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Housing Discrimination Survey: How Prevalent Is It?

More than 15% of U.S. consumers have personally experienced housing discrimination in rentals or purchases, according to a Homes.com survey. And 30% know little about six main federal programs, such as Sec. 8 housing vouchers, FHA loans and civil rights protections.

CASTLE ROCK, Colo. – A new Homes.com survey shows that the majority of people do not experience housing discrimination.

More than 15% of U.S. consumers have personally experienced housing discrimination as they attempted to rent or purchase a property, according to a new Homes.com survey of 2,000 adults.

But, even more important for real estate agents is that 30% are unfamiliar with any of six key federal housing programs including Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans, Section 8 housing vouchers, private mortgage insurance, the Truth in Lending Act, the Making Home Affordable program and the Quality Housing and Work Responsibility Act. More than half of the respondents unfamiliar with any of these programs have annual household incomes of less than $100,000 a year.

That presents a huge opportunity for real estate professionals and lenders to learn about these programs so they can point potential homeowners and renters in the right direction.

Other survey results

Survey respondents reported encountering bias in one or more scenarios including rental applications (7%), home financing (4%), home searching with an agent (3%), home appraisals (3%) and/or other residential purchase services (3%).

Black respondents were the most likely to face housing bias (56%), followed by biracial/multiracial (45%), Latinos/Hispanics (45%), American Indians/Alaskan Natives (31%) and non-Hispanic whites (12%). The problem also spanned every income level from less than $100,000 to more than $500,000.

The survey also revealed that:

  • Two-thirds of respondents believe housing discrimination exists in their community in varying degrees, with 33% saying it is “not common at all.” The “not common” response was highest in the Northeast with 40% expressing that opinion.
  • 60% don’t know how to report Fair Housing law violations or concerns, despite the fact that one-fifth of that group indicated they had experienced housing discrimination.
  • 31% believe the No. 1 hurdle to homeownership for low-income families is insufficient affordable housing, with 38% of those respondents residing in the West. Other obstacles cited included downpayment costs (30%), lack of access to stable employment (16%), mortgage payment costs (15%) and not enough housing inventory (9%).
  • 62% believe that federal housing policies should actively encourage diverse communities, highlighting the nation’s growing social desire to challenge existing remnants of community segregation in favor of inclusivity and equality.

“Homes.com is passionate about, and committed to, providing education and resources that champion equal access to housing for all,” stated Dave Mele, president of Homes.com. “These survey insights highlight how the real estate industry can help consumers achieve their housing needs, which is why Homes.com is launching a platform to provide those resources.”

© Real Trends newsletter, Dec. 2020.