FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 29, 2022
William R. Tisdale, President and CEO,
Metropolitan Milwaukee Fair Housing Council
Metropolitan Milwaukee Fair Housing Council and Redfin Agree to Settlement
Which Expands Access to Real Estate Services for Sellers and Buyers in Communities of Color, Redfin Agrees to Modify its Minimum Home Price Policy
Milwaukee, Wisconsin — Today, the Metropolitan Milwaukee Fair Housing Council (MMFHC) joined the National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA) and eight other fair housing organizations from throughout the country in announcing a settlement with Redfin, one of the nation’s largest real estate services companies, that will expand opportunities for consumers in communities of color in metropolitan Milwaukee and across the nation.
“Real estate companies like Redfin can make a big impact on housing access in our communities, and their business policies can either perpetuate racial segregation or help create more inclusive, fair housing opportunities,” said William R. Tisdale, President and CEO of MMFHC. “We are glad that Redfin has agreed to change its policies in ways that will enable people of color to have equitable housing choices, as fair housing laws require. Hopefully, more real estate companies will look critically at their own practices and ask themselves how they can be part of a solution, instead of using policies that reinforce the harm that illegal housing discrimination has created in our region.”
Redfin’s elimination of its national minimum home price policy, expansion of real estate services for lower-priced homes in ten metropolitan areas, and payment of $4 million will settle a discrimination lawsuit brought against Redfin by MMFHC, NFHA, and eight other fair housing organizations.
The lawsuit was brought after MMFHC, NFHA, and eight other fair housing organizations conducted a lengthy investigation. The organizations alleged that Redfin’s minimum home price policy violated the federal Fair Housing Act by discriminating against sellers and buyers of homes in communities of color. MMFHC and the other plaintiffs alleged that policies that limit or deny services for homes priced under certain values perpetuate racial segregation and contribute to the racial wealth gap.
The settlement is expected to serve as a caution to others in the real estate industry that they must exercise care to ensure that their policies and practices, including how they use technology, do not cause discriminatory outcomes.
Redfin has agreed to make changes that will stand for at least three years after an initial implementation period. The company also will implement an outreach and recruiting plan to increase racial diversity in its workforce, advertise its services to reach non-White consumers, and require its agents and local partner realty firms to attend fair housing training.
The legal complaint filed by MMFHC, NFHA, and the other fair housing organizations alleged that Redfin’s minimum home price policy has a substantial adverse impact on buyers and sellers of homes in predominantly non-White communities based on race and national origin. The complaint alleged that Redfin offered no service in non-White zip codes at a disproportionately higher rate than in White zip codes in metropolitan Milwaukee and other cities covered by the lawsuit, such as Baltimore, MD; Chicago, IL; Detroit, MI; Kansas City, MO/KS; Long Island, NY; Louisville KY; Memphis, TN; Newark, NJ; and Philadelphia, PA.
The lawsuit was filed by the New York City-based law firm Emery Celli Brinckerhoff Abady Ward & Maazel, LLP, and Seattle-based firm MacDonald Hoague & Bayless in the federal district court in Seattle, WA.
Other plaintiffs include the National Fair Housing Alliance, South Suburban Housing Center; HOPE Fair Housing Center; Fair Housing Center of Metropolitan Detroit; Fair Housing Justice Center, Inc.; Long Island Housing Services, Inc.; Lexington Fair Housing Council; the Fair Housing Rights Center in Southeastern Pennsylvania; and Open Communities.
Settlement proceeds of $4 million will be used to monitor Redfin’s compliance with the agreement, invest in programs that expand homeownership opportunities in metropolitan Milwaukee and other cities covered by the lawsuit, and pay for litigation and investigation expenses.
Redfin, based in Seattle, is a large real estate broker. It operates in 95 markets in the United States and Canada and has generated $195 billion in home sales. Redfin averaged nearly 47 million monthly users on its mobile apps and website in 2021.
The investigation, in this case, was supported, in part, with funding from a Private Enforcement Initiative grant received from the Fair Housing Initiatives Program administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
About the Metropolitan Milwaukee Fair Housing Council (MMFHC)
MMFHC is a private, non-profit organization whose purpose is to promote fair housing throughout the State of Wisconsin by combating illegal housing discrimination and by creating and maintaining racially and economically integrated housing patterns. It operates satellite offices in Dane County (the Fair Housing Center of Greater Madison) and in Northeast Wisconsin (the Fair Housing Center of Northeast Wisconsin).
Persons who feel they may have experienced illegal housing discrimination should call 1-877-647-3247, a statewide toll-free number. Callers within the 414 area code may call 414-278-1240. All services to victims of illegal housing discrimination are free of charge.