Real Estate Search Engines Just Went Woke, and You Could Be Paying for It
As an inactive, licensed real estate agent, I was perplexed by a new trend on real estate websites. I know a lot about real estate and what people want to know the most is crime data, and local school information. So, it surprised me when I read in the Washington Examiner the article “Two Major Real Estate Engines Nix Crime Data.”
In a push to help minorities become first time home buyers, Realtor.com decided to remove crime data from its website. The idea is that minorities are being kept back from the best properties and realtors are making it hard for them to buy in nicer areas. David Doctorow, the CEO of Realtor.com, made this statement: “As a relative newcomer to the real estate industry, I’ve been struck by how entrenched this problem is...Stories abound about Black, Hispanic and Asian homebuyers receiving unequal treatment, starting with their ability to see whatever homes they like, and continuing through to the appraisal and mortgage processes.”
First, this statement is insane. If a minority finds that they have been kept out of an area due to their race, the real estate agent would lose their license and have a heck of a lawsuit coming at them. If lenders did not give to someone because of their race or religion, that would be redlining, and they would have the same issue. The actual problem is poverty and the poor credit and debt to income ratios that come with it.
The second major issue is, how does leaving out crime data help minorities find the best property for them? Is Realestate.com trying to trick a buyer into buying something in a high crime neighborhood? The article says they want to rethink what “safety” really means to a buyer. I will help realtor.com out, locations with high crime rate are areas that I would not see as safe.
Third, how does a “newcomer” to real estate have a CEO position at such a large real estate website? Was he a department of diversity and inclusion head beforehand?
There are two things that potential first-time buyers look at more than anything else. First is the school system. They will want their kids to have the best school system, and many are willing to pay more to make it happen. The second is crime data. No one wants to purchase a house that they feel is going to be unsafe. Neither of these things have anything to do with race. If I were a working real estate agent right now, I would tell my clients to stay away from an app that is not willing to give you all the information and let you make the decision. I hope agents around the country feel the same way.