Redfin accused of redlining in lawsuit

National Fair Housing Alliance says brokerage’s minimum home price policy discriminates against communities of color

Redfin CEO Glenn Kelman (Photos via Redfin; Getty)
Redfin CEO Glenn Kelman (Photos via Redfin; Getty)

The National Fair Housing Alliance has accused Redfin of discriminatory policies and redlining, months after the national brokerage’s CEO pledged to address systemic racial discrimination.

In a lawsuit filed Wednesday in the United States District Court in Seattle, the alliance argued that Redfin’s minimum home price policy violates fair housing laws.

“Redfin redlines communities of color in this digital age by setting minimum home listing prices in each housing market on its website under which it will not offer any real estate brokerage services to buyers or sellers,” the complaint said.

“While the actual minimum price varies from one metropolitan area to another, between counties, and between cities within counties, its impact is always the same — buyers and sellers of homes in non-white areas are far less likely to be offered Redfin’s services and discounts than buyers and sellers of homes in white areas.”

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According to GeekWire, which first reported the suit, Redfin CEO Glenn Kelman responded to the allegations Thursday in an email to staff.

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“Our long-term commitment is to serve every person seeking a home, in every community, profitably,” he wrote. “The challenge is that we don’t know how to sell the lowest-priced homes while paying our agents and other staff a living wage, with health insurance and other benefits.”

The response, which was also posted to the company’s website, disputed the allegation that the brokerage had violated the Fair Housing Act, arguing the law “clearly supports a business’s decisions to set the customers and areas it serves.”

This is the latest example of brokerages coming under fire amid accusations of discrimination. In 2019, a Newsday investigation revealed that agents from several brokerages in Long Island were routinely discriminating against minority buyers.

Earlier in the year, after George Floyd was killed by police in Minneapolis, Redfin’s Kelman wrote a blog post pledging to help fight racial discrimination.

But some former agents and staff hit back at the comments, brandishing them as disingenuous.

“They kept on saying how much they value diversity,” one former broker who worked at Redfin’s Boston office told The Real Deal. But, the agent commented, in reference to that office: “Why are there no minorities in a management position whatsoever?” [GeekWire] — Sylvia Varnham O’Regan