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Redfin, Realtor-dot-com To Stop Including Crime Stats on Listings Due to Possible ‘Racial Bias’ Concerns

Redfin, Realtor-dot-com To Stop Including Crime Stats on Listings Due to Possible ‘Racial Bias’ Concerns

“…given the long history of redlining and racist housing covenants in the United States, there’s too great a risk of this [crime data] inaccuracy reinforcing racial bias,” Redfin’s chief growth officer Christian Taubman wrote.

https://youtu.be/AcVaTIW-DGQ

When searching for a home to rent or buy, the two top priorities for most people beyond the affordability of the house is whether or not it is in a safe neighborhood and whether or not it is close to good schools.

With violent crime on the rise in big cities across America over the last 18 months or so, one would think that real estate listing websites would be ramping up their efforts to give prospective renters/homebuyers all the available information they needed on crime stats for the area(s) they’re looking to move to so they can be better informed before they make a decision to put in an application or make an offer.

But that’s not the case for two of the top real estate search engines in the country.

Earlier this week in a post with the headline “An Invitation to the Industry: Address Fair Housing Together,” Realtor.com CEO David Doctorow wrote about “the challenges” communities of color allegedly face not just in the homebuying process but in the home selling process as well. And after collaborating with proponents of “fair housing,” Doctorow said one thing Realtor.com had done was to remove crime data from their search engines:

For example, earlier this month, we removed the crime map layer from all search results on Realtor.com to rethink the safety information we share on Realtor.com and how we can best integrate it as part of a consumer’s home search experience.

One area where Doctorow said real estate companies could “shine a light on inequity and promote fairness” was in “rethinking” how they characterized neighborhoods:

Rethinking how we characterize neighborhoods. Historically, our industry has rated neighborhoods using metrics that unfairly penalize communities of color. We can all do a better job explaining the facts in a way that does not unfairly penalize neighborhoods, towns and cities.

[…]

In the weeks and months ahead, we plan to examine closely what neighborhood safety means for buyers and renters who use our site so we can reimagine how we integrate safety data on Realtor.com. Our goal is to ensure we are providing consumers with the most valuable, fair and accurate neighborhood data so they can make informed decisions about where they want to rent or purchase their next home.

On the same day – and likely not by coincidence – Redfin chief growth officer Christian Taubman announced that though the company had previously considered including crime mapping on their website, that it would not be doing so going forward because “there’s too great a risk of this [crime data] inaccuracy reinforcing racial bias”:

We recently decided not to add neighborhood crime data to Redfin.com. We were considering this because we’re very much focused on answering all the questions people have when they’re considering a home purchase, and we know that one of these questions is whether they’ll feel safe in a given home or neighborhood. But the data available don’t allow us to speak accurately to that question, and given the long history of redlining and racist housing covenants in the United States there’s too great a risk of this inaccuracy reinforcing racial bias. We believe that Redfin–and all real estate sites–should not show neighborhood crime data.

People Are Interested in Safety, Not Crime

One big thing we learned through our research is that there’s real variety in how people define and evaluate safety, and that it doesn’t line up very well with purely crime-based data. When we survey people about what they want to know about a neighborhood, they define safety in a number of different ways: people variously say they care whether there’s trash on the street, care solely about violent crime, or care whether they are going to frequently see people who are homeless.

Taubman spent the rest of the post trying to impress upon readers how sufficiently woke Redfin was by pointing to alleged “racial bias” in crime surveys and how there are supposedly “reasons to doubt the usefulness” and accuracy “of the [reported crime] data.”

When I first read the news at the DC Examiner about Realtor.com’s and Redfin’s decisions, my first thought (after muttering “idiots!” to myself) was that both were telling on themselves by making a correlation between crime data, communities of color, and “racial bias.”

Most people looking for homes understand that a bad neighborhood and/or a high-crime area can include either a mixture of races or predominantly one race over the other but that in the latter instance it could just as easily be a predominantly white community rather than a black or Hispanic one.

For instance, living in the south, there are a lot of trailer park communities. I lived in some as a child. They were predominantly white. There were major crime issues and other issues related to safety, many of which still exist today in some of them.

And living in Charlotte as long as I have, I can point you to public housing communities that are predominantly white that also have crime and safety issues plaguing their neighborhood, places that most people would not want to move into if they knew beforehand.

My references are anecdotal to be sure, but I’m not far off the mark – and the situation is the same all across the country. There are longtime residents who can point to white neighborhoods with crime and safety issues just as they can to black neighborhoods with crime issues. Same with any high-crime Hispanic neighborhoods as well.

For the Average Joe and Jane searching for a home, any correlation between crime and race is incidental, not purposeful. On the other hand, Redfin and Realtor.com deliberately infer that crime data has a direct correlation to communities of color.

So who are the real racists here? The people searching for a home, or the real estate honchos who want to pretend they’re “better serving” consumers and being more “equitable” to black/brown/Asian communities by excluding important data that all people look to – white, black, Hispanic, etc – when trying to rent/buy a home?

My prediction on this is that it’s going to backfire big time on Redfin and Realtor.com, much the same as “Defund the Police” backfired on House Democrats. Because as it turns out, no matter what a person’s race is, they want police around to protect them and they want to know the crime data for cities and neighborhoods because their first priority is to keep their family safe.

— Stacey Matthews has also written under the pseudonym “Sister Toldjah” and can be reached via Twitter. —

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Comments

This is a poor choice driven by ideology not customer service. Redlining and race based covenants are an unfortunate part of history but they are also just that a part of history not contemporary society. Both are illegal in today’s society.

    Peabody in reply to CommoChief. | December 16, 2021 at 4:03 pm

    Perhaps they should’ve checked with the Salvation Army before going woke to find out if there are any repercussions from customers.

      The Friendly Grizzly in reply to Peabody. | December 16, 2021 at 6:25 pm

      I got a beg letter from SA today. I am mailing back white apology coupons I printed from some website.

    Not to mention that they are completely irrelevant to how people use crime data! IOW, this is an excuse, not an actual reason.

When making tge largest purchase of your life toy better fucking believe knowing local crime stats is a fucking absolute fucking requirement before signing on the dotted fucking line!! Fucking fucks!!

    stevewhitemd in reply to mailman. | December 16, 2021 at 2:46 pm

    Dude, this isn’t your private domain. How about treating the Professor and his people with a little respect?

    The Friendly Grizzly in reply to mailman. | December 16, 2021 at 3:57 pm

    Just curious: do you pronounce it “fook”, like a football hooligan?

    dunce1239 in reply to mailman. | December 16, 2021 at 5:17 pm

    When my brother moved to Phoenix about 60 years ago he looked to find a synagogue because he knew they would be in a good neighborhood. We are not Jewish.

    mailman in reply to mailman. | December 17, 2021 at 6:27 am

    To be honest I’m surprised any of your fuckers were able to understand what I was saying (the curse of small keyboard vs fat fingers! 🙂

    So let me be clear…when it comes to the largest fucking purchase of your fucking meaningless lives you’re god damn right Im going to want to know what the fucking crime rate in any particular area I’m looking to buy in is like!!

    Its even more important when you have no recourse once you’ve made the decision to suddenly discover the area you’ve bought in is as crime ridden as a Democrat controlled shithole! So yeah, Im going to want to know whats what in any area I’m buy in.

    And the truth still remains as it was yesterday…the fucking fucks can go fuck themselves!

    healthguyfsu in reply to mailman. | December 17, 2021 at 11:59 pm

    I’m not going to downvote you for colorfully expressing your opinion but let’s just be clear.

    Crime data is public knowledge…it can be found even if these bs wokeplay websites don’t make it convenient any more.

    These aren’t the only sites in this space (unlike facebook and twitter which have monopolies).

    Trulia and Zillow are welcome to offer such info if they don’t already and can benefit from being less woke and more practical to their customer base.

    Sometimes, cursing makes sense for emphasis but you sound a bit triggered with that writing. I’d say use it carefully and precisely like a hammer aiming for a nail.

So, the unspoken implication is the greater the ‘diversity’ of the neighborhood, the more likely you are to be a victim of crime in that neighborhood, right?

They’re saying the quiet part out loud and they don’t even realize it.

    dunce1239 in reply to TargaGTS. | December 16, 2021 at 5:27 pm

    When my brother moved to Phoenix about 60 years ago he looked to find a synagogue because he knew they would be in a good neighborhood. We are not Jewish.

      The Friendly Grizzly in reply to dunce1239. | December 16, 2021 at 6:27 pm

      And, where you find synagogues, you find a) a source for good pastrami sandwiches, and b) a really good Chinese restaurant.

        And babka? Please tell me there will be babka!

        You’d think so, but I’ve been told on good authority that in all of LA there is not a single good kosher Chinese restaurant.

        Nor, apparently, a good kosher Persian restaurant, despite the city being known as “Teherangeles”. I’m told that to get good kosher Persian food in LA you have to get yourself invited to a Persian Jewish wedding. I doubt the same advice would apply for Chinese, though 🙂

          The Friendly Grizzly in reply to Milhouse. | December 16, 2021 at 8:59 pm

          A Chinese restaurant needn’t be kosher. Paul’s Kitchen, south of L.A.’s jewelry district, prints money. That, and, non-observant declare pork and shrimp is kosher as long as it is served in a Chinese restaurant.

      Milhouse in reply to dunce1239. | December 16, 2021 at 7:58 pm

      It’s illegal to advertise a home as “within walking distance of synagogues”, even though this is something vital for Sabbath-observant Jews to know, because some bureaucrat decided it’s really a coded warning to antisemites to look elsewhere.

      Which, you know, even if that were true I’d be 100% OK with, really. If someone doesn’t want to live next to my kind, please, show them somewhere they’ll be more comfortable. But the fact is that’s not what the real estate people mean by it. They mean it to attract customers, not to steer them elsewhere.

      I don’t know whether there’s a specific ruling on “within eruv”, but I imagine the same bureaucrats will have banned that too, even though again, it’s a huge selling point and something vital for many customers to know. And again, if someone doesn’t want to live inside an eruv, please let them not.

        healthguyfsu in reply to Milhouse. | December 18, 2021 at 12:00 am

        LOL that doesn’t make sense….it’s a coded warning to a bigot not to move there. Sounds like a feature rather than a bug. Gotta protect the fragile feelings of those antisemitic jihadists though I guess!

The Friendly Grizzly | December 16, 2021 at 1:57 pm

Crime stats are available on other sites.

Also, do a scan of the area. A lot of title loan shops, rent to own, paycheck loan places, and regular stores with layouts that look like they are designed to slow or stop shoplifting, are clues.

BIG apartment farms are also a clue.

All that plays a part in teh CHICOM social score.

I’m a real estate broker in MA and a long time legalinsurrection.com fan, I come to the same conclusion as Redfin and Realtor.com for different reasons.

I believe buyers should have that information and there are many primary source to find it, including at the local police/school department.

Real estate agents and agencies should not comment on crime or school performance nor have that information on their websites.

A good agent will direct buyers to primary source websites.

There is a long, sad history of real estate agents steering buyers to particular neighborhoods, see News Day story from 2019. https://projects.newsday.com/long-island/real-estate-investigation-videos/

We are not crime or school experts. Never take safety or school advice from your agent. Research on your own. Walk the neighborhood, talk to people, read the local news, look up the school performance on state websites that rank school performance.

The last thing a buyer needs to hear is: “You won’t feel comfortable with those schools” “You folks will probably fit in better in that other neighborhood.”

    TargaGTS in reply to jackgately. | December 16, 2021 at 2:38 pm

    OK, but you understand that Realtor.com will (apparently) continue to have schools grades, tax reports, dining & shopping information and even ‘noise level’ data all available on their website, right?

    As a buyer, I’m sure a whole lot more interested in how many people were shot in the face in the neighborhood the last year than how ‘noisy’ it might be. Redfin even has a laughable section on ‘climate risk’ and a ‘bikeable’ score.

      jackgately in reply to TargaGTS. | December 16, 2021 at 3:06 pm

      Agreed, noise and climate risk ratings are ridiculous.

        The Friendly Grizzly in reply to jackgately. | December 16, 2021 at 6:29 pm

        (not my downtick) Wrong on noise. I won’t buy near a freeway or limited access multi-lane highway. I won’t buy adjacent a bus stop for several reasons, but noise is one. I will not buy within two or three blocks of a mall.

    goddessoftheclassroom in reply to jackgately. | December 16, 2021 at 2:45 pm

    I agree that the realtor shouldn’t pass on judgments, but a site that acts as a clearinghouse should incorporate as much data are available. Data is just data.

      I’m cool with publishers (like a news site providing that information). But Realtor.com is licensed by Realtors Assoc. Redfin is an agency.

      I’m happy to say I’m not a member of commission protection racket otherwise known as the Realtor Assoc.

        nordic_prince in reply to jackgately. | December 16, 2021 at 4:55 pm

        I think a lot of people don’t realize that “realtor” is a term with a specific connotation, and “real estate agent” is the general term. These are often used interchangeably, when technically they shouldn’t be (like thermos/vacuum bottle, kleenex/facial tissue, xerox/photocopy, ping pong/table tennis, etc). But you’ll seem pedantic if you try to point this out.

    stevewhitemd in reply to jackgately. | December 16, 2021 at 2:49 pm

    With respect, Jack, I’ve just bought two homes, and sold one, this year. For the two I bought, if the realtor we worked with hadn’t disclosed crime and school information, I would have thanked her, fired her, and gone with another realtor.

    If I am buying and you’re the buyer’s agent, you’re there to ANSWER MY QUESTIONS about the home, neighborhood, village, etc. If you can’t or won’t do that, you’re not helping me, and I’ll find someone who will.

    Perhaps you’re busy enough that you don’t need more clients?

      You would not be my choice of a real estate agent God knows real estate agents are banking BIGGLY these days.
      I expect information to be given for simple and complex questions!

    CommoChief in reply to jackgately. | December 16, 2021 at 3:22 pm

    Generic comments from an agent to a potential buyer such as ‘you won’t feel comfortable with those schools’ or ‘ you will probably fit in better in that other neighborhood’ are not responsive to the buyer. They don’t want bland BS from an agent. They want facts about a new neighborhood or town; school performance, crime rates, quality of life, nearby restaurants, commute distance and level of difficulty. Just as they want facts about the house; the total sq footage and # of full baths and previous 12 months utility average.

    If an agent refused to provide the information necessary for me to make a purchase decision I would fire their ass, hire a new agent and then decide. If I bought a house that jack leg 1st agent had shown I would refuse to disburse any funds at close to them. Real estate agents/brokers attitudes, their monopoly and uncompetitive pricing is fast coming to an end. The days of 6% commissions are numbered when the same or more info is available from online sources. Showing a buyer a house doesn’t earn a 3% buy side commission. Maybe the limited hand holding for a novice buyer/seller is worth it but not for anyone else.

      nordic_prince in reply to CommoChief. | December 16, 2021 at 5:12 pm

      If you don’t know any better than to accept bland BS from a real estate agent, then you have some growing up to do before you make a major investment like buying a house. I wouldn’t even trust most of these agents to tell me whether or not it’s raining. You have to be hugely skeptical with everything they say.

        CommoChief in reply to nordic_prince. | December 16, 2021 at 5:48 pm

        We know that but the first time novice? Probably not. The first time purchaser or seller needs some hand holding from a pro. I know that I was a much more informed consumer of real estate brokerage services on my 2nd purchase much less my 6th sale.

        The bottom line is real estate brokers/agents who don’t or won’t provide the data requested by the buyer/seller are working themselves out of a job. Not just individually but collectively as an industry. Thirty years ago paying a local broker who had the data and knowledge regarding a particular property, neighborhood or town made a sense.

        Today though? Folks browse properties on trulia to make a list of homes to view. Why should anyone pay an agent 3% to open the door to view the property? Absent a monopoly on listings and services via MLS and State enforced 6% commission few experienced buyers/sellers would pay it. Breaking the commission and MLS monopoly is coming, just like the Wall Street commissions were deregulated nearly 50 years ago.

      healthguyfsu in reply to CommoChief. | December 18, 2021 at 12:06 am

      Real estate agents make BS up all the time. As a first time buyer, I worked carefully to do my own research and look out for stuff (and my realtor was a family friend of many years). I know better and honestly she didn’t tell me much because she didn’t want to lie. I think she knows I appreciated it that way….say nothing or say you don’t know rather than make crap up to make a sale.

      Also, when I want to make a low ball offer take it to them because it might work (like it did!….it helps that I bought around 2012 when the market was still at its historic nadir)

      Another Ed in reply to CommoChief. | December 19, 2021 at 4:16 pm

      Listing a property for sale or rent usually is implemented with a time-limited contract, including the compensation due at closing . The seller does not then have the right to deny compensation if the listing broker meets the terms of the contract. The seller is free to relist the property with another broker at the end of the time-limited contract if no sale or lease is pending. The buyer’s agent typically is not compensated by the buyer but by receiving a portion of the compensation paid to the listing broker.

    gonzotx in reply to jackgately. | December 16, 2021 at 3:27 pm

    You would not be my choice of a real estate agent

    Milhouse in reply to jackgately. | December 16, 2021 at 8:06 pm

    The last thing a buyer needs to hear is: “You won’t feel comfortable with those schools” “You folks will probably fit in better in that other neighborhood.”

    Even if it’s true?!

    healthguyfsu in reply to jackgately. | December 18, 2021 at 12:04 am

    Sorry but I have to disagree with you.

    Information is information….you take it all with a skeptical eye and grains of salt where applicable.

    Their rationale for taking it down is not because it is might be poorly-formed advice (even if it may be). Their rationale is that it confirms what anyone whose ever looked at crime statistics knows and that’s “rayciss”

Tip of the Day: Avoid MLK Boulevard in ANY American city.

    The Friendly Grizzly in reply to MAJack. | December 16, 2021 at 3:54 pm

    And Marcus Garvey schools/streets, same for Rosa Parks, Malcolm X, or Harriet Tubman. And, Obama.

“People Are Interested in Safety, Not Crime”

This is next level stupid. A word has yet to be invented to describe how stupid this statement is. I literally face palmed when I read it.

Ironically, a minority history. While bias is intrinsic, prejudice is progressive. Diversity [dogma] breeds adversity. Lose your religion.

or…move to maine where we have 4 distinct seasons (winter, post-winter, summer, pre-winter) and ain’t enough people here to give a shit about LOL

For the Average Joe and Jane searching for a home, any correlation between crime and race is incidental, not purposeful.

Except that when you compare similar communities that only differ by race, the black and Hispanic communities still have higher – much higher – violent crime rates. And Joe and Jane Average know this, even if they won’t come out and say it.

    CommoChief in reply to daniel_ream. | December 16, 2021 at 6:52 pm

    So a suburb full of white CPA, DR and attorneys commit violent crimes at a lower rate than a suburb full of black CPA, DR and attorneys?

      Milhouse in reply to CommoChief. | December 16, 2021 at 8:24 pm

      If you had a neighborhood composed exclusively of CPAs, doctors, and attorneys, and nobody else including their teenaged sons, then race wouldn’t change anything. But there are no such places. And experience shows that the teenage sons of white CPAs, etc., do commit violent crimes at a lower rate than the teenage sons of black dittos. Not to mention the significant number of non-dittos who live in each neighborhood,

As someone who has bought and sold in two different states over the previous 40 years, if the things you are looking to know are as important as the Real Estate being purchased, there are any number of ways to get the information you seek. It’s a big investment, so why not do your own homework and make your own inquiries and yes and even walk the neighborhood and meet the people who will be your neighbors and merchants.

    healthguyfsu in reply to Another Voice. | December 18, 2021 at 12:09 am

    yep the neighbor at the house we were looking at (happened to be black) was outside of one place in a wife beater yelling and screaming into his phone.

    The wife took one look at me and we got back in the car…didn’t make it past the driveway.

There are a lot of reports in the major new media concerning increasing crime across the US. In particular, the smash and grab robberies with some concern they are spreading. But it doesn’t have anything to do with race though because there is no mention of race at all. One must be careful not jump to conclusions so with no other information to go on, I would have to guess it is due to white gangs.

Subotai Bahadur | December 16, 2021 at 4:43 pm

Two obvious responses.

1) Never, ever buy real estate if Redfin or Realtor.com are involved. They are there to see that you get ripped off by buying homes in dangerous areas that they are selling.
2) Assume, until and unless you can confirm otherwise, that any property in a major urban area is subject to high crime rates either from locals or from gangs doing out of area sweeps of neighborhoods.

Subotai Bahadur

https://www.city-data.com/ works just fine. Gives you all kinds of information about any particular city, village, or county.

“Caveat emptor” applies not only to the structure itself, but to the neighborhood as well. Real estate agents are known for writing sappy stuff to make a bungalow sound like a mansion – you learn to filter that kind of nonsense out when looking for a house, so why would you accept uncritically anything a real estate agent would say regarding how the neighborhood or schools are, anyhow?

Do your own research and look it up for yourself if it’s a concern, rather than rely on an agent to be upfront about it (or dance around the issue as the case may be). You’d hire a home inspector to give you an honest assessment of the soundness of the dwelling, wouldn’t you? Why wouldn’t you be any less diligent when it comes to the neighborhood or the schools? As mentioned above, there are so many ways to discern the true situation, as well as asking the locals for the skinny on the neighborhood/schools in question.

The smart home buyer always looks into these stats before even looking in an area.

Further evidence we no longer have free markets in America.

In free markets businesses and corporations do all they can to serve the best interests of their customers. The customer comes first. Not the interests of the fascist ruling elites.

My wife and I like to browse online for nice looking homes in places far south of us – where there’s less snow. I ALWAYS click the crime map. I consider it one of the most important things to consider.

Taking it away because of fear that there might maybe be potential for racism is idiotic. It is exactly this kind of mindless gesture that gave rise to the term “virtue signaling.”

It requires no virtue. Just a pose, with nose appropriately elevated.

I am looking for a new place to live, the first thing I do is look a demographics, if those look good, I then look for specifics in property.

ThePrimordialOrderedPair | December 17, 2021 at 3:02 am

Most people looking for homes understand that a bad neighborhood and/or a high-crime area can include either a mixture of races or predominantly one race over the other but that in the latter instance it could just as easily be a predominantly white community rather than a black or Hispanic one.

Not “just as easily”. Sure, there are many crime-ridden white areas, but in terms of percentage of areas, the percentage of black areas that are high crime is much, much, much higher than any other group. Period.

But none of that matters in this case. Crime stats don’t have any color to them, in the raw. A rape is a rape is a rape and a murder is a murder. But people are certainly entitled to know the demographic makeup of the neighborhood they are thinking of living their lives in. Of course, they can go get this information elsewhere if the real estate web site refuses to provide it.

ThePrimordialOrderedPair | December 17, 2021 at 3:30 am

The last retarded leftist attack on redlining (i.e. sane lending requirements) perverted our debt markets (by force of some of the dumbest, most ridiculous government regulation ever in the CRA and political weaponization of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac) and brought on the 2008 credit crisis, which represented an existential threat to our entire monetary system (which is still at high risk of implosion because of the retarded way they un-Constitutionally dealt with the credit crisis).

Just considering the removal of crime stats because of fear of creating racial animus is in of itself creating racial animus.

In most states failure to disclose known defects in a home leaves the seller and their agents liable for civil actions. Not disclosing that the home is located in a high crime area seems to me to be a defect

    healthguyfsu in reply to Nuestro. | December 18, 2021 at 12:11 am

    First off, it’s not the seller or their agents doing the disclosing so it does not apply.

    Further, you’d lose that claim of “undisclosed defect” because the law is specific about physical defects, not societal ones.