Like many other organizations in recent years, MAR has been reckoning with our history on race. These policy recommendations and accompanying apology are the cumulative result of months of ongoing work by a member task force representing MAR’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion and Government Affairs committees. Informed by extensive research and stakeholder input, these documents establish the record of discrimination by MAR and the real estate industry which has prevented equal access to homeownership. Most importantly, it’s a call to action for ourselves and others to do the work that’s needed to achieve an equitable housing market for all people. We’re grateful to our partners at AREAA, NAHREP, and NAREB for signing on to a letter of support of this work.
December 2023 update: When we released our apology in October 2022, we committed to immediate action through an initial wave of policy proposals. All four initial proposals are either completed or in action (see below under Policy Proposals & Updates), and we have now launched a second wave of recommendations and changes as part of our ongoing commitment to Close the Gap. Stay tuned for progress updates on these recommendations in the coming months:
- Remove personal buyer information from the housing transaction process: A person’s name has the potential to communicate characteristics about them, and in a real estate transaction, this creates the possibility of bias. While unlawful to knowingly discriminate or allow a seller to do so, there is little that can be done to prevent bias (even unrealized or unspoken) in a seller’s decision to select an offer from a pool of applicants. Because of this possibility of bias, we recommend Minnesota Realtors® work with brokerages and lenders to agree upon a system that provides another unique identifier in place of a buyer’s name and implement these changes on forms and transaction paperwork until after an agreement is made between buyer and seller .
- Update residential zoning regulations to reduce the cost of housing development: Residential inventory is at a historic low throughout the Twin Cities metro. In such a competitive housing market, affordable housing options are increasingly rare, particularly in new construction projects. We recommend city governments update residential zoning regulations to reduce the cost of housing development through broader inclusion of duplex and triplex homes in neighborhoods and update their more technical zoning specifications to allow developers to build homes at lower price points, providing more home buying options for buyers with lower incomes.
- Require MAR Board leadership to complete diversity and anti-bias training: We understand that our association leaders set many of the values and practices we expect of our members, and that fair housing opportunities will be realized when the real estate industry adopts a professional culture rooted in understanding our biases and how to respond to them. As such, MAR will require all members of our Board of Directors to complete At Home with Diversity, Bias Override: Overcoming Barriers to Fair Housing class, and Fairhaven as a performance expectation prior to May 1, 2025. Beginning in 2026, these classes will be a qualification requirement for all Directors of the Board.
Click below to read through each of these three new policy recommendations in more detail.
Letter of Apology & Position Statement
As one of the longest-standing Realtor® associations, we continue to reckon with our role in building injustice into history. To be specific, we must acknowledge and apologize for the hand the Minneapolis Area REALTORS® Association had in creating one of the most significant racial disparities in housing gaps in the nation—particularly for Black Minnesotans. We know we’ve benefited from a system that was set up to effectively lock folks out of opportunity based on race, for generations. Decades later, that system works largely as intended, and we are ashamed of our part in it. We were on the wrong side of history.
Our goals as an association are based in promoting strong, vibrant, sustainable communities. Our actions and inactions have caused us to fall short of realizing that mission. In fact, since its peak in the 1950s, the homeownership rate for Black Minnesotans has actually declined by a significant stretch (46% to 25%) rather than improved. We also know that real estate is one of the biggest wealth-building opportunities there is—by building barriers to it, we also built into the broader systemic oppression of people of color.
Though our membership only just recently elected our first Black President in the 135th year of our association, we are now beginning to reflect the diversity of our membership (and of our city) at the leadership level. And today, we’re making significant shifts in our own association that prioritize education around institutionalized racism in real estate, and support for opportunities for people of color. But it’s not enough. We’re also challenging ourselves to take action beyond our Association—we commit to championing policy proposals that will help remove barriers to homeownership for Black buyers and other people of color. Shame and sincerity alone don’t create meaningful change—we’re committed to making strides at the local, state, and national level around policies and practices.
And we are ready to listen. In creating these policy proposals, we are engaging communities who have been impacted by our discriminatory history and collaborating with experts in related industries and our own. We are committed to dismantling the harmful systems we helped build, and to working toward a day where fair housing is truly guaranteed for all. We hope you’ll join us.
- Please see our accompanying position statement on the issue:
MAR Position on Racial Disparities in Homeownership
Minneapolis Area REALTORS® Taskforce on Racial Disparities in Homeownership
Jackie Berry – 2022 Board Director and Chair, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee
Pat Paulson – 2022 Board Director and 2021 Government Affairs Committee
Jen Piller Quade – 2022 Board Director and 2021 Chair, Government Affairs Committee
Doneva Rawls – 2021 Board Director and 2021 Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee
Henry Rucker – 2021 Chair, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee
Sheree Steele – 2021-2022 Government Affairs Committee
Denise Mazone, 2022 President
Carrie Chang, Chief Executive Officer
Policy Proposals & Updates
June 2023 update: When we released our apology in October 2022, we committed to immediate action through an initial wave of policy proposals. We’re happy to report that all four of these proposals are either completed or in action, as committed:
- MAR Members Advocating for Federal Policy Change — MAR members recommended to the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) to adopt a standing public policy supporting the development of a federal down payment assistance program focusing on first-time and first-generation homebuyers. We’re encouraged that NAR did release a recommendation supporting federal down payment assistance, and this now stands as official NAR Policy Position. This support will ultimately benefit all individuals who have struggled to achieve homeownership.
- Purchase Agreements Forms Change — MAR has incorporated the August 1, 2022, change to Purchase Agreements into our communications and education to inform members (1) disclosure of any down payment assistance is no longer required on the forms, and (2) how the previous practice of requiring disclosure of assistance presented the potential for discriminatory decisions in real estate transactions, disproportionately impacting buyers of color. This education will help ensure Realtors® understand both the nature of their current tools, as well as how discriminatory practices have been institutionalized in the industry, inadvertently or not.
- New Member Orientation Updated — MAR has added significant content around educating Realtors® about the racial housing gap into our required New Member Orientation. The approach to adding this content has been holistic, meaning that it is not only a standalone segment, but rather embedded throughout the orientation providing a racial justice lens to help new Realtors® understand the disparities in homeownership. Every new member who joins MAR going forward will learn about the historical context, association accountability, and current status of the racial homeownership gaps in Minnesota.
- MAR Commitment to Pathways to Achievement Program — Minnesota Realtors® Pathway to Achievement program is designed to promote diversity within the profession by engaging more people of color and in a manner designed to enhance the long-term success in the real estate profession. MAR was a founding partner of this program, and we committed to increasing our support of the Pathway program. This year, we had five qualified applicants enter the program—an improvement from previous years, though there is still much work to be done here to foster a diverse real estate industry. Pathway to Achievement covers association dues for the first year of membership, up to six months of MLS and lockbox fees, and educational and networking opportunities. MAR will continue to strive to grow our applicant pool in the future, proactively.
View our initial policy proposals in detail here:
MAR Policy Proposals
Real Estate Community Partners
Thank you to these partners in the Realtor® association community for their review and support of this apology. We look forward to continued collaboration as we work to create an equitable real estate industry for all people.
Sign On Your Support
Are you interested in supporting this work?
We invite MAR broker offices and partner organizations to click below and indicate your support for this apology, and our ongoing work to close the homeownership gap in Minnesota. We will highlight your support on this page.
Broker and Partner Supporters
MSP Business Journal
Finance & Commerce
Twin Cities Business
Minnesota Spokesman Recorder