Real Estate

Discrimination and Residential Real Estate

Under the law, home sellers cannot treat you unfairly because you are part of a minority group. Antidiscrimination laws cover race, religion, gender, age, family status, national origin, and disability.

Some laws also stop housing discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. In addition, mortgage lenders cannot discriminate against you when you apply for a residential real estate loan. They cannot refuse you a loan to buy in a neighborhood where minorities live.

Home Sellers Cannot Discriminate

Individuals selling their homes cannot discriminate against you as a buyer. You also cannot be forced to take unfair sales terms. In addition, real estate professionals cannot discriminate against you. For example, a real estate agent cannot charge a higher sales commission for selling a home because the owner is African American.

Discrimination Based on Gender Identity Is Becoming Less Acceptable

More laws are beginning to protect gay people from housing discrimination. For example, in Wisconsin, New York, New Hampshire, and Maryland, it is against the law to treat gays differently when selling or buying residential property.

Sixteen states, including Washington and Oregon, also do not allow housing discrimination based on a person's gender identity. In 2011, President Barack Obama also included sexual orientation and gender identity in antidiscrimination laws for federal home lending programs.

You Must Be Treated Fairly

Mortgage lenders cannot refuse to give you a residential loan because of your minority status. For example, a mortgage lender cannot turn down a loan to an Asian woman because of her race.

A lender also cannot give a man a better interest rate than a woman because of his gender. Minorities must be offered the same financing options as non-minorities. Laws against housing discrimination do not mean you are guaranteed a loan regardless of your financial resources. You must still quality for a loan, but you must be treated fairly.

Residential Redlining Is Unlawful

Redlining is when mortgage lenders draw imaginary lines around minority neighborhoods and refuse to give home loans within them. Redlining also refers to offering unfair loans to people in high minority locations. For example, a bank that charges a higher interest rate for buying a home in a Latino neighborhood may be guilty of redlining. Lenders can be sued and fined for redlining practices.

A Real Estate Lawyer Can Help

The laws surrounding discrimination when selling or buying homes can be complicated. Plus, the facts of each case are unique. This article provides a brief, general introduction to the topic. For more detailed, specific information, please contact a real estate lawyer.

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