KIRO Radio's Tom Kelly digs deep into the Puget Sound real estate market
Real Estate

Housing alliance questions level of neighborhood data

The National Fair Housing Alliance is reportedly investigating whether the use of neighborhood-level racial, ethnic, linguistic, and similar demographic information on real estate brokerage and property search websites violates the Fair Housing Act.

The alliance, which represents a group of more than 200 state and local civil rights organizations, is questioning whether such racial information appearing near home sales transactions violates federal law.

These advocates have come after brokerages in the past over the use of such data. For example, in 2009, lawyers for the alliance issued federal fair housing complaints to the Justice Department and the Department of Housing and Urban Development against the real estate brokerage site Movoto.com for using such data on its site, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The alliance's lawyers argued that the inclusion of racial statistics for the neighborhood surrounding property listings "may have the effect of steering prospective homebuyers away … and undermining the promotion of racial integration, one of the purposes of the Fair Housing Act."

Movoto agreed to remove "pie chart" breakdowns of neighborhood racial characteristics that would be displayed with individual property listings. But, like many other real estate websites, it continues to provide community-level racial information, as well as the number of unmarried partner households and "birthplace for foreign-born population."

Most of the data websites are providing includes the ethnic makeup of an area come from public information from government sources, such as the Census Bureau. As such, some housing experts stand firm that the dissemination of such information in connection with property searches does not violate federal laws.

Top Stories

  • Fact Check
    Jason Rantz says actually, there are laws to address negligent gun owners

  • Best in the House
    With Seahawks home games 'sold out' the ticket price of this seat doesn't seem so bad

  • Microsoft's Latest
    Microsoft releases a band that monitors more than just your fitness
ATTENTION COMMENTERS: We've changed our comments, but want to keep you in the conversation.
Please login below with your Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Disqus account. Existing MyNorthwest account holders will need to create a new Disqus account or use one of the social logins provided below. Thank you.
comments powered by Disqus
Listen to the show
Hear Real Estate Today on KIRO Radio
Join Tom Kelly every Sunday at 9am on KIRO Radio to talk Puget Sound real estate.

Sign up for breaking news e-mail alerts from MyNorthwest.com
In the community
Do you know an exceptional citizen who has impacted and inspired others?
KIRO Radio and WSECU would like to recognize six oustanding citizens this year. Nominate them to be recognized and to receive a $2,000 charitable grant.