This April, multifamily and real estate professionals all over the United States join to celebrate the passage of one of the most important pieces of legislation in the industry – the 50th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act.
As a quick review, the Fair Housing Act, in its first iteration, was passed in 1968. Its aim was, and still is, to protect people from discrimination when they are renting, buying, or securing financing for any housing.
Initially, the Act covered discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion. Then, in 1988, President Ronald Reagan amended the Act to include protection based on sex, disability and the presence of children. The 1988 amendment also strengthened enforcement of fair housing law by making it easier for victims of discrimination to sue and stiffening penalties for those who discriminate.
While quite a lot has happened in the last half century, the Fair Housing Act continues to impact the real estate industry in very significant ways. Multifamily properties in particular are under significant pressure to be vigilant that they aren’t unintentionally violating the Act.
The Fair Housing Act is truly a living, breathing piece of legislation that must continue to evolve as people and communities, as well as the needs and demands of the real estate market, change. As such, multifamily companies and communities must work to stay up to date on the evolution of Fair Housing and stay in the know on how they can continue to stay compliant with it.
One area to pay attention to is how marketing in the real estate industry has evolved. As property groups and communities look to market themselves in the digital age, they need to keep the tenants of the Fair Housing Act in mind as they develop those digital materials and strategies. At the top of everyone’s minds currently is the Fair Housing lawsuit currently taking place claiming that Facebook’s online marketing algorithms allow targeting and discrimination against specific groups for housing providers. Also a hot topic though is, no doubt, video.
By 2019, online video traffic in the United States will account for 85% of all consumer Internet traffic, and this doesn’t even include video exchanged through peer-to-peer. Video is a great way to reach a wide audience and can be an ideal vehicle to share a property with prospective residents no matter where they are. And today’s multifamily marketers not already using video soon will. After all, real estate listings with video receive 403% more inquiries than those that do not include video.
Given the overwhelming prevalence and impact of video in today’s real estate marketing efforts, keeping these videos compliant with the Fair Housing Act is critical. Multifamily professionals should remain aware of some major problems that can interfere with fair housing compliance when using video for leasing or marketing purposes.
Beyond some of the more obvious tips – use diversity in images and ensure language is welcoming to all – there remain some more hidden issues and potential minefields. These issues can bubble up under the following circumstances:
- When providing video experiences to prospective residents without displaying the Equal Housing Opportunity logo and disclaimer.
- When adding the Equal Housing Opportunity logo and disclaimer to videos sent to some prospective residents but not to others.
- When adding the Equal Housing Opportunity logo and disclaimer to videos for some properties but not others.
- When claims are made against your team or community but there is no recording or audit trail to use in defense.
The good news is that staying compliant with Fair Housing laws while using video for your communities can actually be really easy. Here are a few tips to pay attention to and integrate:
- Automatically and consistently add the Equal Housing Opportunity logo and disclaimer to video tours – both live and prerecorded.
- Provide a standardized video process and strategy across the portfolio in terms of how video is shot, shared, saved, and used.
- Save all video activities to the cloud to provide a documented audit trail of every recorded or live video your team produces.
- Work with a company that specializes in real estate video and is staying in tune with Fair Housing laws in order to keep you and your videos compliant 🙂
The Fair Housing Act is something to be celebrated in the real estate industry. It allows everyone access to the safe and affordable housing they need and helps to keep communities running and thriving. The good that the Fair Housing Act provides should be reason enough to make sure that as the industry and the way real estate marketing evolves, compliance with Fair Housing stays top of mind.
If you want to learn more about how Realync can make your teams Fair Housing compliant and provide a standardized, documented process for your teams to find success with video, shoot us an email. We’re here to help: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Until next time…keep it real!