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Real estate still tragically unequal

Posted by Scott Van Voorhis January 20, 2014 11:16 AM

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Greater Boston is already one of the toughest markets in the country for both renters and buyers, with skyrocketing housing costs and scarce listings.

But it's all that much harder if you are black or Hispanic, a pair of new surveys find.

The Boston Housing Fair Housing Commission recently used white and minority testers to check out 20 randomly chosen real estate listings.

There was strong evidence of the minority testers being given a bum steer in eight of the 20 listings, The Bay State Banner reports.

OK, discrimination now is more subtle than the bad old days, when landlords and real estate agents were more likely to be open about their bigotry.

Instead, some landlords and real estate agents are more likely now to quietly give minority renters and buyers a bum steer, showing them fewer listings than they would if they were white, the Banner notes, citing past national surveys by federal housing officials.

Minority home buyers also still face an uphill battle in the mortgage market as well.

Blacks account for just 6 percent of all mortgage applications, even thought they make up more than 12 percent of the country's population, Zillow finds in a new report.

Hispanics make up more than 17 percent of the overall population, but account for just over 9 percent of the mortgage applications.

Banks and other lenders were also more than twice as likely to reject mortgage applications from prospective black and Hispanic buyers compared to whites, Zillow finds.

Sadly, these studies aren't breaking new news but are rather confirming years-long trends.

Housing discrimination is still alive and well. What needs to be done, in your view, to finally put an end to it?

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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Scott Van Voorhis is a freelance writer who specializes in real estate and business issues.

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