Posted by: Peter Coy on June 27, 2007
Selling real estate in New York City is like walking through a minefield. Almost anything you say, or any question you answer, could land you in court on grounds of discrimination.
The New York Times ran a great article this past Sunday called “Questions Your Broker Can’t Answer.”
**If a young couple with children wants to know if a building is family-friendly … don’t answer! You could be accused of steering people toward or away from certain buildings on grounds of “children or childless state.”
**Don’t ask what a buyer does for a living. This prohibition is meant to protect lawyers, who have a hard time getting into some buildings because their neighbors fear they will be litigious.
**Don’t identify the school district in which a building is located. (Actually, you can answer the question if directly asked, but you can’t advertise it.) This is meant to avoid racial discrimination, since districts have different racial compositions.
**Don’t advertise that a building is “near churches,” because it could be seen as a preference for Christian buyers.
Actually, a move is afoot in NYC to make the anti-discrimination rules even tougher. To forestall that, the Council of New York Cooperatives and Condominiums and the Real Estate Board of New York have put together a guide to help co-op boards avoid discriminating against buyers on any one of 14 criteria, from race and creed to military status and sexual orientation.
BusinessWeek editors Chris Palmeri, Prashant Gopal and Peter Coy chronicle the highs and lows of the housing and mortgage markets on their Hot Property blog. In print and online, the Hot Property team first wrote about the potential downside of lenders pushing riskier, "option ARM" mortgages and the rise in mortgage fraud back in 2005—well ahead of many other media outlets. In 2008, Hot Property bloggers finished #1 in a ranking of the world's top 100 "most powerful property people" by the British real estate website Global edge. Hot Property was named among the 25 most influential real estate blogs of 2007 by Inman News.