Definition of "Steering"

Beth Hazy real estate agent

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Beth Hazyelite badge icon

Keller Williams Realty

Impeding and restricting people in various activities based on their race, ethnic reasons, or religion now goes against US laws in effect. In the past, especially in the 1960s, discrimination in real estate often manifested in the form of steering. Housing discrimination or steering is now an illegal practice, and it refers to limiting access, showings, or selling properties to minorities based on the reasons mentioned above. 

Secondly, agents may direct an individual belonging to a minority group to specific neighborhoods away from the majority because they believe that buyers don’t belong in that particular area. A real estate broker steers away or discourages an African-American family from moving to a primarily white community. Racial steering is an example of housing injustice that qualifies as blatant racism. 

The Fair Housing Act outlawed steering in real estate. 

US lawmakers condemned and called the practice of steering unconstitutional in the Fair Housing Act. This essential piece of federal law was created in 1968. It forbids discrimination in purchasing, selling, renting, or financing housing, whether private or public, based on race, skin color, sex, nationality, or religion. At the same time, it sanctioned all US citizens’ right to move wherever they wished. In short, all guns were pointed against racial steering.

Legislators revised the law numerous times, most recently in 1988, including disability and family status. Therefore, the Act protects people with disabilities and single mothers with children against malpractice. Municipal legislation may add provisions to these rights in some states, but they must not lessen or curtail them. In conclusion, the Act terminated many horrendous instances in the housing market.

Examples of steering in real estate

Let’s investigate some housing discrimination instances from the past. Unfortunately, bias and intolerance, especially racial steering, may still occur when one intends to rent a unit, purchase a home, or sell a property.

Landlords steer potential tenants away from an apartment.

Dealing with a landlord can be difficult. Here’s a racial steering example 101. Let’s suppose a landlord offers renting options for a person over the phone. Upon personal meeting, the landlord discovers that the future tenant is of African-American origins. Then, they falsely declare that the rental unit has already been occupied. 

Later, the landlord will rent out the same apartment to another individual of a different race. Once you encounter such an instance, turn to authorities, and you can file a complaint. You might also wish to look into landlord-tenant rights.

You can’t buy this! Discrimination at showing properties

A housing agent declines to show a property to certain people of different ethnicity or race at an open house in specific neighborhoods. Then, the homebuyer becomes a victim of racial steering. In other cases, the agent encourages a buyer to move to another community, falsely advertising the new area being more suitable for them and available at the same price range. They will unethically presuppose that, for example, a Latin family will feel more comfortable in a predominantly Latin district.

Mortgage lenders asking a higher interest rate

A mortgage banker or another lending institution imposes a higher interest rate on a loan application to purchase a property. They can steer people to a loan agreement with less advantageous terms and conditions based on their nationality, gender, or race. In addition, the lender can also influence the mortgage borrower to buy a home in a neighborhood other than a predominantly white one. Thus, we have an appalling racial steering case again. This practice is similar to redlining.

Steering based on property limitations

Physically challenged tenants or buyers living with a disability may not access multifamily condos because the building hasn’t met accessibility standards. For instance, a buyer in a wheelchair would be discouraged from such an estate because they won’t have means of entry to their apartment or parking lot. 

The most straightforward, ethical, and legal solution is local estate agents listening to their client’s needs and offering them housing options in the neighborhood they prefer.

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