In response to Tuesday’s Inman column questioning the National Association of Realtors’ response to discriminatory practices, NAR CEO Bob Goldberg defended the trade group’s findings.

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This op-ed was written in response to a previously published article by Chris Drayer: Trim and steering continue to plague housing. So where is NAR?

Connection between race and real estate throughout our nation’s history it is undeniable and remains a key factor in contemporary racial wealth disparities. In recognition of this fact, NAR consistently advocates at the federal level for strong fair housing and fair loan enforcement, as well as federal policies that will help close the home ownership gap among demographic groups.

In addition to our federal advocacy, NAR operates a number of innovative and impactful fair housing activities, programs and partnerships, many of which have been initiated since I became the association’s CEO in 2017.

As the nation’s largest trade association, NAR has a powerful voice that we can use for good, and I and our executive team hold ourselves accountable to integrating the principles of fair housing (and related diversity, equity, and inclusion) into the fabric of this association.

Although there is always more that can and should be done to secure real estate agencies — as members of NAR — work intentionally to eliminate discrimination in real estate, I am proud of what this association has accomplished in this space over the past half decade.

Initiatives to close home ownership gaps

Among the many tangible initiatives we have undertaken in the past year to close the home ownership gap among racial groups are the successful advocacy of Federal Housing Administration loan premium reductions; reduced fees on loans covered by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac; and supporting the creation of special purpose loan programs to meet the specific credit needs of populations that have experienced historical discrimination.

NAR also supported HUD’s affirmative action fair housing support, government-sponsored business equity plans, and increased funding for fair housing enforcement.

In addition, NAR is actively engaged in affirmative action efforts to help this nation overcome its legacy of discrimination. NAR is a founding member and co-chair Black Homeownership Collaborative (BHC), along with the National Urban League, the National Fair Housing Alliance, and the National Association of Real Estate Brokers, among others.

Creating 3M New Black Homeowners

Along with this group, NAR proposed and advocated a seven-point plan with the ultimate goal of creating three million new black homeowners in America by 2030. Just this past May, I wrote an article for The American Genius where I have already described the efforts for BHC takes place in Atlanta – where Freddie Mac estimates that about 205,000 mortgage-ready black millennials continue to rent.

Recently, the NAR Board of Directors (BOD) approved a number of key proposals at our most recent board meetings held on May 11, 2023. These proposals mandate fair housing training for our 1.5 million members and immediately make fair housing training a prerequisite . for anyone currently serving or seeking election to the BOD.

Because half of all US states do not require fair housing training as a condition of licensure, this policy ensures that every NAR member understands their responsibilities under the Fair Housing Act. However, emphasizing and enhancing these trainings represent only the most fundamental elements of NAR’s work to ensure that our members are leading efforts to eliminate discrimination in real estate.

Employees are changing to shape the way forward in fair housing

Several years ago, NAR hired the former head of HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, along with one of his key staff members, to help shape NAR’s path forward in fair housing. Since then, we’ve added two more staff to oversee our fair housing programs.

Our signature fair housing initiative, ACT!, was developed by this team and emphasizes greater accountability, culture change and improved training for real estate professionals. ACT! prioritized accountability among real estate professionals by creating a self-testing program where brokers engage testers to monitor agent practices and inform brokers of fair compliance with housing requirements.

In addition to providing these tools to help mediators with their own police, ACT! the initiative developed best practices for how state licensing laws could be modified. This will not only strengthen pre-licensing training and continuing education in fair-housing, but also ensure that real estate professionals who break the law are held accountable. Finally, NAR called for more funding for federal Fair Housing Act enforcement. We are not aware of many trade associations that have taken such active steps to both self-police and push for stronger government enforcement of existing fair housing laws.

You can find a more comprehensive overview of our fair housing efforts at born real estate/fair-housing.

Actively working to reduce discrimination and promote housing for people of all backgrounds is critical to the health of our national housing market and America’s overall economy. That’s why we encourage our members to continue to do everything in their power to ensure that discrimination has no place in real estate – both in their communities and across the country.

Bob Goldberg is CEO of the National Association of Realtors.

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