The Company Agrees to Alter its Minimum Home Price Policy
Media Contact: Media@KAHConsultingGroup.com
WASHINGTON, DC – April 29, 2022 – Today, the National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA) announced a settlement agreement to resolve a fair housing lawsuit that will expand housing opportunities for consumers in communities of color in major cities throughout the United States. One of the nation’s largest real estate services companies, Redfin will change its minimum housing price policy, alter other practices, and pay $4 million to settle the suit brought against it by NFHA and nine other fair housing organizations.
The changes will increase access to Redfin’s real estate services across the country and help counter redlining and residential segregation that NFHA and the other plaintiffs alleged Redfin’s policies perpetuated. Settlement proceeds of $4 million will be used to conduct monitoring and compliance programs that expand homeownership opportunities in the cities covered by the lawsuit and cover litigation and investigation expenses.
“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. “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.”
The lawsuit was brought after NFHA, and nine other fair housing organizations conducted a lengthy investigation. The fair housing organizations alleged that Redfin’s minimum home price policy violated the Fair Housing Act by discriminating against sellers and buyers of homes in communities of color. NFHA and the other plaintiffs alleged that policies that limit or deny services for homes priced under certain values can perpetuate racial segregation and contribute to the racial wealth gap.
The settlement is expected to serve as 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 has agreed to make changes that will stand for at least three years after an initial implementation period. The company also will implement an outreach and recruiting plan to increase racial diversity in its workforce, advertise its services to reach non-White consumers, and require agents and local partner realty firms to attend fair housing training.
The legal complaint filed by NFHA and the other fair housing organization alleged that Redfin’s minimum home price policy had a substantial adverse impact on buyers and sellers of homes in predominantly non-White communities based on race and national origin. The complaint alleged that Redfin offered no services in non-White zip codes at a disproportionately higher rate than in White zip codes in Baltimore, MD; Chicago, IL; Detroit, MI; Kansas City, MO/KS; Long Island, NY; Louisville, KY; Memphis, TN; Milwaukee, WI; Newark, NJ; and Philadelphia, PA.
The lawsuit was filed by the New York City-based law firm Emery Celli Brinckerhoff Abady Ward & Maazel, LLP, and Seattle-based firm MacDonald Hoague & Bayless in the federal district court in Seattle, WA.
Other plaintiffs included the South Suburban Housing Center; HOPE Fair Housing Center; Fair Housing Center of Metropolitan Detroit; Fair Housing Justice Center, Inc.; Long Island Housing Services, Inc.; Lexington Fair Housing Council; Metropolitan Milwaukee Fair Housing Council; the Fair Housing Rights Center in Southeastern Pennsylvania; and Open Communities.
Redfin, which is based in Seattle, is a large broker. It operates in 95 markets in the U.S. and Canada and has generated $195 billion in home sales. Redfin averaged nearly 47 million monthly users on its mobile apps and website in 2021.
A copy of the settlement agreement can be found HERE.
The investigation, in this case, was supported, in part, with funding from a Private Enforcement Initiative grant received from the Fair Housing Initiatives Program administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA) is the country’s only national civil rights organization dedicated solely to eliminating all forms of housing and lending discrimination and ensuring equal opportunities for all people. As the trade association for over 170 fair housing and justice-centered organizations and individuals throughout the U.S. and its territories, NFHA works to dismantle longstanding barriers to equity and build diverse, inclusive, well-resourced communities.