Realtors - Historic people photos?

hadleyOctober 10, 2009

Do any of you pros know if it is permissible to post historic photos (over 100 years) of the prop for sale that happen to also have pix of people in them? Would it violate fair housing rules?

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I don't see how it would violate any kind of rules.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2009 at 11:24AM
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In some places, the race of the people in the photos can be construed to be a solitication to sell to ONLY people of that same race. Most of those places are terribly backwards...

    Bookmark   October 11, 2009 at 10:37AM
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This is what the fair housing law says:
"It is illegal for anyone to:
Advertise or make any statement that indicates a limitation or preference based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, or handicap. This prohibition against discriminatory advertising applies to single-family and owner-occupied housing that is otherwise exempt from the Fair Housing Act."

If the old photo implies anything to anyone against the fair housing laws, I certainly would not use it for advertising.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2009 at 12:18PM
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If the old photo implies anything to anyone . . .

Taking this cautionary approach, you would need to eliminate photos of the house decorated for Christmas.

I'm not a Realtor, but if I thought my chances of selling my house would improve with historic photos, I would use them. It is easier to ask forgiveness than it is to ask permission.

In fact, if someone complained or even commented, I would remove the offending pictures, find a way to apologize publicly, and then get the local newspaper to run a story about it. Great advertising, if handled appropriately. This assumes the photos are not inappropriate.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2009 at 9:43AM
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The only pictures that I can think of that might pose a problem would be pictures that included Klan members in full dress.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2009 at 11:45AM
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"Taking this cautionary approach, you would need to eliminate photos of the house decorated for Christmas."

Especially when it's listed for sale in July!

    Bookmark   October 12, 2009 at 2:19PM
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" It is easier to ask forgiveness than it is to ask permission. "

As general rule, I think that is true, but not when dealing with the Federal Government.

hadley - are you the homeowner or a pro? Homeowners are given much more latitude under the law. However, if you are professionally involved in selling or renting property, then it pays to be more careful. It is wise to avoid even the impression that you might be discriminating against anyone. This is especially true if the area you are selling in has a history of discriminatory practices.

eg if the house in a section of a city that was historically segregated and you are considering marketing the house using 100 year old pictures showing an all white neighborhood, then you might want to reconsider. While that probably doesn't rise to the level of something that could get you convicted, it could get you into a situation that could do harm to your reputation. Like it or not, even an allegation of racism could dramatically undermine your business.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2009 at 3:21PM
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Oh, my, I am the homeowner, not a pro, that is why I am asking. We are going through a flat-rate broker this time (we've had two pros, please let's not go into that debate:) and their rules warn against using photos that have people. So they may take them out, anyway, if they are that vigilant but they may not.

Both pictures show the house, they are about 20 years apart, one circa 1896, the other 1876. I dated the later one by the number of stars on the American flag seen hanging from the house and a tree. That picture shows an older man and woman and a younger generation sitting on the front lawn. The earlier photo shows the same couple, 20 years younger as well as another man holding the lead to a pair of yoked horses. I doubt he is their servant as the other man is barefoot and wearing raggedy or rolled up pants. Everyone is white as far as I can tell. Both photos are very old and the sepia is overexposed in some areas to the extent that making out features and details is a little difficult. The main things are that they would appeal (I think) to those interested in historic homes, show the house as it changed, and date the house to before its tax date, which will, of course, appear in the listing.

The vagaries of how such things can be interpreted are, I admit, a bit beyond me. Of course, the subtext of a Klan photo would be pretty clear, but I know other cautions (don't show kids because elderly might feel discriminated against) elude me. I don't mean to argue with them or say they aren't valid, I'm sure they are, but even though most people consider me a raging liberal, I don't recognize the offense in some things that, apparently, the courts do. So I just wanted to know from professionals who make this stuff their business if including these would be acceptable or not.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2009 at 8:11PM
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I think that the main reason that you generally don't show people in RE pics is because you are selling a house, and generally your want to showcase the house without people in it.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2009 at 9:31PM
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hadley - if you are a homeowner trying to sell your home on your own, most of the FHA doesn't apply to you.

"(b)Nothing in section 804 of this title (other than subsection (c)) shall apply to--

(1) any single-family house sold or rented by an owner: Provided, That such private individual owner does not own more than three such single-family houses at any one time:"

Anyway, it sounds like you have a couple pictures that an old home buff would love. I'm not sure if they are going to have mass marketing appeal though. I assume you are limited in the number of photos you can post, so I would concentrate on the features of the house that the most buyers will be interested in.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2009 at 8:53AM
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I disagree with billl. By posting at least one of these old photos, you are marketing to YOUR target market, which is the old house buff.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2009 at 8:52AM
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I'd save the historic pics for open houses. Old house peeps are going to be able to tell from the pics that the exterior of the house has been preserved what they are going to be looking for in your ad is whether or not the interior and things such as the hardwood floors, plaster walls, old fixtures, the original windows have been salvaged by you or replaced. I'd spend more time making those points clear in your ad and with the agents involved than trying to show a pic that really isn't going to do much for you.
Old house buyers are a bred all of their own. They can spot a house that is in nearly original exterior shape a mile away. The harder part when shopping for a new old house is to find out if the inside has been ripped to shreds or maintained and pics don't tell the whole story.
This is one of those cases where just posting a pic of a well cleaned and decluttered home isn't going to provide enough info if you are trying to target the old house market specifically.
Your going to have to focus on things in your ad that are atypical, like walls are original plaster and lath. Original fixtures remain with house, bathrooms have original fixtures or have been carefully replaced with modern replicas.Windows are original and were reglazed in '05.
These are the things that a pic can't tell and a old house buyer is going to want to know and will draw them in.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2009 at 2:01PM
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Why don't you just "photoshop" the people right out of the photo? Just use which ever photo makes the removal easiest.


Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   October 15, 2009 at 12:58PM
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Do a search on Fair Housing Act and you will see the exact wording of the rules. It is fairly straightforward.

The photos are perfectly fine.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2009 at 1:51PM
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I found this thread after seeing your listing link on another thread, and I thought it was very cool to have the 1896 photo (both links seemed to direct to the same photo, BTW) in your listing. The pic was so small that you couldn't see the race of anyone, anyway. And I did get a clue as to your political leanings with the wallhanging in your green bedroom!

    Bookmark   October 19, 2009 at 11:51PM
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I'm an old house owner and I've bought 3, sold 2. During the house hunting process, I think carol described the process very accurately - old house lovers are going to know where the additions/changes are.

What I did during our selling process was to make up a binder with all historical and current yet pertinent info about the homes. I'd done research on previous owners - that was in the binder. We had some custom items made to match old items - info about the item's maker was in the binder. Etc etc.

I gave the binders to the buyers at closing and they were really appreciative of them. I don't know what is legal or not legal, but I think you'd be better off by holding your pictures back until you are further in the process.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2009 at 7:49AM
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