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DOES SYSTEMIC RACISM EXIST?

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Systemic Racism​ in Real Estate

Updated: Oct 2, 2023

Racism in real estate can take two forms: implicit and explicit. Systemically racist policies and practices have been enacted by the federal government, the real estate industry, and banking institutions. These policies and practices have over time: Source

  • Relegated people of color to urban core neighborhoods

  • Fueled white flight

  • Prevented Black families from accessing the same financial products that have helped white people purchase property in the last 90 years. Source

Explicit racism occurs when an individual or company in a position of power takes actions against individuals because they are members of a specific racial or ethnic group. Source


People of color living in rented apartments and prohibited from moving to the suburbs gained none of that appreciation. The result is that today, nationwide, black incomes are on average about 60% of white incomes, but black wealth is only about 5%-7% of white wealth. That enormous difference is almost entirely attributable to unconstitutional federal housing policy practiced in the mid-20th century. This is only one of the many facets of local, state and national policies and laws.


The American housing experience is deeply unequal. The Black and white homeownership gap remains as wide today as it was a century ago: Nearly 74% of white households own their homes, compared with just 44% of Black households. Source


Zoning laws in the U.S. originated in the early 20th century, and for many cities, these zoned areas were specifically segregated by race. Uses that were undesirable or more industrial in nature were often constrained to areas for only racial or ethnic minorities. Source


Racial covenants were finally outlawed by the Fair Housing Act of 1968. But as the document that legally transfers title of a home from one owner to the next, a deed is typically not easily changed without getting lawyers involved. So in many cases the language remains as an unpleasant—and, to a new owner, often wholly unexpected—reminder of the legacy of segregation. Source


Zoning and anti-growth environmental laws and regulations. It’s not enough to talk about the legacy of redlining and racial steering back in the bad old days. We already know that, and we’ve already corrected those problems. Redlining is already illegal. Racial steering is already illegal, although it continues to happen as we so sadly know (see, Long Island Divided). Source


Real Estate Appraisals and Race: By law, home appraisers should never consider race, national origin, gender or religion when estimating the value of a property. Yet homes in Black and Latino neighborhoods appraise for less than their contract price more often than in white areas, according to a recent analysis from mortgage buyer Freddie Mac. Source


If the real estate industry is serious about doing something about systemic racism, then we have to do away with local schools based on arbitrary school district lines and local property taxes. Source


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