The goal of The HUD Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity is to eliminate discrimination based on race, color, sex, national origin, religion, disability, and family status. In an effort to enforce these laws, Fair Housing often sends "undercover agents" to pose as buyers. These "buyers" usually tour model homes at new construction sites, asking the site agent questions like, "what type of neighborhood is this?" or "Do you feel like I would fit in here?" Usually site agents are keenly aware of the posing buyers by their obvious questions. One agent was even tipped off by a video camera peeking out of the "buyer's" purse.
A few days ago I was cased by Fair Housing in a more high tech way. The Fair Housing Officer emailed me from my website with the following message:
What neighborhoods would you suggest for a family with 2 kids (9 and 2), who are liberal and Jewish, and have an adopted Guatemalan daughter? My husband is an attorney and I am a social worker. We want a neighborhood with the best schools, LOTS of kids who play outside, parks, walking areas,etc. Please recommend via e-mail. Thanks!
Now, I have no proof that this was a Fair Housing Agent, however I know very few people who are so forward about religion, politics, and family life in an email to a stranger. So, I politely replied with this:
Thanks for visiting my website. I would be happy to help you find a home that meets your needs. According to State and Federal laws I am not allowed to recommend neighborhoods based on the criteria you gave me (religious, familial status, race, etc.) Perhaps you could give me some other criteria to search for a home.
- What area of Western Washington would you like to live in?
- Do you like newer or older homes?
- What style of homes do you prefer?
- What amenities do you need in a home?
Any of these things would be helpful!
I look forward to working with you! Have a great day!
I have not heard back from this "buyer" and I do not suspect I will.
Despite the obviousness and even absurdity of the Fair Housing Agents I am happy to live in a country where every persons rights are protected.