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Each year in April, REALTORS® join the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, and rest of the nation in recognizing April as Fair Housing Month. Forty-nine years ago, on April 11, 1968, President Lyndon Johnson signed the landmark U.S. Fair Housing Act, Title VII of the Civil Right Act of 1968, which strives to ensure equal housing opportunity for all and prohibits housing discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability, and family status. In 2012, HUD published new regulations to ensure that its core housing programs are open to all eligible persons, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

“Fair Housing Month is an opportunity to recommit to the principle that fair housing is an essential part of everything we do. REALTORS® play a vital role in ensuring fair housing for all and strive to make the American dream of homeownership accessible to all,” says Denise Welsh, president of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS®. “This year’s theme – ‘Fair Housing Equals Opportunity’ – reminds us that everyone have the same opportunity and rights when renting, owning, or buying a home.”

Home sellers and landlords have a responsibility and a requirement under the law not to discriminate in the sale, rental and financing of property on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin. You cannot instruct the licensed broker or salesperson acting as your agent to convey for you any limitations in the sale or rental because the real estate professional is also bound by law not to discriminate. Under the law, a home seller or landlord cannot establish discriminatory terms or conditions in the purchase or rental; deny that housing is available, or advertise that the property is available only to persons of a certain race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin.

Home seekers have the right to expect that housing will be available to you without discrimination or other limitations based on race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin. This includes the right to expect:

  • Housing in your price range made available to you without discrimination
  • Equal professional service
  • The opportunity to consider a broad range of housing choices
  • No discriminatory limitations on communities or locations of housing
  • No discrimination in the financing, appraising, or insuring of housing
  • Reasonable accommodations in rules, practices and procedures for persons with disabilities
  • Non-discriminatory terms and conditions for the sale, rental, financing, or insuring of a dwelling
  • To be free from harassment or intimidation for exercising your fair housing rights.

Real estate professionals are prohibited by law from discriminating on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin. A request from the home seller or landlord to act in a discriminatory manner in the sale, lease or rental cannot legally be fulfilled by the real estate professional.

If you suspect discrimination, you may file a complaint with the nearest HUD office, or by contacting them at http://www.hud.gov

The Obama Administration has announced two initiatives to help homeowners and their families. The Administration is reducing fees for Federal Housing Administration (FHA) borrowers seeking to refinance and providing relief to servicemembers and veterans.

FHA is reducing both the upfront and annual fee for FHA borrowers looking to utilize the streamline refinance to take advantage of historically low interest rates. For loans originated prior to June 1, 2009, the upfront premium is reduced to .01 percent and the annual fee is reduced to .55 percent. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) released Mortgagee Letter 12-4, which outlines all the mortgage insurance premium (MIP) changes; increases for new purchase transactions, and decreases for streamline refinances.

The announcement includes several efforts to support servicemembers and veterans who were wrongfully foreclosed upon, wrongfully charged higher interest rates, and who were forced to sell their home for a loss due to a permanent change in service. Foreclosure protections under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) are being expanded and $10 million will be paid into the Veterans Housing Benefit Program Fund. This relief will be provided by loan servicers Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Ally, Citi, and Wells Fargo.

 

June 2017
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