Real estate apps may lead to segregation: opinion

Increased access to demographic data could lead to self-sorting

TRD New York /
May.May 04, 2014 05:00 PM

 Recently new high-tech resources, such as apps and listing websites, have changed the way Americans shop for real estate. But could increased access to information lead to segregation? Reporter Teke Wiggin thinks so.

For decades, fair housing laws have limited the demographic information a real estate agent can share with buyers. But real estate listing sites and apps often provide localized data on sex offenders, school ratings, crime stats and neighborhood demographics, which can include everything from political leaning and educational attainment to age and race, according to Bloomberg Businessweek.

Wiggin argues that this level of access to sophisticated data will allow buyers to self-sort. And as the New York Times’ A.O. Scott has pointed out, even seemingly useful information, such as school rankings, can allow for segregation.

“New Yorkers, like most Americans—white, upper-middle-class Americans in particular—prefer to address such matters through an elaborate lexicon of euphemism and code, speaking of ‘good schools,’ ‘sketchy’ blocks and ‘improvements’ in the retail and culinary amenities,” Scott wrote. [Businessweek] Christopher Cameron 

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