Long Island Divided
November 18, 2019 9:10 AM Subscribe
Long Island Divided — In one of the most concentrated investigations of discrimination by real estate agents in the half century since enactment of America’s landmark fair housing law, Newsday found evidence of widespread separate and unequal treatment of minority potential homebuyers and minority communities on Long Island.
In fully 40 percent of the tests, evidence suggested that brokers subjected minority testers to disparate treatment when compared with white testers with inequalities rising to almost half the time for black potential buyers.
Black testers experienced disparate treatment 49 percent of the time – compared with 39 percent for Hispanic and 19 percent for Asian testers.
In seven of Newsday’s tests – 8 percent of the total – agents accommodated white testers while imposing more stringent conditions on minorities that amounted to the denial of equal service between testers.
“This is something that didn’t happen in the deep South,” said Greg Squires, professor of public policy at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., who offered advice about structuring the testing program.
“It happened in one of the most educated, most liberal regions of the country. These are significant numbers.”
Most commonly in the seven cases, agents refused to provide house listings or home tours to minority testers unless they met financial qualifications that weren’t imposed on white counterparts.
“I won’t do it,” Signature Premier Properties agent Anne Marie Queally Bechand said in refusing to take a black customer to tour houses unless the customer produced evidence that a lender had preapproved a mortgage loan.
One month earlier, Queally Bechand had asked a white customer who had yet to secure mortgage preapproval, “When can you start looking at houses?”
In nearly a quarter of the tests – 24 percent – agents directed whites and minorities into differing communities through house listings that had the earmarks of “steering” – the unlawful sorting of home buyers based on race or ethnicity.
One example: Amid MS-13 gang murders in Brentwood, a 79 percent Hispanic and black community, Le-Ann Vicquery, at the time a Keller Williams Realty agent, told a black customer:
“Every time I get a new listing in Brentwood, or a new client, I get so excited because they’re the nicest people.” She emailed the paired white customer: “please kindly do some research on the gang related events in that area for safety.”
Vicquery declined to comment. Queally Bechand did not respond to requests for comment.
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