Perfect for families? Fishermen? Uh uh!

Christine Haughney hits that proverbial nail on the head in her latest column in the New York Times.  In it, she takes on words and phrases that evoke discrimination under the Fair Housing Act.

One commonly encountered phrase portrays a property as “perfect for “empty nesters.” That’s like saying children are a no-no.  And that’s against the law. “Fisherman’s retreat” — the Lincoln Tunnel? — also is questionable.  Women need not apply?

Other words and phrases Haughney that flags include “bachelor pad,” “near churches” and “play area.”

The column omits Continue reading

It’s not okay for statistics to rest on anecdotes

Shoe by Manolo Blahnik: $945

A useful article that was published Tuesday makes a good point but goes way too far in quoting the value of heeding details when selling a property.

By the otherwise scrupulous Christine Haughney, the New York Times piece quotes various brokers as putting dollar amounts on chipped plaster, broken bathroom tiles and fresh paint.  I didn’t pay much attention to the column until a “civilian” friend of mine cited the numbers as gospel and I began seeing links to it on several Real Estate blogs that I monitor.

To be fair, Continue reading

Listed? It’s just not your home any more.

This house is on the market for the "right" buyer only.

There can be no better example of a seller’s misconception about putting a property on the market than a piece in the New York Times about a couple in Greenwich Village who is listing their townhouse for $8.35 million.  Author of more than 30 novels, Robert Rosenblum is quoted as saying the following:

My idea is to find someone who deserves the house and can feel what is here. We brought our kids up in this house, and we feel it’s a magical place.

The sentiment (which is, of course, all it can be called) is understandable, if unjustified. Continue reading

Brokers flout Fair Housing laws with impunity

When it comes to many matters relating to real estate, the Big Apple often lags the rest of the country.

One prime example discussed on this blog concerns the continuing resistance, especially by the biggest brokerages, to a Multiple Listing Service (MLS) even while reluctantly accepting VOWs (Virtual Online Web sites).

Another example involves the strictures of the Fair Housing Act, along with other anti-discrimination legislation on the municipal, state and and federal levels.

Such measures protect certain “classes” of consumers–for instance, by the source of their income, marital status, age, race and sexual orientation.  (In D.C., sellers may not discriminate by what is called matriculation, that is, against students.)  The list of protected classes can rise into the high teens.

Well schooled about the subtleties of the law when I was affiliated with Long & Foster Real Estate in D.C., I was astonished to see how flagrantly the provisions of the law were violated with impunity by brokers here in New York City. Continue reading