Real Estate Agent Apologizes for Past Discrimination, Pushes for Change


st. RUI (AP) — Abdul Kaba When his Abdullah decided to sell his home two years ago, he bought his well-maintained four-bedroom home, based on a pre-sale valuation. he listed $175,000.

But when the buyer made an offer, the appraiser valued the house at just $150,000 and the bank wouldn’t provide a loan at the original asking price.

Curious, Abdullah looked at the appraisal report and discovered that the photos weren’t even from his home in the predominantly black neighborhood north of St. Louis. The photo was pulled from the internet and was not a new photo showing the updates he made.

“I could see right away that there was a problem here,” said Abdullah.

that is The struggles black Americans have lived through decades.Some leaders are now real estate business While we apologize for past discrimination, we are committed to addressing issues that remain.

Last month, St. Louis Real Estate Agents, the largest real estate trading group in the St. Louis area, issued a formal apology for past discriminatory practices. The National Association of Realtors issued his 2020 apology.Atlanta and Chicago Shows similar reflections.

“The discrimination suffered by the black community is federally led, backed by the banking system and the real estate industry, and apologies from Redline and St. Louis realtors said.

St. Louis was notorious for housing discrimination in the mid-20th century.Black applicants were frequently denied mortgages, white homeowners were encouraged to move by realtors as neighborhoods began to consolidate, and certain areas of the area were “red-lined.” meaning It was almost impossible to get a loan to buy a home in these areas.

Will Jordan, executive director of the Metropolitan St. Louis Housing Equity Council, says change is moving too slowly.

“Red lines and those sorts of issues are still ongoing in the St. Louis metropolitan area,” Jordan said. “I’ve seen a memo written by a bank about an appraisal saying, ‘Nothing north of Del Mar could ever be as good as this. Let’s rewrite this.'” It is infamously known as the dividing line between white and black neighborhoods.

“North of Delmar, it is still very difficult to get banks to finance,” Jordan said.

That’s part of the reason the once-bustling north side of the city has struggled in recent decades with rampant crime, high vacancy rates, and a dilapidated housing stock.

Katie Berry, president of St. Louis Realtors, said past discrimination was no coincidence. A map of the federal loan program used green lines to indicate where loans were approved. Mainly white areas. The red line indicated high risk, and “those areas were black or integrated communities because there was a theory that consolidating communities would reduce home values,” she said.

Worse, as consolidation began in neighborhoods, realtors began participating in so-called “blockbusting.” The agent helped a black family move into a white neighborhood and said, ‘Hey, did you know this black family moved in? You should list your house with me. Get out of here quickly,” said Berry.

On the other hand, the provisions of the National Association of Realtors’ Code of Ethics from 1924 to 1950 stipulate that real estate agents “have no property or resident characteristics, members of any race or nationality, or whose presence is manifestly detrimental.” “Avoid bringing any individual into the neighborhood.” to property values ​​in its neighborhood. ”

A report released earlier this year by the National Association of Realtors found that 72.1% of white Americans own a home, compared to just 43.4% of black Americans. The report also found that black and Hispanic applicants for mortgages were much more likely to be denied than white and Asian applicants.

Brian Green, the NAR’s vice president of policy advocacy, said the apology was important because realtors “need to make amends for our failures.”

The Atlanta Real Estate Association apologized in 2021 for past discriminatory practices.

“We cannot change history, but we can choose to learn from the past, make strong decisions for the present, and act with the intention of writing future chapters that leave a positive legacy.” ‘” then-President Cynthia Lippert wrote in her apology letter.

In 2019, Chicago Real Estate Association President Tommy Choi apologized for being “on the wrong side of history” on behalf of the organization.

Lydia Pope, president of the National Association of Real Estate Brokers, which promotes black homeownership, said the apology was a good start.

“Show that you want to do better and that you want to do more to create an environment where everyone is treated equally,” Pope said in a statement.

The NAR has taken several steps, including the creation of the Fair Housing Policy Commission, Green said. The national group also adopted an action plan for 2020 that emphasizes accountability, cultural change and training of local real estate agents in fair housing practices.

As part of its commitment to change, Atlanta real estate agents are being trained in unconscious bias and are seeking relationships with diverse real estate associations such as the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals and the LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance, he said. the group said.

In St. Louis, the National Association of Realtors hired a director of diversity, equity, and inclusion to work with lawmakers to reduce barriers to minority homeownership, address housing vacancies, and attract more black realtors. We encourage you to invite.

Berry knows that change won’t happen quickly.

“People have been hurt for generations,” she said.

Abdullah, 44, is executive director of Park Central Development, a company working to attract investment and keep people at home in St. Louis. As such, he is well versed in fair housing laws. From the beginning, he questioned appraisals of his home by appraisers from neighboring counties, who were mostly white.

When Abdullah filed a complaint with Jordan’s office, the bank eventually agreed to increase the value of the loan to $160,000 and Abdullah sold it. Still, he asked the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to investigate. The case remains unresolved.

“I never thought that doing this job would exempt me from these things that were happening to me,” Abdullah said. I have.”