In recognition of Fair Housing Month, SkySlope is honoring the work that has been done to raise awareness around equal housing and spotlighting technology that has the potential to be a powerful ally in the fight for fair housing.
Every April, the real estate industry commemorates the passage of the Fair Housing Act, a national law which prohibits discrimination in the sale, rental and financing of housing based on race, color, national origin, religion, and gender. Signed into law by President Johnson seven days after the death of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in April 1968, the law turns 55 this year.
Since its passage, the Fair Housing Act has worked to advance equitable opportunities and expand homeownership to populations that have been systematically challenged in the process of becoming homeowners.
While much progress has been made, in 2022, The National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA)’s Fair Housing Trends Report revealed the highest number of housing discrimination complaints on record since data has been collected. It’s a sobering statistic that underscores the reality that fair housing is still far from a perfect art.
As a leader in the Proptech space, SkySlope has long been committed to creating technology solutions that improve the housing industry. When the team announced its plans in November 2022 to collaborate with Florida’s Stellar MLS to launch SkySlope Offers, a first-of-its-kind offer management system that makes it easy to compare and action offers, the team was motivated to build anti-discriminatory features into the platform to further aid in the fight for equitable housing.
In a multiple offers scenario — a phenomenon that has become less common as the housing market has cooled, but still prevails among modestly-priced homes — sellers are required to review each offer individually and select the most attractive offer. As one might expect, this process is subjective and vulnerable to implicit bias — or the brain’s automatic, instant association of negative stereotypes with particular groups of people, often without our conscious awareness.
Implicit bias can cause sellers to reject a buyer’s offer based on details that have nothing to do with the actual monetary offer. These details can include a buyer’s first or last name or loan type, such as FHA or VA loans.
When an offer is made on a home in SkySlope Offers, only the data that matters is displayed. The buyer name is concealed to ensure anonymity and abate any potential for implicit bias.
The interface is also interwoven with pop-ups, reminding agents of the Real Estate Code of Ethics. One pop-up, for instance, discourages agents from uploading buyer “love letters,” or the increasingly-popular practice in which potential home buyers include a personally-penned letter explaining why their family is the best fit for a home. While seemingly harmless, the practice tends to bode well for those buyers who have a family that most resembles the seller’s.
“When you think about what a monumental challenge it is to buy a house, it becomes apparent how important it is that anyone’s offer be submitted without potential for bias,” says SkySlope CEO, Tyler Smith. “SkySlope Offers ensures that by providing anonymity and making it easy for sellers to identify the most competitive, desirable offer based on data and data alone.”
In January 2023, SkySlope Offers was rolled out to Florida’s Stellar MLS’s 75,000 members. Within three days of its launch, the Offers solution had over 15,000 active listings. Soon thereafter, the world’s fastest growing association, the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB), signed on as a member.
As the Offers platform continues to gain momentum, SkySlope is eager to see it join the fair housing fight in more communities around the country and aid in The Fair Housing Act’s long-held goal to provide equitable housing for all.
Interested in exploring more about how SkySlope Offers could empower your organization and help your members assist in the fight for fair housing? Learn more here.