Realtors: is this true?

mary_md7August 3, 2010

Can realtors be fined for saying "walking distance"? An acquaintance is being told that her agent is "not allowed" to put this on a flyer because it discriminates against those who cannot walk. Another realtor chimed in that they can be fined for using that phrase. I find that unbelievable.

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terriks

True. You cannot say "walking distance" in RE advertising, as it could be construed as discriminating against people who cannot walk. In our office we use the words "minutes to" or "close to", or you can simply state the distance. People will know if they can walk that far or not. Some states may have stricter standards.

Here is a link that might be useful: Fair Housing word and phrase list

    Bookmark   August 3, 2010 at 12:09PM
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dave_donhoff

OH . MY . GOD ......

I reach further & further, deeper & deeper into depths of professional self-loathing, disgust, embarrassment & anguish at the INANITY of our so-called profession's "political correctness."

IN THIS CASE... How can a description of "bright and sunny with gorgeous panoramic views" NOT ALSO be discriminative against the blind? (And as ludicrous as this is... isn't it MORE applicable than "walking distance" being discriminative against those with no feet????)

What about "that warm, homey feel" being discriminative against those (like my sister inlaw, from Norway,) who LOVE to keep all the windows open & have the place as frigid as a reefer truck?

.. OR being discriminative against our young street slang speakers who use the term "homey" as an endearment???

SERIOUSLY!?!?!

I can imagine some people saying "oh, come on Dave... aren't you being a little overly dramatic?"

WELL... AM I???????

"Walking distance"??????? REALLY?????

Sheesh....
Dave Donhoff
Leverage Planner

    Bookmark   August 3, 2010 at 12:42PM
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creek_side

Political correctness run profoundly amok.

I notice that synagogue, temple, and church are only prohibited if the near keyword is included. Mosque, however, is banned outright, but sweat lodge and shrine aren't even mentioned.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2010 at 12:59PM
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gwbr54

That does seem ridiculous. Altho' I have to admit that if I read 'walking distance to bus stop', I'd google-map to confirm the distance in case it was farther than I wanted to walk. So advertising distance probably makes more sense.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2010 at 1:02PM
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terriks

Actually, I looked more closely at the list, and walking distance is cautioned against, but not absolutley prohibited. In my local MLS system they will call us to change it to "close to", "near", etc.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2010 at 1:27PM
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Billl

That list isn't law or anything close to law. That site is not a government site and is in no way associated with a government site. It is an advocacy group website - nothing more.

Of course, lots and lots of companies bend over backward to keep from getting sued. They institute all sorts of policies that go beyond the legal requirements just to make extra, extra sure they won't get sued. Realtors are a private company and are free to make whatever policies they want in terms of what is allowed in their database - ie the MLS. If they want to restrict certain words or phrases, that is purely an internal decision.

The actual fair housing act has no list of prohibited words or phrases. The acts wording is that it is illegal :

(c) To make, print, or publish, or cause to be made, printed, or published any notice, statement, or advertisement, with respect to the sale or rental of a dwelling that indicates any preference, limitation, or discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin, or an intention to make any such preference, limitation, or discrimination.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2010 at 2:12PM
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berniek

With MapQuest, it is so easy to actually get the distance to anywhere (bus stop, train station etc.), which would be a lot more meaningful than anything else that is said.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2010 at 2:23PM
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larke

Beyond ridiculous, out of control and no common sense at all! What is wrong with people?

    Bookmark   August 3, 2010 at 5:38PM
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gwbr54

OTOH, I think I've seen this site linked to MLS or similar listing source. Unfortunately, most landlords and rental agents are gun shy about everything - sometimes for good reason. Still, let's hope most exercise common sense and less political correctness.

Here is a link that might be useful: walk score

    Bookmark   August 3, 2010 at 5:54PM
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ncrealestateguy

Billl,
you beat me to it... The web site is made to look like it is a Governmental site. It is not. Nothing more than a waste of time.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2010 at 8:53PM
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calliope

Well, let's put it this way. It may not be a law, but I haven't seen 'walking distance' in a realty ad in years. But then again, half the residential areas in our community don't even have sidewalks. LOL. So, I'm guessing it's a guideline some companies use to alert them to words some housing authorities might consider discriminatory. Use enough of those iffy words or a few verboten ones and I'm suspecting you'll be contacted if somebody's feather's get ruffled. I think it's a little over the top, myself. If you say a property is near churches, it's a stretch to imagine someone will mean atheists will be denied housing. Or if you say perfect for empty nesters (and I see this one sometimes used locally) that they'll refuse to sell to someone with children. I guarantee you, no matter what you say/or don't say, somebody can find a reason to be offended by it. I can agree with blatant or unmistakably discriminatory advertising being offensive and perhaps illegal. But, the boundaries are getting so restrictive it seems to imply that we are getting 'less' tolerant instead of more and that's achieving the opposite effect of the intention.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2010 at 4:16AM
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lazy_gardens

If you read the instructions for that list:

bold is unacceptable
Italics is used with caution
ordinary text is standard terminology

"walking distance" is italicized ... use with caution.

Also, what is "walking distance" around here in February is going to hospitalize you with heat stroke in August if you try to walk is. I would prefer an actual distance in miles or yards.

Here is a link that might be useful: Fair Housing Word List

    Bookmark   August 4, 2010 at 10:12AM
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bushleague

Living on Cape Cod, I see 'walking distance' as in to the beach often in listings. Saw one on Nantucket today, "would like to rent to vegetarians or vegans"; come on!

    Bookmark   August 4, 2010 at 12:41PM
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mary_md7

I see some ads with "owner's suite" but still also still see some with "master suite" or "first floor master." As a female property owner, should I be offended?

    Bookmark   August 4, 2010 at 4:16PM
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cordovamom

I'm offended by the phrase "mother in law suite"....but that's just because I don't like my MIL......but that's okay on the list and "Nanny's Room" is questionable? I don't understand that one.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2010 at 5:10PM
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Gina_W

When I rented out my condo I put "walking distance to the beach" in the ad. If I ever get sued for something like that, well, bring it on morons! (Oh wait, is "moron" also prohibited? LOL).

    Bookmark   August 4, 2010 at 5:50PM
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ncrealestateguy

I'm with gina w on this one. I have a listing right now that says "within walking distance to downtown". I dare someone who thinks they know Fair Housing Law to bring it to my attention.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2010 at 8:57PM
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sue36

More often than not when I see "walking distance to X" it ends up that their idea of walking distance is quite different than what most people would actually walk. Is 1 mile to shopping walking distance? What if there are no sidewalks and it is a busy road? Is 2 miles to a beach walking distance? Stick to actual distances.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2010 at 9:43AM
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Gina_W

Would "a hop, skip and a jump to the beach" suffice?

    Bookmark   August 5, 2010 at 12:06PM
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cmarlin20

Seems odd, I live on what is called a "walk street", it is for pedestrians only no rooms for cars.
Now I'm wondering what can I call it???

    Bookmark   August 6, 2010 at 4:19PM
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chisue

I like the outright lies. "This property is only 20 minutes from the Loop." (By what, rocket sled?)

    Bookmark   August 7, 2010 at 5:46PM
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albeitwise

Now let us all use some common sense here. If the majority of people do walk, which they do, then why would someone be fined for using a common day term. I as a consumer would benefit from such a description. It is a shame that we have taken all these rules to such extremes. I think being considerate for anyone with a disability is crucial and offering them every opportunity for equality and success is a must but even my mother in her wheelchair uses the term- Let's take a walk.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2010 at 3:57PM
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kimcoco

We live in a "walking neighborhood"...

Sheesh....

    Bookmark   September 3, 2010 at 3:44PM
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