LGBT Homebuyers and Realtors Receive Industry Protections
by Josef Molnar
The National Association of Realtors (NAR) has extended its code of ethics nondiscrimination policy to include sexual orientation. The organization passed an amendment to the policy with a 93 percent majority at its annual convention in New Orleans on Tuesday.
The expanded policy means that Realtors cannot discriminate against buyers and sellers based on their sexual orientation, which NAR defines as being homosexual or heterosexual. In addition, Realtors are prevented from representing clients who discriminate against buyers or sellers based on their sexual orientation.
“We feel that we needed to be out front on this and go beyond what is required by law, as far as treating all clients and customers equally,” said Lucien Salvant, an NAR spokesman. “Anyone who consults with NAR, and [all NAR members], are required to treat people equally in seeking to sell or buy property.”
The code of ethics also applies to the association’s hiring practices, as well as real estate agencies who employ Realtors.
“I think it puts our money where our mouth is,” Salvant said. “Not only are we saying this is the way agents should conduct their business, but internally we are going to practice what we preach.”
According to the NAR website, agents who violate the code of ethics can be reprimanded and disciplined by NAR member organizations, or the organization itself. Realtors may also be fined or their membership can be suspended or terminated for serious or repeated violations.
The amendment was greeted with a standing ovation by the vast majority of the delegates, said Leslie Wilson, a local Realtor who was present at the meeting. The National Association of Realtors claims 1.1 million members across the country.
“We understand this is not some professional association making a change,” said Wilson, who said about 75 percent of his clients are female couples. “This affects millions of people. It’s not something we could get from the federal government, but we have it in our profession.”
Delegates to the convention represent their respective local organizations, such as the Houston Association of Realtors, and each member organization receives one delegate and one vote, regardless of the size of the local membership. A delegate from Arkansas requested a vote by ballot, which prevents public knowledge of which delegate voted for or against the measure.
The amendment was suggested by Jeff Berger, founder of the National Association of Gay and Lesbian Real Estate Professionals, which is based in Del Ray Beach, Fla. and represents 400 members across the country. The proposal was introduced to the NAR by Berger and NAGLREP vice-president Eric Kodner, last year through the Wisconsin Realtors Association; the two groups were instrumental in helping to push the process through the various committees before the NAR board of directors voted in favor of it in May.
National Association of Gay and Lesbian Real Estate Professionals www.naglrep.com