Online real estate brokerage Redfin Corp. agreed to stop refusing to provide services to low-cost homes and will pay $4 million to settle a lawsuit brought by fair housing groups who claimed the company’s ‘minimum price policy’ disadvantages buyers and non-white sellers. .
The Seattle-based company also agreed to be monitored by the groups, led by the National Fair Housing Alliance in Washington, and to make other changes to ensure fair access to real estate services, according to the settlement agreement filed. friday. Redfin has not admitted liability or wrongdoing.
“This settlement sends a strong message to everyone in the real estate industry,” NFHA general counsel Morgan Williams said in an interview. Minimum pricing policies “create an unwarranted discriminatory impact and are a violation of federal civil rights law.”
Fair housing groups filed a lawsuit in federal court in Seattle in October 2020, alleging that Redfin was more likely to provide its best services and discounts to customers in predominantly white neighborhoods. The groups described the practice as a “red line in the digital age”, reminiscent of the days when lenders and brokers set limits that restricted service to non-white areas.
A Bloomberg Businessweek investigation published in January found that some of Redfin’s own employees shared the groups’ concerns and pushed the company to provide more services in minority neighborhoods.
In a statement Friday, Redfin said it would still be able to use home prices to determine whether to serve a client with its own agents or refer the person to “partner agents” from other homes. brokerage.
“Redfin has not broken the law and we continue to support our business practices,” the company said. “We recognize that there is a lot to be done to make housing fair and reverse decades of inequality and we will continue to do our part.”
Redfin is best known for its home shopping website and app, which are visited by over 40 million people per month. The company also employs agents in dozens of markets across the United States who use technology to streamline the process of buying and selling homes. This allows them to charge lower fees than the industry average.