(Banker & Tradesman) A senior executive at low-cost brokerage Redfin called on the real estate industry to remove crime statistics from home listings the same day major listings portal site Realtor.com removed the data from its site. Both companies said they were concerned the statistics promoted racial bias and may not be reliable.
“We know that one of these questions [buyers have] is whether they’ll feel safe in a given home or neighborhood,” Chief Growth Officer Christian Taubman wrote in a blog post on the company’s site Monday.
“But the data available don’t allow us to speak accurately to that question, and given the long history of redlining and racist housing covenants in the United States there’s too great a risk of this inaccuracy reinforcing racial bias.”
Taubman also raised concerns that the other major source of local crime data, the National Crime Victimization Survey from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, reflected racial bias because it has no mechanism to filter out any racial bias in respondents’ answers.
The same day Taubman published his post, Realtor.com CEO David Doctorow announced the company had finished removing crime maps from listing pages on its sites as part of a new fair housing push.
“In the weeks and months ahead, we plan to examine closely what neighborhood safety means for buyers and renters who use our site so we can reimagine how we integrate safety data on Realtor.com,” Doctorow wrote.
“Our goal is to ensure we are providing consumers with the most valuable, fair and accurate neighborhood data so they can make informed decisions about where they want to rent or purchase their next home.”
A survey published by Redfin in late October found that half of all homeowners who moved since the pandemic started picked their new home, at least in part, due to crime and safety concerns.