Fair Housing: Avoid Treating Customers Differently

Do you see yourself in either of these scenarios?

April 1, 2000

Two prospective buyers walk into the office of ABC Realty. Cindy is white, and Maria is Hispanic. They're both interested in a listing at 555 Lovely Lane. Although they're both interested in the same listing, note how differently they're treated by the salespeople, Amy and John.

Use these scenarios as a jumping-off point at one of your sales meeting to discuss whether all your clients and customers are getting equal treatment.

Cindy's story: I was happy because the listing said the house was in a great family neighborhood. I called ABC Realty and spoke with Amy Jones who asked me a few questions about when I would want to buy a home. I told her we were just starting to look.

We scheduled an appointment for the next morning at 10 a.m. When I got to the office, Amy greeted me and asked if I'd like to see the house. We got into her car, a nice Lexus, and drove to Lovely Lane. On the way we passed by the elementary school where Amy said her kids go. Then we looked through the house. I told her it was nice, but I really wanted a little more room. Amy said that would be difficult because larger houses in that price range were south of Main Street in a less desirable area of town. She wouldn't say what was less desirable about it, only that she really shouldn't talk about it.

We went back to her office, had some coffee, and she told me about a new development, Riding Farm. I got some information and took it home to study. We have another appointment tomorrow.

Maria's story: I knew it was a good house for my family because it had large bedrooms and a big yard. I got an appointment with John Johnson at 2 p.m. the next day. When I got to the office, a little early, the receptionist asked me to fill out a form listing my income, savings, where I worked, everything except whether I had been baptized.

It was hot outside, so I asked for a glass of water. About 2:30 p.m., John came in and acted surprised to see me. He took my form into his office and five minutes later asked me into the conference room. We talked for a few minutes about what my husband would like in a home, then suggested that my husband and I go to the mortgage company next door to get qualified. He helped us get an appointment for the following morning.

After I was qualified for a $150,000 mortgage, more than the house I wanted, I made another appointment for that afternoon with John. He took me to the house on Lovely Lane in his truck and drove by some houses south of Main Street. He said there were some good deals there, too. I liked the house on Lovely Lane and told him. He said to talk it over with my husband and call him back. I'm hoping to be able to buy it--it's exactly what we need.

Stacey Moncrieff

Stacey is executive editor of publications for the National Association of REALTORS® and editor in chief of REALTOR® Magazine.

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