NAR apologizes for housing discrimination

Homeownership rate among Black Americans lags far behind that of whites

National Association of Realtors president Charlie Oppler (Photo via NAR; iStock)
National Association of Realtors president Charlie Oppler (Photo via NAR; iStock)

The National Association of Realtors has issued an historic apology for its role in housing discrimination, but some say it falls short.

Charlie Oppler, the president-elect of NAR, which represents 1.4 million real estate professionals, said realtors have contributed to inequality, which he described as an “outrage to our morals and our ideals,” Bloomberg News reported.

The Black homeownership rate is just 46 percent as of Sept. 30, compared to 67 percent for all U.S. households and 76 percent for white households, according to the Census Bureau.

“We can’t go back to fix the mistakes of the past, but we can look at this problem squarely in the eye,” said Oppler, who is the CEO of Prominent Properties Sotheby’s International Realty in Franklin Lakes, New Jersey. “And, on behalf of our industry, we can say that what realtors did was shameful, and we are sorry.”

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The organization’s past mistakes include opposing the Fair Housing Act in 1968 and barring black members from joining the group. Their exclusion led to the formation in 1947 of the National Association of Real Estate Brokers, which promotes Black homeownership.

More recently, NAR found itself in the crosshairs after a bombshell investigation from Newsday found that brokers on Long Island routinely steered Black homebuyers away from white neighborhoods. The report spurred swift action from elected officials, who demanded an apology from the real estate industry.

Donnell Williiams, president of the National Association of Real Estate Brokers, said the industry apology was insufficient, and did not offer reparations to Black homeowners.

“The difference of Black-American wealth and white wealth is tied directly to homeownership,” Williams told Bloomberg. “They manipulated the entire system.”

[Bloomberg] — Georgia Kromrei