How is the school system? How safe is the neighborhood? What may seem like innocent questions may, in fact, be potentially discriminatory topics for Realtors® to discuss. Originating in the Civil Rights Act of 1964, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1968 which included Title VIII discrimination laws in the sale, rental, and financing of housing, now commonly known as the Act Federal Fair Housing. The Federal Fair Housing Act today prohibits housing discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, and handicap/disability. It also prohibits, among many other practices, directing or channeling protected persons towards certain buildings or neighborhoods.
Source: US Department of Housing and Urban Development. If a Realtor® told a homebuyer that the schools are great and the crime rates are low; however, if he tells a different homebuyer the opposite about the exact same neighborhood, one might suspect that he is targeting or discriminating one buyer over another for a specific neighborhood. Federal law is very clear and is taught to every licensed Realtor® and real estate agent in the country and reinforced during state licensing courses and exams. However, the 2006 Fair Housing Trends Report published by the National Fair Housing Alliance reports that during tests of real estate agents across the country they found the use of schools as an indicator of the racial or ethnic composition of a neighborhood. or community.
Source: 2006 Fair Housing Trends Report, National Fair Housing Alliance
If you experience this type of discrimination, contact your state real estate licensing board to report the incident immediately. By law, we can’t offer opinions about schools and we can’t discuss crime rates or how safe it is in a neighborhood. We can provide the location of resources that can help answer these types of questions:
Commonwealth of Massachusetts
The Living In Massachusetts Executive Office for Housing and Economic Development web page provides rankings of schools by city, independent and alternative school options, as well as performance statistics and colleges, universities, and continuing education. The Executive Office of Public Safety web page titled Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice will provide crime statistics and reports.
The Community Development Department provides demographic profiles of cities and neighborhoods. The School Department website provides information on all Cambridge Public Schools. The Police Department website provides current and historical crime reports and profiles.
When you need information about school or crime, perhaps the most valuable resource is the neighborhood itself. Talk directly to neighbors, schools, and police departments. Neighborhood associations can also be of great help. The statistics represent historical data, but the people who live and work in the neighborhood can tell you about the present and what they have planned for the future.