This month I’ve been writing about the Fair Housing Act starting with explaining the nuts and bolts, then last week went in to the history of why it needed to be implemented. This week I’ll go in to how my industry not only abides the law but takes it further.
First let’s clarify what I consider ‘my industry’. I am not just a real estate agent, I am a Realtor®. That term, and the big R symbol that’s associated with it, is a trademark of the National Association of Realtors (NAR). NAR is the largest trade association growing from 120 founding members in 1908 to over 1.1M members today. Big deal, what’s the difference? The key difference is we are bound to not just following real estate laws mandated by our government, we are also required to follow a very stringent and specific Code of Ethics that sets us apart as the industry leading professionals we are.
What does that have to do with the Fair Housing Act? In 1974 NAR incorporated abiding by the Act in our Code of Ethics making us accountable not just on a legal level but on a professional one as well. What’s more we strive to rise above and beyond and have added four Standards of Practice to the Article based on interpretations of cases brought against members. This Article and subsequent Standards of Practice have also been amended a total of 13 times to further clarify and tighten the high bar to which we hold ourselves and our industry. These updates and changes include adding two protected classes, sexual orientation and gender identity. Keeping up to date on the Code of Ethics and the Act itself is a requirement of our continuing education in order to keep our status current within the Association.
Further we have been instrumental in political change via the Realtor Political Action Committee (RPAC). This is a member supported and organized, non-partisan committee that lobbies not just for fair housing but many important issues that pertain to homeownership rights. For instance, in the latest changes to tax cod, the Mortgage Interest Deduction (MID) was on the chopping block. Also, the Flood Insurance Act comes up for renewal or deletion every five years. Both these programs are still in play and are huge benefits for homeowners, thanks in no small part to RPAC. As applied to our topic of the month, RPAC and NAR continue to support H.R 1447; S. 1328 which would add LGBTQ to the list of federally protected classes making it unnecessary for local states and municipalities to continue such ventures on their governmental levels.
Hopefully I have illustrated the importance, effects, and impact the Fair Housing Act has had on our society, as well as the passion we professionals have to protect the rights of both property owners and tenants. I am proud to be associated with a group of industry leaders who champion for all.
Next week we’ll see how the March market faired, but in the meantime take care of yourselves and appreciate the ever-evolving world in which we live…
Melissa Berube, 2019 MBOR President