Definition of "Blockbusting"

Sue Ann Taubert real estate agent
Sue Ann Taubert, Real Estate Agent RE/MAX Elite

Blockbusting is a despicable and illegal racist business practice.

Here’s how Blockbusting happens: a real estate agent, or someone posing as one, comes to a homeowner and instills him (or her) with fear of racial minorities, saying and showing bogus stats that a large number of whatever minority the homeowner prejudicially feared was moving into their neighborhood in large numbers. Because of that, the homeowner would sell the property for a lower market price, and, in turn, the alleged real estate agent would sell at a higher market price to the exact minority the original owner feared.

The practice of blockbusting has been done to White, Black, Jews, and Foreign people, but the most notorious blockbusting practices were done with White and Black, after 1910 when over a million African American from the rural southern states of the United States of America moved north to industrialized cities in need of workers due to the World War I, which recruited many workers to serve in the US Army. The scars of Civil War and Slavery were still open, so profiteers would take advantage of that, and even hire “actors” to create a sense of overwhelming presence of black people in traditionally white neighborhoods.

Blockbusting practices were nationally exposed in the 1960’s with the civil rights movement. Because of it, stricter federal real estate laws were conceived, which made blockbusting harder. For instance: door-to-door real estate solicitation got restricted in several states to avoid blockbusting. The most important measure against blockbusting, however, was 1968’s Fair Housing Act which made (by law) religion, race, and ethnicity of a neighborhood’s inhabitants part of what a real estate agent can’t tell a home buyer client when showing a house.


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