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Fair Housing and Real Estate

In real estate dealings, it’s very important that everyone is fair to everyone else. Sellers want to get the most they can for their home, and buyers want to pay as little as possible. That’s completely understandable, and something worth carefully considering, but there are also laws that have to be followed with real estate transactions. Many of these regulations are based on fair housing laws, which are designed to ensure that people who work in real estate don’t allow discrimination in the purchase and sale of housing. This is also true with landlords, as they must rent fairly and without discriminating.

A Maine real estate agent must take care not to discriminate based on what he or she wants to offer to the seller. Instead, the sale should be fair and balanced, and should be based on criteria that are only related to the ability of the buyer to purchase the home. In other words, the agent must not “steer” a seller toward a particular buyer because of characteristics that are based on something unrelated to the buyer’s ability to buy. Race, color, national origin, sexual orientation, and other protected factors cannot be used to decide whether to accept a buyer’s offer.

Showing property also falls under this issue, and must be addressed in the same way as an actual offer for sale or rent. Race or other protected factors cannot be used as a reason not to show a property to a buyer or renter interested in seeing it. Examples of this would be refusing to show a home in an all-white neighborhood to a black family, or avoiding showing a property in a largely Christian community to a homosexual couple. Agents must not agree to this discrimination, and must not encourage it or be a party to it.