What to Look Out For: Navigating Minority Discrimination in the Home Buying Process
Home Navigating Minority Discrimination

What to Look Out For: Navigating Minority Discrimination in the Home Buying Process

March 8, 2023 at 5:50 PM PST
Home Navigating Minority Discrimination

What to Look Out For: Navigating Minority Discrimination in the Home Buying Process

March 8, 2023 at 5:50 PM PST

So, you’re thinking about it—packing up your apartment or rental house and purchasing a home. Maybe you’re dreaming of some backyard space, a pool, an aspirational Pinterest-perfect kitchen or all three, and you’ve favorited some listings on Zillow. The journey begins. While buying a home is an important milestone for many, marginalized communities are faced with an additional obstacle — navigating minority discrimination.

If homeownership is one of your major goals for this year or even in the next few, learning how to identify some of the most common challenges can help you stay prepared during an already tedious process.

The Importance of Navigating Minority Discrimination When Buying a Home

Unfortunately, there are many ways in which you can be discriminated against when trying to purchase a home. In addition to race, this can include ethnicity, gender, or even religion. In an effort to strive towards a more equal society, it’s critical to be aware of the different types of discrimination that can occur and know what to do if you experience any of them.

Understanding your rights when looking for a home is key. You can find a number of resources available to help you navigate the home buying process. The National Fair Housing Alliance is a good place to start, as is the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

How to Avoid Minority Discrimination When Buying a Home

One way to avoid these potential issues is to work with a real estate agent who is familiar with the potential for discrimination in your area. Do your research, ask friends and family for trusted referrals and read reviews. This will all help you find an agent that will have your best interest in mind. A good agent can truly make or break the home buying process. The right one will be there to help you every step of the way.

If experiencing minority discrimination when buying a home, make sure to document everything—emails, texts and letters. Legal action may not be necessary or worth the headache during the already difficult process, but it will help you if you decide to do so.

Discriminatory Practices to Look Out for

Marginalized communities have been victims of discriminatory practices such as steering, redlining, and predatory lending for many years. Unfortunately, this has kept minority communities from acquiring quality homes and achieving financial security. Sometimes, discrimination can be difficult to catch, but there are a few signs to look out for.

First, take a step back and ask yourself if you’re being treated differently than other potential buyers. For example, if you’re being shown homes in a certain neighborhood or being told that a home is not available, that could be a sign of steering. Steering is the act of directing someone towards or away from a certain type of housing or neighborhood based on their race or ethnicity.

Real estate agents or lending institutions do this by guiding white home buyers towards predominately white neighborhoods and Black home buyers towards predominately Black neighborhoods.

Redlining is the practice of denying or limiting financial services to certain areas based on race or ethnicity. Historically, lenders would do this by refusing to offer home loans in certain neighborhoods. This practice led to the development of low-income neighborhoods and “pockets of poverty.”

Predatory lending is the act of charging excessive interest rates or fees to someone for a loan, often when that person is unable to afford it. This has been a major issue for low-income and minority communities, often by lenders looking to make a profit. Unfortunately, this practice has caused many people to lose their homes.

Always pay attention to the cost of the home in comparison to homes in the rest of the area. Another red flag showing a descriminatory practice — the price. Is the price of the home you’re interested in much higher than other homes in the area? Always ask for comparative pricing for similar homes, and do your own due diligence to verify.

Stay Ahead of the Home Buying Process

Finally, another rule of thumb is to start preparing for the home buying process the moment you’re ready. This means having your finances in order. Consider documents such as bank statements and at least two years of W2s to show consistent, stable income.

Be realistic about what you want versus what you’re flexible with to align with your budget. Also clear as much debt as you can and avoid making any major purchases such as a car.

The journey to homeownership can take months, whether you’re buying your first home or looking to expand. And, armed with the right knowledge, you can set yourself up for success. You’ll have the keys to your new place before you know it.


Whether it’s luxury or ease, every area of your home should be as fabulous and unique as you.



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