Real estate giant Redfin last Friday settled a significant fair housing lawsuit brought by almost a dozen advocacy organizations, paying $4 million and agreeing to change its practices around how it sets minimum price points in communities, which allegedly discriminated against predominantly Black and brown areas.
The lawsuit was led by the National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA), which originally filed the suit back in 2020.
“Our goal was to ensure that all neighborhoods are treated fairly and have access to the full range of services provided by any real estate company,” said Lisa Rice, president, and CEO of NFHA, in a statement. “We must also ensure that companies do not use their technologies, including digitally-based platforms, to deny people the housing opportunities and services they deserve. The steps Redfin has agreed to take are a positive move toward stamping out some of the nation’s most harmful practices, like redlining and appraisal bias.”
According to the NFHA, Redfin’s practices violated fair housing requirements and illegally excluded people of color.
In the settlement, Redfin agreed to end the practice of using price thresholds for its Partner Program referral service for a period of five years, and “shall ensure that its contracts with Partner Program participants require compliance with the FHA and applicable state and local housing laws prohibiting discrimination.”
The company can continue to use price thresholds for other services but must monitor and correct availability between predominately white and predominantly non-white areas, and will also take several other steps to increase racial diversity among its agents, executives as well as in its marketing.
NFHA called the settlement “a caution to others in the real estate industry that they must exercise care to ensure that their policies and practices, including how they use technologies, do not lead to discriminatory outcomes.”
Redfin is released from any further liability stemming from its practices, and the settlement includes explicit language that the company is not admitting to any violation of law or regulation.
Redfin did not respond to a request for comment at press time.
Jesse Williams is RISMedia’s associate online editor. Email him your real estate news to email@example.com.