REALTORS® are obligated to uphold a strict Code of Ethics and must treat all clients equally, regardless of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin, sexual orientation or gender identity. The REALTOR® commitment to diversity and equality is perhaps the strongest in real estate, even going a step farther than the federal Fair Housing Act, which does not include sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes against housing discrimination. REALTORS® play an essential role in ensuring that fair and equal opportunity in housing is protected. 

Change catalyst and diversity expert Verna Myers said, “Diversity is being invited to the party; inclusion is being asked to dance.” For several years, Maryland REALTORS® has attempted to fill its housing equity “dance card” with organizations and professionals who could positively influence fair housing efforts in Maryland. We’ve developed relationships with diversity and multicultural industry groups through our Global Business and Housing Affordability & Equal Opportunity committees. In 2019, Maryland REALTORS® President John Harrison formed a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) task force to evaluate and make recommendations to improve the diversity among our leadership.

Whether you have personal experience with hurtful discriminatory behavior or are just starting to learn about the troubling history of race in this country, the resources on this page may help you understand why it’s so crucial that we, as real estate professionals, lean into these issues to ensure we’re serving the industry and consumers in the best way possible. We may find that our efforts lead to more comprehensive education and evaluation of public policy and legislative matters to help correct systemic inequities impacting property rights and homeownership.

Key terms:

Diversity:  The presence, acceptance, and appreciation of varied cultures and races.

Equity:  A condition that balances two dimensions: fairness and inclusion. Equity ensures that everyone has the same access to resources based on need. It is not the same as equality.

Implicit bias:  The attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions in a subconscious manner.

Inclusion:  Creating conditions where everyone feels accepted, safe, empowered, and supported.

Microaggression:  Subtle words, cues, and/or behaviors that insult, invalidate, or exclude members of a traditionally marginalized group.

Prejudice:  Preconceived opinions that are not based on reason or actual experience.

Privilege:  Systemic favoring, enriching, valuing, and validating certain identities over others. We often hear this in the term “white privilege,” which doesn’t necessarily mean that one is wealthy or has been given special favor. Rather, it refers to the inherent benefits, often generational, that have been denied others.

Racism:  A system of advantage based on race, often demonstrated by prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism towards a minority group. It is rooted in power or privilege, which is why “reverse racism” is considered a myth - racial and ethnic minorities typically lack the power to damage the interests of dominant groups.  

Books:

The Color of Law, by Richard Rothstein

So You Want to Talk About Race, by Ijeoma Olou

Race for Profit, by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor

Not in My Neighborhood, by Anthony Pietila

Evicted, by Matthew Desmond

Videos:

Housing Segregation and Redlining in America: A Short Story (NPR),” YouTube

13th,” Netflix

NAR’s Bias Override: Overcoming Barriers to Fair Housing,” NAR.Realtor

Long Island Divided,” Newsday

Race in Real Estate: A Panel Discussion,” Howard County Association of REALTORS® webinar

"Racial Inequity & Real Estate: A Path Forward," Maryland REALTORS® webinar

"Systemic Racism Explained," Act.tv

"Race, Real Estate, and Association Leadership," NAR.Realtor