The Fair Housing Act of 1968 is a federal law created to prohibit discrimination in the housing market in the United States. The laws have an effect on almost everyone involved in real estate, from real estate agents, to renters and homeowners. It’s important when looking to buy, sell or rent that you educate yourself on the Fair Housing laws, so you know how to protect your rights.

The Fair Housing Act of 1968 deals with discrimination in the housing industry against people of a certain race, color, religion or national origin. It wasn’t until 1974 when the Act was amended to include discrimination against gender, and finally in 1988 disability and familial status (those with children under the age of 18) were included in the Act.

So what are the basics of the Fair Housing Act?

Steering and Blockbusting – While these words are well-known by developers and real estate agents, most homeowners, buyers and sellers may have never heard these terms. Steering is when a real estate professional will “steer” a minority purchaser’s mind towards a certain area of town, where they may “feel comfortable.” Or basically they are being pushed towards a certain area of town based on race, religion, age, etc. This one can be tricky for new agents, since some will genuinely suggest a certain area of town knowing that their client may feel more comfortable or “at home” in that neighborhood. Most brokers have educated their agents on this matter, however, and if you feel you are unrightfully being pushed towards a certain neighborhood, it’s important to speak up. Blockbusting is similar and is used to push people out of a community by saying or implying that minorities will be moving in, which could affect property values.

Financing – Lending Institutions must also strictly adhere to the Fair Housing Act. Before these laws were enacted, some lenders would red-line certain areas on a map of their city and refuse to loan in those “high-risk areas,” which also usually meant they were populated by minorities. Not only so lending institutions need to lend to any qualified candidate in any location, but there are also very strict laws regarding the kind of interest rate, loan amount and other conditions being fair for each applicant regardless of gender, religion, race, etc. Financing is one of the most important steps in the “American Dream” of homeownership, so it’s extremely necessary that these laws are in place.

To read more about Fair Housing Laws, or to check out our Denver real estate for sale, please visit us at PorchLight.

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