Diversity is a broad term. In real estate, it means representing all communities with a variety of racial, ethnic, socioeconomic, and cultural backgrounds, and a wide range of lifestyles, experiences, and interests. It is recognizing and representing different demographic groups in a given market area resulting in better advocacy for homeownership and private property rights.
For Vail Board of REALTORS® (VBR) Chair, Kevin Kuebert, diversity in the Eagle River Valley includes both residential and commercial demographics, weighted heavily in resort and hospitality due to our premier proximity to year-round outdoor recreation.
“From a leadership standpoint in our community, diversity should be inclusive of not just different societal cultures but also inclusive of a variety of businesses, taking into consideration the needs and backgrounds of our community members and our visitors.”
Unfortunately, diversity in real estate has declined in recent years, culminating in 2020 with racial unrest and the pandemic-induced economic downturn exposing housing inequities across the country. In response, the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) took steps to reaffirm their commitment to fair housing by examining organization policies including the Code of Ethics and training materials pertaining specifically to diversity in real estate.
Code of Ethics
There are several laws that address discrimination in the U.S., the Civil Rights Act of 1866, Fair Housing Act, Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Equal Credit Opportunity Act. NAR supports these laws with the Realtor® Fair Housing Program to provide resources and guidance for Realtors® to ensure equal professional services for all people.
“Discrimination has been a problem throughout our history,” says Kuebert. “When you choose to become a Realtor, you commit to the standards of the NAR, including the Fair Housing Program and its Code of Ethics. This truly differentiates licensed real estate agents from Realtors. It’s important to educate our community about the difference between the two. Realtors are held to higher ethical standards than licensed agents. Members of the VBR are also members of the NAR and abide by the Code of Ethics.”
November 2020, the NAR's Board of Directors voted to strengthen the Realtor® commitment to upholding Fair Housing ideals by approving a series of recommendations from NAR’s Professional Standards Committee that extend the application of Article 10 in the Code of Ethics to include discriminatory speech and conduct outside of a member’s professional real estate practices, making it a violation for Realtors® to use harassing or hate speech toward any of the protected classes including race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin, sexual orientation, and gender identity. Not only did the NAR approve the crossover of the Code of Ethics into a Realtor’s® personal life, they also implemented a Code enforcement mechanism.
According to the NAR, this move was in response to local, state, and national complaints about discriminatory speech, in particular, on social media platforms recently highlighting discrepancies in people’s behavior between their personal and professional environments.
In Kuebert’s opinion, “This has been building over time and it needs to be at the forefront for all our Members. With the pandemic way of life, people are spending more time at home and online, with more time for social media—be it positive or negative. The NAR is taking bold steps with the changes to the Code of Ethics, and supporting their decision with tools like the Fairhaven simulator, and even just recently, adopting the Urban Institute’s five-point framework created to face the increasing gap between white homeowners and all minority communities.”
“It’s important for my Realtor colleagues to be aware of the changes to the Code and the consequences for violating the extended application of Article 10,” continues Kuebert. “It’s not just about your business, as Realtors we are out there representing our industry to our community and visitors. Upholding the standards outlined in the Code is something that will affect your business as well as your personal standing in our community.”
VBR Tools and Training
The VBR exists to support its members and community through education, technology, philanthropy and advocacy. Association Members are committed to the NAR’s Code of Ethics and recent changes to the Code apply to our local professionals. As of late, the VBR has been busy planning upcoming educational opportunities and promoting effective tools like the Fairhaven Simulator for members and non-members to learn how recent changes will affect their professional and personal life.
June 23 and 24, the VBR is offering an At Home with Diversity® (AHWD) certification course. The course work is designed to promote Realtor® success in rapidly changing, multicultural markets. The course covers diversity sensitivity, how it applies to U.S. fair housing laws in the real estate business, and the development of professional guidelines for working with people in this changing multicultural real estate market. Professionals can sign up for this course at VBR.net.
Kuebert also recommends all of his colleagues take some time to experience the Fairhaven simulator, an interactive training module that coaches Realtors® in recognizing and confronting discrimination in homebuying. Members can log in to the simulator at fairhaven.realtor.
“For me, Fairhaven had a positive impact. I logged in as soon as it was released to our industry,” said Kuebert. “It’s really interesting and shows how individuals can be inconsistent with responses to situations. It highlights the need for, and explains how to be as consistent as possible with people. It demonstrates what it looks like to treat everyone the same. It gives you half a dozen scenarios to work through and provides feedback on your personal response. I think everyone in our industry should take it. It doesn’t take very long.”
The Vail Board of Realtors® is a professional membership organization with more than 700 REALTOR® members and over 100 Affiliates who provide a variety of real estate services. To learn more about the VBR, visit VBR.net.