rescind her previous opinion letter. Michele K. Smith, chair of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OFREALTORS® Equal Opportunity Committee, says NAR also made Julian aware that her initial opinion would be ''perceived as an additional complication.''

''We were not at all comfortable with her original statement,'' Smith says. ''When it first came out, it was frightening. NAR staff and leadership worked diligently to let her know the impact her original statement placed on REALTORS®. It could have been seen as steering.''

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