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Realtor.com, Redfin Remove Listings’ Crime Data

The real estate ad companies decided to remove crime data because it’s often inaccurate and has been cited as an ongoing cause of racial bias in housing.

WASHINGTON – Realtor.com and Redfin are taking a stand against crime data listed on their websites. The real estate companies have removed the data due to growing concerns that it could perpetuate racial inequity.

Realtor.com said it removed its crime map from all search results to “level the playing field.” It’s now reassessing what safety means to buyers and renters, and what information they decide to share about it going forward.

After surveying consumers and evaluating research, Redfin said it felt that its crime data doesn’t accurately answer the question, “How safe is the area around this home?”

Also, “given the long history of redlining and racist housing covenants in the United States, there’s too great a risk of this inaccuracy reinforcing racial bias,” says Christian Taubman, Redfin’s chief growth officer.

Taubman says its crime data is mostly culled from the Uniform Crime Report from the FBI that reflects reported crimes. However, it excludes information about unreported crimes or those that go unsolved.

“The fact that most crimes are missing creates a real possibility that the crimes that show up in the data set skew one way or another,” Taubman says. “And the fact that most reported crimes go unsolved means that some of the crimes being reported, in fact, may not be crimes.”

Realtor.com says it plans to determine what neighborhood safety means for buyers and renters who use its site to “reimagine how we integrate safety data on realtor.com,” says David Doctorow, CEO of realtor.com in a company update. “Our goal is to ensure we are providing consumers with the most valuable, fair and accurate neighborhood data so they can make informed decisions about where they want to rent or purchase their next home.”

Source: “An Invitation to the Industry: Address Fair Housing Together,” realtor.com® (Dec. 13, 2021) and “Two Major Real Estate Search Engines Nix Crime Data in Racial Equity Push,” Washington Examiner (Dec. 14, 2021)

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