- Civil Rights Act of 1866: “All citizens of the united States shall have the same right in every State and Territory, as is enjoyed by the white citizens thereof to inherit, purchase, lease, sell, hold, and convey real and personal property.”In 1968, the U.S. supreme Court affirmed the 1866 act in Jones v. Mayer prohibiting “all racial discrimination, private as well as public, in the sale of real property.”
- 1968 Fair Housing Law: [Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968]Prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin with regard to the sale or rental of housing and any vacant land offered for residential construction or use. In particular this includes:
- refusing to sell, rent or negotiate;
- discriminating as to terms or conditions;
- discriminating by advertising;
- denying availability when property really is available;
- varying loan terms;
- denying participation in real estate services, e.g. MLS (Multiple Listing Service), or Realtors’ associations, etc.
- steering & blockbusting.
- Fair housing Amendments Act of 1988: Prohibits discrimination based on handicap and familial status (families with children).
- Blockbusting: (“PANIC-PEDDLING”)The unlawful practice of blockbusting is defined as intentionally trying to induce another person to transfer an interest in real estate or discourage that person from purchasing by referring to persons of any particular race, color, sex, religion or national origin, or in any way suggest that the presence of such persons will lower property values, change the racial, religious, or ethnic character of the block, neighborhood or area where the property is located, increase criminal or antisocial behavior in the area or cause a decline in the quality of the local schools.
Congress has declared that blockbusting “cheats homeowners, increases interracial tensions, promotes neighborhood instability and creates ghettos, which do harm to the citizens of Maryland and that it promotes panic, fear and hate for purposes of financial profit.” Blockbusting is always illegal, whether or not the blockbuster is acting for monetary gain. A person who violates the provisions of this law can be found guilty of a misdemeanor and on conviction subject to fine and/or imprisonment.
- Steering is the illegal practice of directing minority members to or away from certain neighborhoods.
- Redlining: Refusing to make mortgage loans or issue insurance policies in specific areas without regard to economic qualifications. this practice contributes to the deterioration of neighborhoods and may be based on racial grounds. However, refusal based solely on sound economic grounds cannot be accused of redlining.
- Housing Discrimination–Elderly: A landlord, real estate broker or agent may not refuse to rent or sell housing to a person 62 years of age or older.
- TESTERS: From time to time real estate agents are approached by fair housing testers. These are individuals or organizations that respond to advertising and visitreal estate offices to test for compliance with fair housing laws. The tester plays the role of a person looking for housing to buy or rent and observes if fair housing laws are being followed. If not, the tester may lodge a complaint with the appropriate fair housing agency.
Antitrust and Real Estate
- Establishing Company commission rates:
- unilaterally without consultation with affiliated or competing firms; and
- insure independent pricing for services.
- Varying compensation among cooperating offices:
- conspiracy claims
- motivations are critical
- Ethical duties: Cooperation vs. Price Fixing
- duty not to solicit the client of another Realtor
- Prohibition against 2 or more brokers agreement regarding cooperative compensation each will pay a 3rd broker. However, normal cooperation agreements should be before an offer to purchase has been procured by the cooperating office.[This prevents cooperating brokers from using a sales contract as leverage to compel the listing broker to modify the terms of a listing agreement.]
- Comparative Advertising: truthful nondeceptive advertising required.