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A Commitment to Fair Housing

Equal access to homeownership a priority for Realtors®

Our communities rely on strong fair housing laws and practices to thrive and ensure the dream of home ownership is available for all qualified buyers.

Realtors® commit to fair housing practices, and every April they commemorate the passage of the Fair Housing Act and recommit to advancing equitable opportunities and expanding homeownership. Passed in 1968, the Fair Housing Act protects homebuyers from discrimination as they get a mortgage, rent or buy a home, seek housing assistance, or participate in other housing-related activities.

Fair Housing Month signifies a recommitment to expanding equal access to housing because, according to the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), real estate discrimination is genuine and ongoing.

A focus on DEI

Vail Board of REALTORS® (VBR) members implement fair housing best practices while focusing on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) in our local resort real estate market. DEI is a term used to describe policies and programs promoting the representation and participation of all people of different ages, races and ethnicities, abilities and disabilities, genders, religions, cultures, and sexual orientations.

Realtors® strive to ensure the basic need of housing is being met and continuously addressed with fair housing practices and thoughtful solutions to increasing home prices.

The VBR created a DEI/Fair Housing Committee as part of this commitment. In its first year, the committee is headed by Vail Board of REALTORS® Director Crissy Rumford, who has served on diversity committees for NAR and the Colorado Association of REALTORS® (CAR).

Rumford brings her perspective to the new committee, including ideas and programs she learned of while serving at a national and state level.

One example of an inclusion program is an access ramp purchased by another Realtor® association. The ramp is available for brokers to check out for showings and open houses, ensuring that those with mobility issues can view the property.

“The association that started that program is in an area with an aging population,” says Rumford. “It started from a necessity of being able to provide access to everyone easily.”

“What makes a person vulnerable to being included may not be visible to the naked eye,” adds Rumford. “Your client may be dyslexic or perhaps colorblind. When your instructions say ‘click on the blue link,’ you should modify your instructions for the situation.”

Going a step beyond

As part of its efforts to oppose discrimination, NAR has a strict code of ethics that all Realtors® are expected to follow. Realtors® who violate any fair housing law, including local and state laws, may face sanctions or expulsion.

Rumford points out that NAR goes a step further than the federal Fair Housing Act by including sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes against housing discrimination.

Beyond observing and promoting Fair Housing Month, the VBR provides continuing year-round education for its members on DEI, including a course titled “At Home With Diversity.” Created by NAR, the class enables Realtors® to work successfully in rapidly changing multicultural markets.

VBR members are also encouraged to visit Fairhaven, a fictional town based on the real experiences of citizens facing discrimination in the home-buying process. Fairhaven is online simulation training for Realtors® that uses the power of storytelling to help them identify, prevent, and address discriminatory practices in real estate.

Rumford is excited about the future of DEI efforts in the real estate industry and the work the new committee will do in our community. Two main goals are member involvement and legislative advocacy around fair housing.

“Beyond education for our members, it would be wonderful to connect our government affairs and DEI committees to lobby for legislative equity,” adds Rumford. “A third goal is to help the underserved in our community find the resources available to them for real estate.”

One available community resource is the “Bold Moves” Housing Initiative created by the Eagle County Housing and Development Authority (ECHDA) to help our local workforce find attainable housing. VBR has made significant donations to the Eagle County Loan Fund, a down payment assistance program that benefits families and individuals in our community.

Bold Moves initiatives include rental assistance, down payment assistance that can be combined with loans, and the Good Deeds incentive program that encourages adding a deed restriction to an open market home in exchange for a cash purchase at closing. The ECHDA also provides free homebuyer classes in English and Spanish to provide specific guidance on navigating the complexities of deed-restricted properties.

“Attainable housing, especially in our resort areas, can be extremely challenging,” says Rumford. “The workforce population is critical and our responsibility as Realtors is to provide equal opportunities for all who wish to fulfill the dream of homeownership.”

Inclusion for All

Rumford also brings a multi-faceted perspective to the real estate industry as a woman and registered member of the Native American tribe Citizen Potawatomi Nation. However, she points out that the basis of DEI is much more than race, citing that being a veteran can be a defining status.

“The concept of DEI clicks for many people when I point out examples, like being a veteran or a woman,” adds Rumford. “Being inclusive means not exclusion. It means inclusion for ALL.”

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